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The connection between mitochondrial dysfunction and autism

(NaturalHealth365) Back in 2008, the United States government conceded, in open court, that Hannah Poling had an “underlying” mitochondrial dysfunction which caused her injuries – when given 5 vaccine shots (at one time) for 9 infectious diseases. Naturally, the government has no scientific proof that Hannah had this disorder before getting the vaccine shots – but doesn’t it make you wonder how many other kids are undiagnosed with mitochondrial dysfunction before getting vaccinated?

Hannah Poling’s parents are one of the few who have won in vaccine court. Their daughter was injured by vaccinations and the ruling states that Hannah suffers from a mitochondrial disorder – a dysfunction in basic cell metabolism. Mitochondrial disorders span a wide range of symptoms including muscle weakness, developmental delays and susceptibility to infection.

When Hannah’s case was first discussed, experts thought that at best 5 percent of the population suffered from mitochondrial disorders; however this does not seem to be the case.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found that children with autism are far more likely to have deficits in their ability to produce cellular energy than neuro-typical children. Researchers found that cumulative damage and oxidative stress in the mitochondria could influence both the onset and severity of autism. This suggests a stronger and broader reach than initial estimates suggested.

The authors of the study suggested that deficiencies in the ability to fuel brain neurons might lead to some of the cognitive impairments associated with autism. They found that the mitochondria from children with autism consumed far less oxygen than those from the neuro-typical group. One critical mitochondria enzyme complex known as NADH oxidase has only one third of the oxygen consumption. In fact, 80 percent of autistic children tested had lowered activity of NADH oxidase.

“A 66 percent decrease is significant,” said Cecilia Giulivi, the study’s lead author. “When these levels are lower, you have less capability to produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate) to pay for cellular work. Even if this decrease is considered moderate, deficits in mitochondrial energy output do not have to be dismissed, for they could be exacerbated or evidenced during the perinatal period but appear subclinical in the adult years.”

The right nutrition can help children with mitochondrial dysfunction

According to the journal Pediatric Neurology, mitochondrial disease patients can have altered caloric needs compared with the general population. Optimizing the number and quality of calories has been shown to improve mitochondrial health in these children. Supplements such as ubiquinol, L-carnitine, folinic acid and vitamins C and E can help people with mitochondrial disorders.

In my practice, I have found nutrition to be a key factor in helping people with mitochondrial disease. In addition to the supplements already mentioned, the following is what I recommend:

• 3 cups daily (equal to one dinner plate, piled high) of green leaves, such as kale, which are high in vitamins B, A, C, K, and minerals

• 3 cups daily of sulfur-rich vegetables from the cabbage-and onion families, mushrooms and asparagus

• 3 cups daily of brightly colored vegetables, fruits and/or berries, which are a good source of antioxidants

• Wild fish or animal-based omega-3′s

• Grass-fed meat

• Organ meats for vitamins, minerals and CoQ10

• Seaweed for iodine and selenium

• Vitamins B1, B9 (Folate) and B12

• Iodine

Getting a picky child to eat some of these items may be tricky. If your child will drink smoothies, that is a wonderful place to add berries and greens. You can buy organic grass fed beef, grind the vegetables and then make patties from the combination; served on a gluten free bun. Gluten-free, pancakes with berries are also a good option.

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