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Natural Awakenings Lehigh Valley

Kids, Go Out And Play!

Aug 05, 2011 01:01PM ● By Dian Freeman, M.A.

As children, many of us remember our mothers telling us to “go out and play.” Due to the tone of exasperation, her motive may have been to get us out of her hair, but the result was our receiving a very important nutrient: Vitamin D from the sun. Nowadays, fewer kids are playing outside, therefore may be missing adequate supplies of vitamin D.

We most often associate vitamin D with its function in building bones. It is true that combined with calcium and adequate magnesium, vitamin D is an important factor in building strong bones and teeth. That alone should encourage its use, but it does so much more.

A 2007 article in the Newark Star Ledger reports that chronic use of antidepressant and diabetes prescriptions continues to rise among children and young teens. Depression and diabetes are two conditions that can be caused or made worse by a vitamin D deficiency.

Australian researchers found that people with low vitamin D levels had a 57 percent increased risk of developing Type-2 diabetes compared with participants with blood levels in the recommended range.

In his popular newsletter, The Blaylock Wellness Report, Dr. Russell Blaylock writes that, “Vitamin D3 (the functional form) is, in truth, a neurohormone rather than a vitamin, meaning it has special effects on brain function. Deficiencies can cause mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. A number of studies have shown that low vitamin D3 levels increase one’s risk of major depression.”

Sedentary kids who spend daylight hours watching TV, playing video games or social networking on the computer are the most likely to gain weight and suffer from diabetes and depression.

In addition, the New York Times reports that scientists are studying vitamin D’s cancer protective roles and speculate that it may stop skin cancer cells from turning malignant. The Journal of Epidemiology reported that women who spent more time in the sun as a teen had 29 percent less chance of getting breast cancer than those who spent only an hour a day.

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, which means it can be stored in body fat until it’s needed. Those on a low fat diet are often at risk from not absorbing sufficient quantities of fat soluble vitamins like vitamin A, E and D. Since the coating of our nerves is up to 75 percent fat, a low fat diet with low levels of vitamin D absorption can lead to or add to neurological problems.

It is possible to have vitamin D levels checked by a healthcare provider. If the level is low, a supplement may be recommended. When taking supplements, vitamin D2 is typically prescribed by most medical sources. However, it can be difficult to absorb and usually requires 10 to 20 times the dosage than that of vitamin D3.

There is no doubt that the best natural source of vitamin D is the sun. Humans have been healthily playing and working in the sun for thousands of years. Statistically, since avoiding the sun and dietary fat, our collective health has never been worse. For those susceptible to sunburn, a few days of high quality antioxidant supplements before exposure to the sun should prime the skin to handle the sun naturally.

Very few foods in nature contain vitamin D. The flesh of fatty fish—such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel—and fish liver oils are among the best sources. Small amounts of vitamin D are found in beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks. Many foods in the dairy and grain families are fortified with vitamin D, but we shouldn’t count on those products as our only source.

So, the next time we see kids playing outside, their mom (exasperated or not) should be commended for sending them out to play.

Dian Freeman has a private practice in Morristown, NJ. She teaches a nutritional certification course, is certified in and practices Ondamed biofeedback, and lectures widely. She is currently enrolled at Drew University to obtain a doctorate in Medical Humanities. For more information, call 973-267-4816 or visit

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