A Randomised-Controlled Trial of Vitamin D and Omega-3 Long Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in the Treatment of Core Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children

  • Hajar Mazahery
  • Cathryn A. Conlon
  • Kathryn L. Beck
  • Owen Mugridge
  • Marlena C. Kruger
  • Welma Stonehouse
  • Carlos A. CamargoJr.
  • Barbara J. Meyer
  • Bobby Tsang
  • Beatrix Jones
  • Pamela R. von HurstEmail author
Original Paper


We evaluated the efficacy of vitamin D (VID), omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 LCPUFA, OM), or both (VIDOM) on core symptoms of ASD. New Zealand children with ASD (n = 73; aged 2.5–8.0 years) received daily 2000 IU vitamin D3, 722 mg docosahexaenoic acid, both, or placebo. Outcome measures were Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS) and Sensory Processing Measure (SPM). Of 42 outcome measures comparisons (interventions vs. placebo), two showed greater improvements (P = 0.03, OM and VIDOM for SRS-social awareness) and four showed trends for greater improvements (P < 0.1, VIDOM for SRS-social communicative functioning, OM for SRS-total, VIDOM for SPM-taste/smell and OM for SPM-balance/motion). Omega-3 LCPUFA with and without vitamin D may improve some core symptoms of ASD but no definitive conclusions can be made.


Vitamin D Omega-3 Autism Intervention Children Supplement Core symptoms 


Author Contributions

PRvH: conceived and designed the study, acquired funding and ethics approval, and supervised the study; HM and OM: coordinated recruitment, participant management, and data collection; HM: conducted the data-analysis with supervision from BJ; HM: prepared the manuscript; CC, KLB, and MK: supervised the trial; WS: advised on the omega-3 fatty acid section and statistical analysis; CACJr: advised on the vitamin D section; BM: advised on the RBC fatty acids laboratory protocol; BT: advised on the autism section. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


Partial funding for the study was provided by Massey University Strategic Innovation Fund, Massey University, New Zealand. Additional support was provided by Douglas Nutrition, Pty. Ltd., NZ who were supplying the active supplement and identical-appearing placebo, but who had no input into study design, implementation, data management, statistical analysis or reporting of results.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hajar Mazahery
    • 1
  • Cathryn A. Conlon
    • 1
  • Kathryn L. Beck
    • 1
  • Owen Mugridge
    • 1
  • Marlena C. Kruger
    • 1
  • Welma Stonehouse
    • 2
  • Carlos A. CamargoJr.
    • 3
  • Barbara J. Meyer
    • 4
  • Bobby Tsang
    • 5
  • Beatrix Jones
    • 5
  • Pamela R. von Hurst
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.College of HealthMassey UniversityAucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation, Food and Nutrition FlagshipAdeliadeAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Emergency Medicine, Massachusetts General HospitalHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  4. 4.School of Medicine, Lipid Research Centre, Illawarra Health & Medical Research InstituteUniversity of WollongongWollongongAustralia
  5. 5.University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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