Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Time for recess!

If the state of Illinois is to be taken seriously, physical development and health are a required part of our curriculum, so here's my two cents on that subject this fall. A friend sent me a link to this article about the importance of Vitamin D. I first read about Vitamin D about four years ago when I thought I might have fibromyalgia. At that time, I learned that many people who are deficient in Vitamin D will exhibit many of the symptoms of fibromyalgia. It was winter, which meant not enough sun in Illinois to get enough sunshine for proper Vitamin D synthesis, so I started taking a D supplement, and most of my symptoms disappeared. Since then, I've been spending more time outside in the summer and not using sunscreen unless I know I'll be out long enough to get burned.

So, other than educating our children about Vitamin D, what does this have to do with homeschooling? Quite simply, we need to make sure our kids get enough sunshine. As I read several years ago, the RDA for D supplementation was established more than half a century ago when people spent lots of time outside, and it was only established at a level to avoid rickets. As this new article points out, D-deficiency has now been linked to many diseases including several types of cancer. D is not present in any great amount in foods, which is why milk is fortified with D, although it is fortified at a level that scientists now know is not nearly enough. Vitamin D deficiency is becoming a real problem. Here are a few reasons why:

“The tendencies of people to live in cities where tall buildings block adequate sunlight from reaching the ground, to spend most of their time indoors, to use synthetic sunscreens that block ultraviolet rays, and to live in geographical regions of the world that do not receive adequate sunlight all contribute to the inability of the skin to biosynthesize sufficient amounts of vitamin D.”

To get enough Vitamin D, we need to spend time outside with our skin exposed to the sun, or take supplements -- 2,000 IU, according to the UC researcher, which is 10 times what the US government still says we need. Of course, when it comes to the sun, we need balance. With the current awareness of skin cancer risks, many people avoid the sun at all costs. I understand this, since my husband is a skin cancer survivor, but moderation is the key. I've read quotes from some dermatologists who get very angry about people "baking" in the sun. In another article, I read that you only need about 15 minutes of daily exposure on your face and arms to get enough D, so that's a far cry from baking or broiling or burning.

So, not only is physical education an important part of your child's overall education, but getting exercise outside in the sun is important for good health as well.


Susan Ryan said...

Interesting, Deborah. I've been more wary of fat soluble vitamins, but the sunlight is such a healer (in moderation). I know that if we have colds, it helps to put your face up to the sky and sweat it out a bit. (If that makes any sense)
Reading Storey's Poultry Guide, it's amazing how Vitamin D is part of the chain reaction that makes productive (and happy) chickens. Makes sense that the same balance is necessary for human body function. But humans don't act 'naturally' too much anymore in our country.

Cathy said...

I started taking a Vitamin D supplement for my rheumatoid arthritis about 5-6 months ago and so far so good. I have been amazed at the information I am reading about Vitamin D and how some researchers fear what is going to happen to the generation of kids that have grown up on sun screen as they age. My daughter has always been very sensitive to sunscreen anyhow, even the healthier types so we have found that early morning and late afternoon exposure doesn't require any sunscreen. Thanks for the post. Cathy