Coenzyme Q10 and Autism

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Navigating through the supplements aisle can be a harrowing experience. There are big claims on labels, though some have no proven repeatable results and are sold with interesting fine print. We’ll skip shiny labels and go straight to the science. If a certain supplement can show consistent results when carried out by different clinicians, in different years, in different parts of the world, it’s worth looking at. Today’s focus is on Coenzyme Q10 and Autism.

The ink is barely dry on this study (1): “Coenzyme Q10 supplementation reduces oxidative stress and decreases antioxidant enzyme activity in children with autism spectrum disorders.” Based on their subjects, which included children in various ranges of the spectrum, high doses of CoQ10 improved gastrointestinal problems and sleep disorders. This isn’t news…

In another study (2) using ubiquinol (considered an advanced form of CoQ10): “…after three months of supportive therapy with ubiquinol at a daily dose 2 × 50 mg…improved symptoms in children with autism, as communication with parents (increased 12%), verbal communication (increased 21%), playing games of children (increased 42%), sleeping (increased 34%), and food rejection (increased 17%)”.

TIP WHEN BUYING (true for all supplements)

Examine the ingredients for fillers, sweeteners, allergens, coloring agents, and other items that are disruptors (such as soy). Quality counts and will affect results. Some products are worlds away from their less expensive counterparts and well worth the extra dollars.

THE FOOD FACTOR

There are common denominators in many disorders and if not the direct cause, as we often see with gluten, certain foods can make a bad situation worse. How often do you see celery causing health issues or adding further stress to an ill body? How about gluten and dairy?

Gluten antibodies are found in 87% of autistic children compared to 1% of normal children(3). The key element here is antibodies, not Celiac diagnoses. Celiac has a scientifically measurable spectrum(4). However, unlike Autism, where a child would still be diagnosed at the low end, with Celiac they are not. With Celiac, they have to be at final stage of intestinal devastation before being diagnosed, even though they’re reacting to gluten in earlier stages as well.

In a large study, almost 11,000 Swedish children with Celiac and over 12,000 of their siblings: “Childhood celiac disease was identified as a risk factor for mood disorders, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, behavioral disorders, ADHD, ASD, and intellectual disability.” (5)

Seems like a simple issue of early screening, right? No, not so simple. Some 90% of people who are affected either test false negative based on North American Celiac testing standards or they fly under the radar entirely. Gastroenterology says that for every person diagnosed with Celiac, 8 others are not (6). Europe has started moving towards using antibodies to diagnose instead of biopsy, which leads to earlier diagnoses. This is fantastic and will hopefully be implemented worldwide sooner than later.

Either way, it’s a good idea to remove foods like gluten and dairy that hundreds of millions of people are reacting to. Don’t wait for the system to finally admit how harmful they are, nor for the snail pace of the medical system in improving methods for screening and diagnoses.

Stay hopeful because there are success stories every moment of every day. It’s a question of finding the formula that works in each case.

References

(1)Mousavinejad E, Ghaffari MA, Riahi F, Hajmohammadi M, Tiznobeyk Z, Mousavinejad M. Coenzyme Q(10) supplementation reduces oxidative stress and decreases antioxidant enzyme activity in children with autism spectrum disorders. Psychiatry Res. 2018 Jul;265:62-69. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2018.03.061. Epub 2018 Apr 4. PubMed PMID: 29684771.

(2) Gvozdjáková A, Kucharská J, Ostatníková D, Babinská K, Nakládal D, Crane FL. Ubiquinol improves symptoms in children with autism. Oxid Med Cell Longev.

2014;2014:798957. doi: 10.1155/2014/798957. Epub 2014 Feb 23. PubMed PMID: 24707344; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3953391.

(3) Cade R., Privette M., Fregly M., et al. (2000). Autism and schizophrenia: intestinal disorders. Nutr. Neurosci. 3, 57–72. 10.3109/10284150009163451

(4) Eur J of Endocrinology (2002)146 479–483

(5) Agnieszka Butwicka MD, PhD, Paul Lichtenstein, PhD, Louise Frisén, MD, PhD, Catarina Almqvist, MD, PhD, Henrik Larsson, PhD, Jonas F. Ludvigsson, MD, PhD. Celiac Disease Is Associated with Childhood Psychiatric Disorders: A Population-Based Study. The Journal of Pediatrics. May 2017 Volume 184, Pages 87–93.e1

(6) Gastroenterology 2001;120:636-651

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