The link to low levels of Vitamin D in mothers during pregnancy and AUTISM risk

In a paper just published in 'Nature Journal' (the world's most highly cited interdisciplinary science journal) titled "Gestational vitamin D deficiency and autism-related traits: the Generation R Study", scientists have acknowledged a modifiable risk factor in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In fact, they note "The association between gestational vitamin D deficiency and a continuous measure of autism-related traits at ~6 years was determined in a large population-based cohort of mothers and their children"Just so you know, "~" means "approximately" and a cohort study is research that investigates the causes of disease, and establishes links between risk factors and health outcomes.

This study was conducted over four years and recruited almost 10,000 women in the Netherlands.

So what did this study find specifically? Pregnant women with serum Vit. D levels at <10 ng/mL  (this is very low...recommended levels are 20-50 ng/mL) at five months gestation were 3.8 times more likely to have children with autistic traits than women with levels of 20 ng/mL or more.  What is the link to low levels and Autism? Researchers believe it may have something to do with Vitamin D and it's production of Serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter. 

Quick and dirty facts

What is the RDA for pregnant women? 15 ug/day or 600 IU/day

What is the tolerable upper limit (toxicity)? 100 ug/day or 4000 IU/day

So how do you get enough Vit. D? Sunlight (only 15 min a day without sunscreen, then apply sunscreen), canned salmon and sardines (bones included as this is where a lot of the Vit. D is), and egg yolks. There are also fortified foods (milk and cereal) but I really believe you should get your vitamins and minerals from foods that have it naturally.  You can also supplement but just know that Vit. D is a FAT SOLUBLE vitamin and thus needs a fat source to be assimilated well by the body. 

Risk factors for low Vit. D? Basically lack of sun (Pacific NW), polluted air, covering your skin with clothes and sunscreen to the point where your skin gets zero exposure. Again, 15 min of moderate sun exposure is plenty, then load up the on sunscreen and UVB ray blocking clothes.  Age and skin pigmentation play a part. The darker your skin, the slower your body can synthesize the sun's rays. As you age your ability to synthesize Vit. D from the sun's rays is lowered. Fat malabsorption issues and inflammatory bowel disease may be at risk for deficiency. Magnesium deficiency also can create a Vit. D deficiency since Magnesium regulates enzymes in Vit. D metabolism. Lastly, obesity can place you at risk since Vit. D may get stored in fat cells instead of being used. 

Need a good, economical Vit. D supplement? Try getting one in a lipid/drop formula. Its easy to take (just make sure you monitor the drops and don't just squeeze it in your mouth) and already in lipid form so you can take it at any time.  Source Natural's has one for under $10 and has been already approved on Consumer Lab (an independent lab that tests to make sure there is the stated amount of vitamins, minerals or other ingredients as stated on the label).  


1. Vinkhuyzen AA, Eyles DW, Burne TH, et al. Gestational vitamin D deficiency and autism-related traits: the Generation R Study. Mol Psychiatry. 2016;