The role of vitamin d supplementation in children with autism spectrum disorder: A narrative review

Monia Kittana, Asma Ahmadani, Lily Stojanovska, Amita Attlee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) present with persistent deficits in both social communication and interactions, along with the presence of restricted and repetitive behaviors, resulting in significant impairment in significant areas of functioning. Children with ASD consistently reported significantly lower vitamin D levels than typically developing children. Moreover, vitamin D deficiency was found to be strongly correlated with ASD severity. Theoretically, vitamin D can affect neurodevelopment in children with ASD through its anti-inflammatory properties, stimulating the production of neurotrophins, decreasing the risk of seizures, and regulating glutathione and serotonin levels. A Title/Abstract specific search for publications on Vitamin D supplementation trials up to June 2021 was performed using two databases: PubMed and Cochrane Library. Twelve experimental studies were included in the synthesis of this review. Children with ASD reported a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency. In general, it was observed that improved vitamin D status significantly reduced the ASD severity, however, this effect was not consistently different between the treatment and control groups. The variations in vitamin D dose protocols and the presence of concurrent interventions might provide an explanation for the variability of results. The age of the child for introducing vitamin D intervention was identified as a possible factor determining the effectiveness of the treatment. Common limitations included a small number of participants and a short duration of follow-ups in the selected studies. Long-term, well-designed randomized controlled trials are warranted to confirm the effect of vitamin D on severity in children with ASD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number26
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2022


  • ASD severity
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Children
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Vitamin D supplement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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