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Outdoor Time Helps Kids Get Sunshine Vitamin
Prior to working for the National Wildlife Federation, I did communications work for the trade association that represents the vitamin supplement industry. I never thought there would be much intersection between my past and present positions , but the recent announcement from the National Academies of Science Institute of Medicine about vitamin D proved me wrong.
The Institute is recommending an increase in the amount of daily vitamin D both adults and children should get, to 600 International Units. A large amount of evidence which formed the basis of the new intake values confirms the role of Vitamin D in promoting skeletal growth and maintenance and the amounts needed to avoid poor bone health.
Sunlight triggers the natural production of Vitamin D in the skin and contributes to people’s vitamin D levels. However, some people just can’t make enough Vitamin D or get enough in their diet.
Commenting on the Institute’s recommendation, Dr. Russell Chesney, professor and chairman of pediatrics at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis says “kids these days are on house arrest.”
While not in handcuffs, we do know from studies that kids today are spending almost 8 hours a day inside plugged into some kind of electronic media. That’s a far cry from decades past when kids headed out the door yelling “Mom, I’m going out to play, I’ll be home in time for dinner.”
But helping kids get their daily quotient of Vitamin D isn’t hard. Just open up the back door and encourage them to go outside and play. Combined with a varied diet, getting a Green Hour every day can go a long way to making kids healthier with the Vitamin D they need. Best of all, playing outside is fun, increases creativity, reduces stress, and can help kids be better students.
If your child is a picky eater, as many are, time playing outside can be especially important. Even when it isn’t sunny outside UVA rays are still getting thru the cloud cover so daily time outdoors should be part of children’s daily routine. There is a reason it’s called the sunshine vitamin and Mother Nature can help kids get their daily dose.