Ladd McNamara, M.D discusses the future of medicine both as it relates to health, supplementation, and how health professionals are finding new ways to increase income in an ever evolving world!

Can Nutritional Supplements, Including Lithium Orotate Help Autism?

Supplement Considerations for Autism and More

Unfortunately, more parents than ever know the pain and frustration of trying to help an autistic child. Drugs are not always the best answer. Listed here are some basic natural, non-toxic supplements you can try that may actually make a difference.

I am not going to get into what causes autism, as it may be multi-factorial. I am aware of many theories, and I am not sure which one is correct. However, I do believe our toxic environment … of things we eat, possibly medications or vaccines, and nutrients were NOT getting in our diet, all contribute to a what could be a genetically-susceptible individual developing autism.

This blog post focuses on some things a parent can TRY. Some will see results, others may not. Most parents of an autistic child has tried many or most of the things I will suggest, but they may not have tried these at the level, balance, and/or purity of product brands that I suggest.

I also wish to express that parents should consult with their physician about treatment. All I am offering is ideas. With that understanding and disclaimer out of the way, here is a good list of suggestions (it may not be complete):

1. Multivitamins and Minerals: Every human body needs supplementation; beyond what we can obtain from our food. Certainly, a healthy, low-glycemic, non-trans fat diet is critical for good health; but, supplementation is a must to optimize health. I use and recommend an essential multivitamin, antioxidant, and minerals (chelated form) supplement program. To further personalize this regimen, there are supplements for adults, teenagers, and children. We’re not talking about a routine over-the-counter supplement, but a high-quality, fully balanced, “pharmaceutical-grade” supplement brand.

2. Additional calcium and magnesium tablet, that is balanced with other trace minerals and vitamin D. For children between ages 2 and 5, 1 tablet would be fine. For ages 6 – 10, 2 additional tables of “activated calcium/magesium” would be beneficial. For ages 11 – 15, 3 tablets, and for 16 and older, 4 additional calcium/magnesium tables.

3. Fish Oil (the omega-3 fatty acids) is critical for brain development and function. I would suggest triple or quadruple the normal dose. There is no downside to these higher doses. For ages 0 – 4, 1 – 2 capsules per day (1000 – 2000 mg). For ages 3 – 5, 2 – 3 capsules (2000 – 3000 mg) per day. For ages 6 – 9, 3 – 4 capsules (3000 – 4000 mg) per day. For ages 10 – 13, 4 – 6 capsules (4000 – 6000 mg) per day; and for ages 14 and up, 6 – 10 capsules (6000 – 10,000 mg) per day. IMPORTANT: I recommend a Fish Oil that is cold processes with a double-distillation process making sure the fish oil is free of PCB’s and Organic Residues (like dioxins). You cannot be reassured that most over-the-counter brands are of this high quality.

4. Vitamin D (see my article on Vitamin D on www.laddmcnamara.com). Even if there is 2000 IU of vitamin D3 already in your essential vitamin and mineral regimen, it is beneficial to take additional vitamin D3. Everyone would benefit from taking enough vitamin D to obtain serum blood levels around 75 to 85 ng/ml. Most people do not reach those blood levels of vitamin D. Young children may reach those levels with 2000 IU/day. Older children (6 to 10 years old) may need 4000 IU/day. Adolescents may need 6000 IU/day, and adults may need 8000 to 10,000 IU/day to achieve blood levels in the 75 to 85 ng/ml range. Personally, I take 12,000 IU per day that keeps my vitamin D levels between 85 and 90; but, I am a bigger guy. Most people will be fine with less. The dose that is correct for you can only be determined by a blood test. Again, see my article on www.laddmcnamara.com.

5. Grape Seed Extract crosses the blood-brain barrier, and has shown promise in many neurological issues. I would suggest the following: Ages 1 – 4, 50 mg/day. Ages 5 – 9, 100 – 150 mg/day. Ages 10 – 14, 200 – 300 mg/day; and for 15 and up, consider 300 to 600 mg/day.

6. Co-enzyme Q10 helps with every single organ, tissue, and cell in your body. It crosses the blood-brain barrier and helps the neurons and neurotransmitters function more optimally. Consider: Ages 1 – 4, 30 mg/day. Ages 5 – 8, 60 to 100 mg/day. Ages 9 – 11, 100 – 200 mg/day. Ages 12 – 15, 200 to 300 mg per day. Ages 16 and up, 200 to 400 mg per day. (It is best taken with Alpha Lipoic Acid.)

7. Alpha Lipoic Acid (best taken with Co-Enzyme Q10): Consider: Ages 1 – 4, 25 – 50 mg/day. Ages 5 – 8, 50 to 100 mg/day. Ages 9 – 11, 100 – 200 mg/day. Ages 12 – 15, 200 to 400 mg per day. Ages 16 and up, 200 to 800 mg per day. (It is best taken with Alpha Lipoic Acid.)

8. Lithium Orotate: Lithium Orotate is not the same as Lithium Carbonate, commonly used to treat bipolar disorder; nor does it have its side effects. Lithium is a naturally-occurring trace mineral in which many people are deficient. A small dose of lithium orotate works differently than the prescribed “drug,” lithium carbonate. Lithium Orotate can be be effective in helping with bipolar disorder, but it is generally overlooked. It has shown to be helpful in autism, and many other brain disorders. This effective natural mineral can provide benefits by balancing mood hormones, such as serotonin and dopamine. In addition to autism, lithium orotate has been found to be helpful with mood swings, depression, uncontrolled anger, anxiety, sleep disorders, bipolar depression, schizophrenia, memory disorders, cognitive dysfunction, behavioral issues, language, and drug and alcohol dependency. It appears MANY people can benefit from lithium orotate, in combination with 5-HTP and GABA. Dosing is kept rather low. The following is a very general range and dosing; and one must check with their doctor. For example: A younger child, ages 2 – 5 parents and doctors can consider 20 mg. (Check with your doctor.) Ages 6 – 9, 40 – 60 mg. Ages, 10 – 13, 60 – 135 mg, and age 14 and up, 100 – 300 mg. It is best to split the doses, into twice, or three times per day.

9. Choline: A precursor nutrient to a neurotransmitter, acetylcholine. It is helpful for depression, memory, cognitive abilities, anxiety, behavioral issues, and language. A young child (less than age 5) can take 100 mg or so. A older child (ages 6 – 10) can take 150 – 200 mg. A young adolescent (ages 11 – 15) can take 300 – 400 mg, and anyone 16 and older can take 400 – 800 mg.

10. Phosphatidylserine: an amino acid complex that helps with neurotransmitters; which can help with depression, sleep disorders, bipolar depression, memory, cognitive abilities, anxiety, behavioral issues, language, and autism: A young child (less than age 5) can take approx. 20 mg, give or take. A older child (ages 6 – 10) can take 50 mg/day, give or take. A young adolescent (ages 11 – 15) can take 100 mg/day, give or take, anyone 16 and older can take 100 – 200 mg/day. No one knows the exact dose that is beneficial, but it is not harmful. It is very helpful for nerve functioning.

11. 5-HTP: is 5-HydroxyTryptophan, which is naturally found in milk and turkey. However, you could not drink enough milk or eat enough turkey to obtain the amount required to make a difference. 5-HTP is a precursor to serotonin. As opposed to antidepressant drugs that block the re-uptake of serotonin and have side-effects, 5-HTP (particularly with lithium orotate) helps combat depression, PMS, bipolar disorder, sleep disturbances, and autism. Consider: 5 and under, 50 mg/night. Ages 6 – 10, 50 – 100 mg/night. Ages 11 – 15, 100 – 150 mg/night. Above age 16, 200 – 300 mg/night.

12. GABA: (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) a precursor of dopamine, a very important mood and cognitive brain hormone, helping with depression, memory, anxiety, behavior, language, and autism. Many antidepressants artificially boost dopamine with side effects. GABA helps boost dopamine natrually, and works well with 5-HTP, lithium orotate, and other nutrients suggested here. Consider: 5 and under, 50 mg/night. Ages 6 – 10, 50 – 100 mg/night. Ages 11 – 15, 100 – 250 mg/night. Above age 16, 200 – 400 mg/night.

13. Melatonin: Since most children with autism do not produce enough melatonin, they commonly have sleep disruption. In addition to the lithium orotate and 5-HTP, which should help with sleep disturbances, a pure source of melatonin (for example, from sources in Switzerland) is very helpful. Dosing for ages under 5 would be 0.5 to 1 mg. For ages 6 – 10, 1 – 2 mg/night. For ages, 11 – 15, 2 – 4 mg/night. And, for 16 and older, 2 – 8 mg/night. It is not toxic, and can help the child (as well as adults) get a more restful, restorative night’s sleep.

Again, this list is not “complete,” but they are some basic things a parent can do for their child (and themselves). This should NOT be interpreted as medical advice, but only nutritional supplement considerations to support one’s health.

There are many other nutrients that are important for overall health of children with autism, let alone everyone else: for example: Digestive Enzymes and ProBiotics.

My hope is this gives people some ideas as to what to try. And, remember, most of these work when balanced together, not just trying this or that. It’s the ratios and balances of nutrients that matter.

Comments

Posted On
Mar 21, 2012
Posted By
Edda Dulce Johnston

Thank you Dr. McNamara. I met you in Orlando when lecture here in 2011. I have two autistic boys, ages 10 and 7 1/2 y/o. I have read your suggestions. I have manage to give my boys 2 tablets of Usanimals and Usana vitamin D3. Can the boys take any of the other vitamins and minerals made by Usana or it is dosed for adults? Can I break them in half for a more appropriate dosage for my kids? Please let me know so I can start applying yours suggestions. I will let their pediatrician know.

Posted On
Mar 23, 2012
Posted By
Ladd McNamara, M.D.

Although one must check with their own doctor, if I had children of those ages with autism I would give them the following: The 10 year old would get 1 BodyRox twice daily, 2 BiOmgea capsules twice daily, 1 Active Calcium twice daily, 1 Proflavanol C 100 twice daily, 100 mg of Phosphatidylserine daily, approximately 50mg of lithium orotate twice daily, (as mentioned in the blog post), and 2 mg of Melatonin at night. And, for the 7 to 8 year old, the doses would be about the same, only maybe slightly lower dose of lithium orotate, and 1 mg of Melatonin at night. For both, I would also consider CoQuinone 30 mg twice daily. There is NO evidence of any conerns for co-enzyme Q10 in children, only benefits.

Posted On
Mar 21, 2012
Posted By
Edda Dulce Johnston

Hi again Dr. McNamara. The reason I have not really given any of the other Usana supplement because I call the scientist and they said that the other supplements are for adults. Can you tell if the other supplements will be okay for my autistic kids. I am exclusively using Usana products only.
Thank you so very much.
Edda

Posted On
Mar 23, 2012
Posted By
Ladd McNamara, M.D.

Edda, legally the scientists at USANA can only recommend what they do, because they are not giving medical advise. I too, am not trying to give medical advise. You can find a doctor who is well versed in nutritional supplements (there are very few) and present my considerations. I have not found ANY information anywhere that shows that these supplements are of any concern in children. You will have to take my suggestions, and make the decision with the assistance of your doctor. There are many parents of autistic children who have reported positive results. That’s the best that anyone can tell you. My best!

Posted On
Apr 13, 2012
Posted By
Dorothea Creaven

Hi,
We have tried the Omega 3 Fish Oil for our son, 3 yrs. old and found he cannot tolerate recommended doses without getting gastro upset and near diarrhea. He is not able to break down the Omega 3 and convert to DHA as needed. We did find he is benefitting from Algal DHA 400mg twice a week with improved attention, staying on task and learning. But on the days I give it to him, he still has very loose stools. Is there anything we can give him in combination with the DHA that will prevent the negative BMs? We normally give it too him mixed with 1/2 tsp. cherry syrup otherwise he spits it out. We give him other supplements in the cherry syrup without the BMs so we know it is the DHA. He has severe food allergies, duodenal ulcers for which he takes prevacid, and is an extremely picky eater so we have to supplement his diet with a lot of nutrients.

Posted On
Jun 11, 2012
Posted By
Sharon Kissner

Dr. McNamara — for the supplements mentioned above which are NOT offered by USANA, can you recommend a reliable resource? Thank you for your generosity in sharing all this excellent info with us!

Posted On
Nov 19, 2012
Posted By
Ladd McNamara, M.D.

Please message me privately for such suggestions.

Posted On
Nov 19, 2012
Posted By
Ladd McNamara, M.D.

I use and recommend the products found at http://www.customer.usana.com

Posted On
May 10, 2014
Posted By
Jason

Hi Sir can i take USANA CHELATED MINERAL TABLET or USANA MEGA ANTIOXIDANT TABLET am still 16 years old boy ?

Posted On
Jul 31, 2012
Posted By
Jasper

I’m 28 years old and diagnosed with HFA. I also have a mild Tic-Disorder/Tourette and mood swings (not clear yet what they are).
For my Tics I take magnesium, but not all the time, just maybe every 3 months for 4 weeks and then they nearly go away again for around 3 more months. But I want to try magnesium orotate in the future.
I’m also taking rhodiola rosea, lithium orotate, cod liver oil and for my sleep melatonin, but just 3 mg at night.
Since I’m taking lithium orotate I could reduce my melatonin from 6 mg to 3 mg and even sleep better than befor. If this continues I hope I can stop with melatonin totally soon. :D

Posted On
Sep 20, 2012
Posted By
Clara Gibson

A very useful article. For nearly 20 years I have worked with families with children with autism and ASD. It is very good to see such balanced, useful, specific information.
Parents will find this very useful I am sure.

Posted On
Nov 15, 2012
Posted By
Sara

Hello Dr. McNamara,

I have read your article several times as I am currently grasping at straws trying to help my 7 year old daughter who is thought (by pediatricians, psychologists, psychiatrists, etc.) to have any number of disorders ranging from PDD NOS, mood disorders, ADHD, anxiety, depression, etc. Even though she without a doubt has a very difficult time with life both socially and academically, these doctors do not feel that they have the ability to come up with an accurate diagnosis for her. She can be very violent. She truly needs a neuropsychological evaluation. We are wait-listed for one and could be waiting for well over a year. The psychiatrist and pediatrician have both been dead-ends…they tell me that I should commit her to a residential treatment facility in order to get her evaluated sooner. Although this may be okay in their minds, it is not okay in mine. I only have one chance to try to help my poor little kid, and if I did that I would throw her trust right out the window.

Given this, I have done a lot of research on anything natural that may help her. She is currently on an all-natural multi-vitamin, Minami MorEPA Teen Formula and 10 mg active Lithium Orotate (one 5 mg pill twice daily). She is 7 years old and weighs 65 pounds. Is it safe to increase the lithium orotate? If so, is 50 mg active lithium orotate your suggestion? Should I have any lab work performed to make sure it isn’t harming her? All of her doctors are not familiar with it and will not suggest it. I feel that if I can get it to work or at least help with her behavioral issues that is beats the alternative of committing her as they would suggest.

Any of your advice is greatly appreciated. I feel like I am fighting for her life alone and the health system has truly failed her. Thank you so much.

Posted On
Dec 05, 2012
Posted By
Ladd McNamara, M.D.

I am sorry to hear of your daughter’s situation. It sounds like she needs further help, and unfortunately, I cannot give you/her medical advice. Any addition, or increase in lithium would have to be discussed with her doctor. I’m sure you know how important a quality fish oil would be to support brain health, and in cases like this it may take 8,000 mg/day of fish oil. That may not be the solution to her situation, but it might be considered. I wish I had more suggestions for you. My best!

Posted On
Mar 16, 2013
Posted By
Dr. Dina Belyayeva

Sara,
I’m sorry to hear about your daughter’s condition. Based on your description she may be suffering from autoimmune response, which may be responsible for a variety of psychiatric symptoms. I strongly suggest t cleaning out her diet. And be her role model in that as well. Take her off sugars, gluten, diary. Start cooking everything from scratch at home using organic fresh ingredients. Too many prepared/processed/packaged foods in the US contain MSGs and GMO. MSGs are powerfull excitotoxins that destroy your brain and they are masked by rather innocuous terms, such as vegetable protein. Supplementation also helps. Fish oil, as suggested by Dr. McNamara is powerful anti infamatory. Vitamin B3 (niacin) and magnesium citrate may also help to quiet down violent episodes. Lack of good intestine bacteria is also linked to neurological disorders, so you may want to consider giving her broad spectrum of probiotics as well. And stay away from any additional vaccinations. Aside form mercury, aluminum and other junks in vaccines, they introduce viruses to the body triggering more autoimmune response.
Best wishes,
Dina

Posted On
Mar 12, 2013
Posted By
Nickola Blunt

Do you have any comments to make about information currently circulating the media about too much calcium the risks of taking calcium supplements and its effect in creating deposits in the arterial lining. I am a Usana associate. Please feel free to email me direct.
Thanks for the incredible education work you do for your generosity and brilliant product trainings that help to keep us at the leading edge of health and wellness.
cheers
Nickola

Posted On
May 04, 2013
Posted By
Jennifer

My son is 4 1/2 and was just diagnosed with moderate Autism. How did he get it, well I gave it to him as I gave him amox like crazy for his ear infections when he was a baby. why why why did I do that, stupid, stupid, stupid. I fell into the Doctor’s trap….I hate myself for it. Guilty Guilty Guilty mom right here. Been crying for 3 days and very down on myself.

Now I need help please!!! He does not do well in a social environment, he becomes overwhelmed and his behavior is aggressive. Delayed in speech, toe walker, en heightened sense of smell and hearing. Hight tolerance to pain. Clumsy. He has been kicked out of 2 day cares due to his behavior, its out of control. He is very busy all over the place. I want to know that I am doing everything for my son to help reverse the damage I have done to his body.

Please any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!!
Thank you so very much
Jennifer

Posted On
May 16, 2014
Posted By
Meldene Dorn

Jennifer, if you want to contact me that would be fine. I am a mother of a 40 year old daughter who is bipolar and autistic. Believe me we know where you are.. we were there. You can email me. Please write Autistic in the Subject line. Take care..there is help out there.
Meldene

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Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only. The information is a result of years of practice experience and study by the author. This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read on this web site. Information provided on this web site and the use of any products or services purchased from this website (or as a result of information provided this website) by you DOES NOT create a doctor-patient relationship between you and any of the physicians or authors affiliated with this website. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.