Zinc, Copper, and Autism Spectrum Disorder

Joint Research

Research indicates that children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) appear to be at risk for zinc (Zn) deficiency, copper (Cu) toxicity, and often disturbed metallothionein system functioning (1-4). Working with international researchers, the following is a summary of our work.

Li et al. (2014) investigated the serum levels of Zn and Cu in 60 Chinese children with ASD (48 boys, 12 girls) and a control group of 60 healthy sex-matched and age-matched individuals (2). The researchers also evaluated the autism severity using the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) score. The mean serum Zn levels and Zn/Cu ratio in the study were significantly lower in the ASD children compared with the control group (P<0.001). At the same, the serum Cu levels were significantly higher in the ASD children compared with the control group (P<0.001). It was in the study found a significant negative association between the Zn/Cu ratio and CARS scores (r=-0.345, P=0.007) (2).

Macedoni-Lukšič et al. (2015) determined the serum levels of Zn and Cu in a group of Slovenian children with ASD (N = 52, average age = 6.2 years) and a control group of children with other neurological disorders (N = 22, average age = 6.6 years), matched in terms of intellectual abilities (3). Compared to the control group, the ASD group had significantly elevated serum Cu/Zn ratio (95% confidence interval for children with ASD=1.86-2.26; 95% confidence interval for the control group=1.51-1.88) (3).

Crăciun et al. (2016) investigated the levels of Zn and Cu in whole blood, as well as the Cu/Zn ratio in a group of 28 Romanian ASD children. No significant difference in whole blood Cu was observed. However, Cu/Zn ratio was ~15 % (p = 0.008) higher in ASD children than that in the control ones. The results of the study may be indicative of Zn deficiency in ASD children (4).

In conclusion, our research suggests that providing Zn to ASD children may be an important component of a treatment protocol, especially in children with Zn deficiency (1-4). Mercury accumulation may occur as a cause or consequence of metallothionein dysfunction in ASD children, which may be one of the causes of Zn deficiency. Metallothioneins are proteins with important functions in metal metabolism and protection. It is important to monitor and follow the values for both Cu and Zn together during Zn therapy because these two trace elements are both antagonists in function, and essential for living cells (1).

– Geir Bjørklund

 

References

1. Bjørklund G. The role of zinc and copper in autism spectrum disorders. Acta Neurobiol Exp 2013; 73: 225–236.

2. Li SO, Wang JL, Bjørklund G, Zhao WN, Yin CH. Serum copper and zinc levels in individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Neuroreport 2014; 25: 1216-1220.

3. Macedoni-Lukšič M, Gosar D, Bjørklund G, Oražem J, Kodrič J, Lešnik-Musek P, Zupančič M, France-Štiglic A, Sešek-Briški A, Neubauer D, Osredkar J. Levels of metals in the blood and specific porphyrins in the urine in children with autism spectrum disorders. Biol Trace Elem Res 2015; 163: 2-10.

4. Crăciun EC, Bjørklund G, Tinkov AA, Urbina MA, Skalny AV, Rad F, Dronca E. Evaluation of whole blood zinc and copper levels in children with autism spectrum disorder. Metab Brain Dis 2016; 31: 887-890.

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. This video explores the previous and updated diagnostic criteria for ASD according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). In 2013 was the new edition of this manual published (DSM-5). The DSM-5 redefined the autism spectrum to encompass the previous (DSM-IV-TR) diagnoses of autism, Asperger syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and childhood disintegrative disorder. Autistic individuals are now placed on a continuum depending on the severity of their symptoms.

Niacin Therapy for Depression

Andrew W. Saul, PhD, is editor-in-chief of the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service and has published over 180 peer-reviewed articles. He has written or coauthored more than a dozen books, four of which were coauthored with niacin (vitamin B3) therapy pioneer Abram Hoffer, MD. Dr. Saul is featured in the popular documentary movie Food Matters. In 2013, he was inducted into the Orthomolecular Medicine Hall of Fame. His educational website is www.DoctorYourself.com, the largest non-commercial natural healing resource on the Internet. Dr. Saul is a CONEM member and a board member of both the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine and the Japanese College of Intravenous Therapy.

Andrew W. Saul, PhD, speaks in this excerpt from the documentary film Food Matters (2008) about niacin therapy for depression.

 

Evidence Supporting a Link between Dental Amalgams and Chronic Illness, Fatigue, Depression, Anxiety, and Suicide

Norway and Sweden have banned amalgam, reportedly due to environmental concerns. However, the use and toxic risk of dental amalgam fillings is still a subject of ongoing debate in many countries. Now, a review conducted by a team of international researchers has provided new evidence that mercury exposure from dental amalgam may cause or contribute to many chronic illnesses, as well as depression, anxiety and suicide.

The review article by Janet K. Kern and coworkers is published in Neuroendocrinology Letters (2014; 35 (7): 537-552). Three of the authors, Kern, Geir Bjørklund and Boyd E. Haley, are members of the Council for Nutritional and Environmental Medicine (CONEM). Kern is a director of CONEM. Bjørklund is founder and president of the association. 

 

Janet K. Kern, David A. Geier, Geir Bjørklund, Paul G. King, Kristin G. Homme, Boyd E. Haley, Lisa K. Sykes, and Mark R. Geier

Evidence supporting a link between dental amalgams and chronic illness, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and suicide

Neuro Endocrinol Lett 2014; 35 (7): 537-552 

 

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this review is to examine the evidence for a relationship between mercury (Hg) exposure from dental amalgams and certain idiopathic chronic illnesses – chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia (FM), depression, anxiety, and suicide. Dental amalgam is a commonly used dental restorative material that contains approximately 50% elemental mercury (Hg0) by weight and releases Hg0 vapor. Studies have shown that chronic Hg exposure from various sources including dental amalgams is associated with numerous health complaints, including fatigue, anxiety, and depression – and these are among the main symptoms that are associated with CFS and FM. In addition, several studies have shown that the removal of amalgams is associated with improvement in these symptoms. Although the issue of amalgam safety is still under debate, the preponderance of evidence suggests that Hg exposure from dental amalgams may cause or contribute to many chronic conditions. Thus, consideration of Hg toxicity may be central to the effective clinical investigation of many chronic illnesses, particularly those involving fatigue and depression.

 

ADHD, Autism, and Phenylketonuria

Acta Neurologica BelgicaResearchers at Assiut University have in collaboration with Geir Bjørklund evaluated the neuropsychological status in 78 children with early and continuously treated phenylketonuria (PKU) in Assiut, Upper Egypt. The article was on 10 January  2015 published online first in Acta Neurologica BelgicaThe first author of the study, Khaled Saad, is Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Assiut University, Assiut, Egypt. Bjørklund is founder and president of the Council for Nutritional and Environmental Medicine (CONEM).

 

Khaled Saad, Yasser Elserogy, Ahmed A. Abdel rahman, Abdulrahman Abdullah Al-Atram, Ismail L. Mohamad, Tarek T. H. ElMelegy, Geir Bjørklund, and Amira A. El-Houfy

ADHD, autism and neuroradiological complications among phenylketonuric children in Upper Egypt

Acta Neurol Belg. Article first published online: 10 JAN 2015. doi: 10.1007/s13760-014-0422-8 

 

ABSTRACT

The aim of this study is to evaluate the neuropsychological status in a cohort of children with early and continuously treated phenylketonuria in Assiut, Upper Egypt. The study was implemented in seventy-eight phenylketonuria (PKU) children. Only 34 patients met the inclusion criteria. Investigated patients were evaluated according to detailed history, neurological examination, Childhood Autism Rating Scale, full scale Intelligence Quotient, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, electroencephalography and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This study concluded that the prognosis for early diagnosed children with PKU treated from the first weeks of life is generally good. However, they are at increased risk for neurological complications and behavioral problems. So, neonatal screening for PKU is highly recommended in Egypt, for early detection and management. In addition, neuropsychological and MRI assessments in PKU children should be done.

 

 

A Psychiatrist’s Perspective on Antidepressants

Kelly Brogan, MD is a holistic women’s health psychiatrist in New York who believes in root-cause resolution of symptoms over pharma-driven disease-management. In this short video, she talks about four principal tenets that may undermine your current understanding of the efficacy and safety of antidepressant medication. Dr. Brogan is a CONEM member.

 

GI Health and the Autsm Cascade (Lecture)

Liz Lipski, PhD, CCN is academic director of Nutrition & Integrative Health Programs at Maryland University of Integrative Health in Laurel, Maryland. She is author of the books Digestive Wellness, Digestion Connection, and Digestive Wellness for Children. Lipski is also a CONEM member. In this lecture, Dr. Lipski talks about digestive health issues in autism spectrum disorders. Many people on the spectrum have digestive health issues such as irritable bowel syndrome, pain, gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, bacterial and/or fungal infections, heartburn and more. This lecture focuses on understanding what problems can occur and offer practical solutions to enhance overall health by balancing digestive issues. This includes testing, special diets, and use of supplements and herbs for common issues. This lecture was held on 13 October 2012 at the Fall 2012 Autism Research Institute Conference in Garden Grove, California.

The Toxicity of Mercury and Its Relationship to Neurological Illnesses and Oxidative Stress (Lecture)

Boyd E. Haley, Ph.D. is professor emeritus and former chairman of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Kentucky. He is president and CEO of CTI Science, a Lexington, Kentucky-based bio-technology firm. Haley is also a CONEM member. In this lecture, Professor Haley talks about mercury and other heavy metals, and their relationship to neurological illnesses (especially autism) and oxidative stress. The lecture was held in March 2010 at an IAOMT conference in Galloway, New Jersey.

The Fundamentals of Magnesium (Lecture)

Image 17This is a presentation by the American physician and naturopathic doctor Carolyn Dean. She is Medical Director of the Nutritional Magnesium Association, and has been at the forefront of health issues for more than 30 years. Dr. Dean is author and coauthor of numerous books, including The Magnesium Miracle. She is a CONEM member.

A great deal of attention has been focused on calcium but not nearly as much on magnesium, yet these minerals work together and need to be balanced for good health. Magnesium, which many call the “miracle mineral” is involved in over 325 known biochemical reactions in the body and is vital for health restoration, maintenance and enhancement. It impacts heart health, bone health, energy production and storage, women’s health, men’s health, athletic performance and stress management.

The Role of Zinc and Copper in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Acta Neurobiol Exp 2013, 2Children with Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) appear to be at risk for zinc (Zn) deficiency, copper (Cu) toxicity, have often low Zn/Cu ratio, and often disturbed metallothionein (MT) system functioning. The evidence presented in this paper suggests that providing Zn to autistic children may be an important component of a treatment protocol, especially in children with Zn deficiency. It is important to monitor and follow the values for both Cu and Zn together during Zn therapy, because these two trace elements are both antagonists in function, and essential for living cells. 

The review article by Geir Bjørklund is published in Acta Neurobiologiae Experimentalis (2013; 73 (2): 225–236). This peer-reviewed journal is published by Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology in Warsaw, Poland. Bjørklund is founder and president of Council for Nutritional and Environmental Medicine (CONEM).

 

Geir Bjørklund

The role of zinc and copper in autism spectrum disorders

Acta Neurobiol Exp (Wars) 2013; 73 (2): 225-236 

 

ABSTRACT

Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. Several studies have suggested a disturbance in the copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn) metabolism in ASDs. Zinc deficiency, excess Cu levels, and low Zn/Cu ratio are common in children diagnosed with an ASD. The literature also suggests that mercury accumulation may occur as a cause or consequence of metallothionein (MT) dysfunction in children diagnosed with an ASD, which may be one of the causes of Zn deficiency. MTs are proteins with important functions in metal metabolism and protection. Zinc and Cu bind to and participate in the control of the synthesis of MT proteins. Studies indicate that the GABAergic system may be involved in ASDs, and that Zn and Cu may play a role in this system.