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Is B6 and Magnesium Therapy Right for Your Autistic Child? | The Essential Guide To Autism

Is B6 and Magnesium Therapy Right for Your Autistic Child?


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Recently, there has been a movement among some parents of autistic children toward a therapy that involves the use of Vitamin B6 and Magnesium.  However, before jumping on the bandwagon, it is a good idea to know what is involved in the treatment and understand the pros and cons of treating a child with substantial doses of vitamins and minerals. 

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) is considered to be an essential vitamin.  The term essential means that it is one required by the human body in order to properly function, but that cannot be produced on its own by the body.  Therefore, Vitamin B6 must be obtained through food, supplements, or other means.  This specific vitamin is required in order for the body to perform over sixty different biological processes.  When the body receives Vitamin B6, it converts it into pyroxidal-5-phosphate (PLP), which is an enzyme that is used in order to obtain the energy from within starches, and to break proteins down into more useable forms.  PLP is also necessary for brain chemical production.

Magnesium (Mg) is an essential mineral.  Again it is vital for the health of the body but is not something the body can produce on its own.  It is crucial for the health of every one of the body’s cells, as well as for brain and muscle cell function.  Though it is rare for a magnesium deficiency to occur, a 2006 study published in the Biol Trace Elem Res Journal, called “Magnesium Profile in Autism”, by M. Strambi (et al.) suggested that children with autism may actually suffer from too little magnesium in their bodies.

Because of the essential element of these two vitamins/minerals, some parents feel that supplementing a child’s magnesium and vitamin B6 intake is a viable alternative autism therapy.  If you are considering choosing a vitamin B6 and magnesium therapy for your own child, please consult your child’s doctor or pediatrician to find out if it is a therapy that may work well with your child’s unique needs, and to find the appropriate dose for your child’s age, weight, and requirements.

It should be noted that this therapy is considered to be somewhat controversial.  There have been two very small yet well controlled studies – one by L. Tolbert (et al.) published in the Journal of Autism Dev. Disorders in 1993, “Brief Report: Lack of response in an autistic population to a low dose clinical trial of pyridoxine plus magnesium”, and the study by R. L. Findling (et al.) from the same journal but in 1997, “High-dose pyridoxine and magnesium administration in children with autistic disorder: an absence of salutary effects in a double blind, placebo-controlled study” – which showed absolutely no impact on autism with low and high doses of vitamin B6 and magnesium.  However, there was one more substantial, yet less effectively controlled study -  J. Martineau (et al.) in 1985’s Biological Psychiatry journal, “Vitamin B6, magnesium, and combined B6-Mg: therapeutic effects in childhood autism” – which showed that when used in combination, vitamin B6 and magnesium have a significant behavioral impact, though neither of those substances alone appears to make a difference.

Before beginning this kind of therapy, you should know that high doses of vitamin B6 pose the risk of nerve problems.  However, there have been no reported significant side effects regarding autistic children taking vitamin B6 and magnesium supplements.  At over 600 mg per day, magnesium can be toxic, but when taken in moderate amounts (200 mg per day) no significant side effects have been reported.

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