Vitamins and Down Syndrome


Do vitamins really work to help persons with Down Syndrome perform better?Yes, they do.And you donít have to spend your life savings or do blood tests or rely on persons unknown to determine what to give.The vitamin protocol that worked for my grandson Chris is at the end of this article.You may need to adjust it because everyone is an individual with different needs, but this provides a good starting point.


Chris was born in February 1991, and we spent the first few years dealing with heart problems, leukemia, sleep apnea, and such.He really didnít lag that far behind in developmental stages such as crawling, sitting, and walking.Other than not being potty trained, he was almost a typical four-year old.


But, as he grew older, it seemed he was losing ground in some areas.In a sense, he knew more and could do more at six than he could at ten.I remember doing homework with him.He had the pencil in his hand but just couldnít connect.He was trying hard which prompted me to find out why he couldnít learn.


I asked his special education teacher what was wrong.I figured she would know, but she didnít.She told me to ask his doctor what was missing.The doctor said that nothing was missing and that Chris is just wired differently and canít make the connections.


It took a couple of years but in a conversation with a Chemistry student I found the answer that centers on the extra chromosome. Whatever that chromosome produces, there is too muchó50% more than normal.This excessive debris (my term) builds up in the brain and contributes to the learning problems.


In his book, How to Live Longer and Feel Better, Linus Pauling confirms this theory and discusses the work of several doctors who performed double blind studies with vitamins and persons with Down Syndromewith great success.Dr. Pauling notes that Bronson Laboratories in California carries a similar vitamin supplement.


I found Bronsonís phone number on the web (1-800-235-3200) and ordered three bottles of GTC#2.Within a week, I got a call from Chrisí personal assistant wanting to know what happened.†† Chris was involved with his work and trying for a change.He switched from being left handed to being right handed and was actually writing.


Now all the special education staff want to know what I did.I donít know if we can catch up for all the years he wasnít getting the extra vitamins but weíre going to try.The biggest achievement is that he is no longer in pull ups.He never cared one way or another about being wet or dirty before but now he does.Thatís a great accomplishment.


Iíve also discovered what not to give.I had read studies indicating that Acetyl l-Carnitine had proven to be beneficial for persons with Down Syndrome and gave it to Chris.Then I read in Discover magazine about how great it is, but that it overloads the liver so one should take Alpha Lipoic Acid to balance the effects.So I added the ALA, but it lowers the blood sugar and that caused a lethargic problem.I donít like anything that interferes with the liver, so I quit giving it to him.At first I thought it didnít matter, but over time it did.So now I give him 500 mg of l-Carnitine instead.It isnít as potent as the Acetyl, and many vegetarians take it as itís an amino acid found in meat.


Selenium and COQ-10 were suggested to me by two professionals to be good supplements for Chris to take.Again, I ran into problemsóChris turned into a zombie and one of them even lowered his thyroid reading.(He had his annual oncology appointment and they always do a thyroid test and thatís how we discovered the abnormal reading.)In less than ten days, he went from vibrant to blank.It took a couple of months to get him back on track.I donít know which of the two caused the problems, but Iím not going to try either again.


Vitamin E is a good antioxidant but has limits, 600 IU (international units) daily.It also

is fat soluble and stored in the liver, so you have to be careful with it.I give Chris a chewable 400 IU Vitamin E every other day because his heart was damaged by chemotherapy when he had leukemia at 18 months.The GTC#2 has 50 IU per capsule.You may not need to add any more to the protocol.Other vitamins that should be taken with care are A, D, and K which have toxic amounts.I do not give Chris any additional supplements of these.


Calcium also has a negative effect on Chris.It is a relaxant and Chris doesnít need any relaxants.He needs stimulants.I found pistachio nuts and spinach to be good stimulants for him.They contain glumatic acid and are healthy.


Since Chris doesnít know how to swallow a pill, I get the capsules and empty them in his morning orange juice and hide it in his ketchup (his number 1 favorite) at dinnertime.I also put a tablespoon of EFAs (Essential Fatty Acids) in his orange juice.One time he balked at drinking it, and I told him that was what made him smart.He has drunk it ever since.†† The brain needs fat to work, but not all fat is equal.I think years of a low fat diet might have added to his learning problems.Now I cook his morning egg in olive oil and give him the EFAs.They do make a difference.I quit giving them to him for a while, and there was a noticeable decline.I started them up again, and he improved once more.


I give him Vitamin C sweetened with fructose before his meals.But I always brush his teeth afterwards to make sure no sugar or ascorbic acid is left on his teeth.Since he has been on vitamin C, his immune system has improved greatly and he rarely gets sick anymore.No flu shots either and no flu.Vitamin C also helps in his school performance.But, be careful, Vitamin C has what is called ďbowel toleranceĒ; if you take too much, you will get diarrhea.So build up slowing at 250 mgs at a time to the recommended 1000 mg daily.


If you donít wish to get the GTC#2, a good vitamin B complex will help.It doesnít do as much as the GTC#2, but it is better than nothing.Be sure that it contains all the B vitamins.You donít want to do just one B vitamin because they need to be balanced; otherwise, you may end up with other health problems.And donít get the mega doses either, there are some at 5000% the daily requirement and that is too much.At first, the urine is very yellow but that usually abates over time.†† Also you would need to include a multivitamin if you do just the Bs and not the GTC#2 to ensure all the needed vitamins and minerals requirements are meet.


And, if you think you can get all you need through diet, you canít without eating your weight in good healthy food and spending a fortune.I know because I tried that too.I do try to get as much as I can through the food we eat, but we still need supplementation.


Before I give Chris any supplement, I take it myself.He doesnít tell me if anything is wrong or how it makes him feel, etc.So I take it; and, even though I donít have Down Syndrome, I have a vague idea what is going on.In fact, I now take a vitamin B complex and the l-Carnitine myself because it helps me to focus and concentrate.


How do I know that these things work?


Individuals with Down Syndrome do not know what placebo effect means.I donít tell Chris he is getting something new.I just give it to him and watch.I also get feedback from the special education staff who do not know when I have given him anything new.And others in his life who see him both frequently and infrequently have commented on how much he has gained both physically and mentally.


For the first time in his life, Chris is now on the normal childís growth chart.Before he was always below the lines.He has also thinned out the baby fat.Some may say that all of this would have happened anyway but I know better.†† He had been on a downhill slide since around age 7, and it would have only gotten worse.


Please be aware that this isnít a cure for Down Syndrome, but an aid in helping those with Down Syndrome perform at an optimal level.If I can get Chris to write his name and count to 10, then I know it has been a success.


Nutritional suggestions


Weíve always eaten well but now we eat even better.I discovered, though, that chicken and any other food that has high amounts of tryptophan causes him to turn autistic.This includes turkey, milk products, bananas, and some soy products.Itís a night and day difference within minutes of eating the food.


Red meat provides something vital to his performance. I think itís the l-carnitine or some other protein or amino acid. I donít want to give him too much, though, so we eat it for dinner in rotation with fish and pork (none of the cured pork meats).I buy untainted meat from a health food store.It does not contain antibiotics, growth hormones, or any other additives.It is expensive but tastes far better


Chris doesnít tolerate sugar well either.And he has developed a gluten intolerance too.I quit feeding him these foods, and he has come light years in just weeks.


I give Chris fish once a week because it is a brain food.But, since pregnant women are only supposed to eat one piece a week because of the chemicals, I keep Chris at the same level.I also give him fish oil just twice a week for the same reason.


Water is very important for everyone and Down Syndrome just as much.It helps clean the body of the toxins and helps prevent the dry skin and constipation that goes along with the syndrome.I get reverse osmosis water because our tap water is loaded with chemicals.


Other things to do


I read at another website to not use commercial toothpaste, and so I switched to a fluoride natural toothpaste and gained a little more.I bought him a natural deodorant because many of the commercials brands contain aluminum.By the way, I switched to the natural toothpaste and deodorant for myself.


I wash our fresh fruits and vegetables in a bottled wash that cleans offbacteria and pesticide residue.


Vitamin Protocol


1 GTC#2 twice daily

500 mg Vitamin C twice daily

1000 mg Fish Body Oil twice a week

1 tablespoon of EFAs (Essential Fatty AcidsóOmega 3, 6, 9) daily


Nutritional Protocol


No dairy products

Occasional sweets

Fish once a week

Red meat

Good fats like olive oil and nuts

Lots of fruits and vegetables




No commercial toothpaste

No commercial deodorant

Daily exercise

Lots of quality water


If you have any questions or wish to share other experiences, please email me at




Pauling, Linus:How to Live Longer and Feel Better, Avon Books, Madison, NY, 1986.


October 20, 2003