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Is Your Family Getting Enough Vitamin D?

At Body Ecology, our mission is to improve the health and happiness of adults and children.  Along the way, we discovered Meg Brown, former corporate executive, single mom of two adopted boys and Body Ecology follower.  Meg’s focus on empowering parents to create healthy, happy families is what inspired this Conscious Parenting column. You can follow Meg and her family’s journey at www.ConsciousFamilyJournal.com.

Who knew that a week at Disney World could be good for your family’s health?

We are happily spending two weeks in Florida right now. While the kids were equally excited about the prospect of spending time with Grandma, Grandpa and Mickey Mouse, I was looking forward to something else: Sunshine.

I love my parents dearly, but I was craving the sunshine... and I knew that my children and I all needed a healthy shot of the “sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D.

Who Needs Vitamin D?

We all need adequate amounts of vitamin D. It is an essential ingredient when it comes to absorbing calcium and building healthy bones in children and adults. It also plays an important role in creating a strong immune system by helping your body defend against chronic low grade inflammation.

According to new research, vitamin D may even help protect against serious conditions such as cancer, type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis.1

Unfortunately, about 40% of the US population suffers from a vitamin D deficiency.

Here is the good news: Our bodies produce all the vitamin D that we need, when our skin is exposed to adequate, periodic sunlight.

The bad news? Many people don’t get enough healthy sun exposure.

In fact, if you live above a line drawn from Los Angeles, CA to Columbia, SC, chances are good that you and your children do not receive adequate sunlight to produce needed amounts of vitamin D throughout the year.2

How to Ensure Your Family Gets Enough of the Sunshine Vitamin

  1. Know Your Numbers. Vitamin D is a hot topic of research right now. There is an ongoing debate about how much vitamin D is required to build those healthy bones in our children. Last fall, the American Academy of Pediatrics doubled its recommended daily dosage of vitamin D to 400 IU per day for children from infancy to adolescence.3
  2. Optimize Sun Exposure. It’s not called the sunshine vitamin for nothing. Your body is designed to create vitamin D from sunlight. Exposing your face, legs or back to the sun for up to 30 minutes, two or three times a week, will usually allow your body to produce all the Vitamin D that you need.

    Some caveats: The further you are from the equator, the weaker the sunlight and the more exposure is required. Also, darker skinned family members will absorb sunlight at a slower rate and therefore need additional exposure time.4

  3. Be Smart in the Sun. Your body will not absorb the healing benefits of sunlight through a layer of sunscreen, so you need to go “au naturel.” Healthy sun exposure means that if you are planning to generate your daily dose of vitamin D on a family ski outing, you monitor your exposure time carefully. Apply sunscreen before the glare off the snow gives your beautiful child an unhealthy sunburn.

    For those of you lucky enough to live on the beach in Mexico, increase your sunscreen applications accordingly. And invite me for a visit, please.

  4. Have Fun in the Sun. If you live in a cold climate, getting healthy sun exposure can feel more like torture. That cold, bitter wind cuts right through my four layers of fleece and long underwear and freezes everything it finds.

    Why not create your own “après ski” space right in your own backyard? Find a spot that is protected from the wind, but exposed to the sun. Put out a couple Adirondack chairs and throw a log in the fire-pit. Blast some party music through your outdoor speakers. Circle the troops and turn your faces into the sun.

    Get your Vitamin D with fermented foods and drinks! Delicious raw cultured butter and tasty, calming fermented milk kefir are satisfying, feel good food sources of vitamin D. You can make your own cultured butter and milk kefir with Body Ecology’s Culture Starter and Kefir Starter . Or buy both today for a 10% discount!

  5. Supplement with Vitamin D from Healthy, Cultured Butter. Many parents turn to milk and orange juice products fortified with vitamin D, but this may not feel like the right solution for families following a Body Ecology lifestyle. Butter – organic, cultured butter – is a great alternative source of vitamin D. Teach your children to make healthy butter for your family, using the Body Ecology Culture Starter.
  6. Supplement with Vitamin D from Healthy Fish Sources. Do your children eat fish? Introduce them to the delicious, healthy benefits of salmon. Vital Choice Wild Seafood & Organics  offers the real deal: Pure, sustainable, Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon . Yum.

Keep in mind that it takes time (months) to reverse a chronic vitamin D deficiency.5 Start now, to help your children build healthy bones and healthy habits to last a lifetime.

And now, I think I’ll go take a walk in the sun.

Sources:

  1. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD <http://www.webmd.com/kathleen-m-zelman> , Kathleen M., “Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D?” (Link to:  http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/are-you-getting-enough-vitamin-d <http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/are-you-getting-enough-vitamin-d> ), WebMD.
  2. DeNoon, Daniel J., “Supplement Your Knowledge of Vitamin D: Here's the Scoop on Vitamin D, From Fun in the Sun to the Debate Over Dosage” (Link to: http://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/news/20080519/supplement-your-knowledge-of-vitamin-d), WebMD.
  3. Barclay, MD, Laurie, “American Academy of Pediatrics Updates Guidelines for Vitamin D Intake” (Link to:http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/581999), MedScape Today.
  4. DeNoon, Daniel J., “Supplement Your Knowledge of Vitamin D: Here's the Scoop on Vitamin D, From Fun in the Sun to the Debate Over Dosage” (Link to: http://www.webmd.com/osteoporosis/news/20080519/supplement-your-knowledge-of-vitamin-d), WebMD.
  5. Adams, Mike, “Vitamin D myths, facts and statistics” (Link to: http://www.naturalnews.com/z003069.html<http://www.naturalnews.com/z003069.html> ), NaturalNews.

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Information and statements regarding dietary supplements/products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Information on this website is provided for informational purposes only and is a result of years of practice and experience by the author. This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal, or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your healthcare provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read on this website.

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