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At a glance: Vitamin B6 and magnesium
Type of therapy
Alternative
The claim
Cures autism
Suitable for
Children with ASD
Research rating

Find out more about this rating system in our FAQs.

Not enough research available.
Warnings
Warning There have been reports of significant side effects in some individuals. As a result, there is a caution against the use of large doses of vitamins.
Time

Estimate of the total time for family in hours per week and duration.

0-10 Treatment is ongoing, but it takes only a little time to administer the vitamins.
Cost

Estimate of cost to family per session/item or week.

$0-30 The cost will vary depending on how much and how often the vitamins need to be taken.
Visit the Autism Service Pathfinder to browse Service Providers information.

About this intervention

What is it?
Vitamin B6 and magnesium therapy involves giving a person with autism large doses of vitamin B6 (with magnesium).

Who is it for?
This therapy is for any child with autism.

What is it used for?
This approach aims to improve communication, social interaction and behaviour.

Where does it come from?
This approach is based on a 1960s theory that suggests that some psychiatric disorders, including autism, are caused by vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Initially, vitamin B6 was used as a treatment for schizophrenia, and was later used with children with ‘autistic syndrome’.

What is the idea behind it?
Supporters of this therapy believe that people with autism may have a vitamin B6 deficiency, and that this is a cause of autism. It’s thought that, when large doses of vitamin B6 are taken, the deficiency will be removed, thus curing the autism.

What does it involve?
There are no established practice guidelines for this approach. Generally, it is suggested that large doses of vitamin B6 (usually in tablet form) should be taken. Magnesium is also taken to help the body absorb the vitamin B6 and to reduce any side effects.

Cost considerations?
The cost of this therapy depends on the vitamin brand used, the dose, and how often it is taken.

Does it work?
More high-quality research is needed to determine the effectiveness of this therapy.

Possible side-effects of giving large doses of vitamin B6 include sensory neuropathy (inflammation or wasting away of the sensory nerves), headache, depression, vomiting and photosensitivity (sensitivity to light).

Who practises this method?
Although vitamins and minerals are available in many health food stores and pharmacies, it is always best to speak to your GP or paediatrician, or a dietitian, before using megadoses. 

You will also need a doctor or other medical practitioner to test your child’s current levels of these vitamins and minerals.

Parent education, training, support and involvement
Parents are required to ensure their child takes the supplement before each meal for the duration of the therapy. They may also need to accompany the child for tests.

Where can I find a practitioner?
It is best to speak to your GP or paediatrician or a dietitian about this therapy.

 
 
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  • Last Updated 24-03-2010
  • Last Reviewed 02-11-2010
  • National Autism Center (2009). National Standards Report – Addressing the need for evidence-based practice guidelines for Autism Spectrum Disorders. Massachusetts: National Autism Center.

    Nye, C., & Brice, A. (2005). Combined vitamin B6-magnesium treatment in autism spectrum disorder (Cochrane review). The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (No. 2), Oxford.

    Realmuto, G.M., & Azeem, M.W. (2008). Autistic disorder. In S.H. Fatemi, P.J. Clayton, & N. Sartorius (Eds.). The medical basis of psychiatry (3rd ed. pp. 355-373), New York: Humana.

    Roberts, J.M.A., & Prior, M. (2006). A review of the research to identify the most effective models of practice in early intervention for children with autism spectrum disorders. Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing, Australia.