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Soak Up The Sun: Get Outside To Get Your Vitamin D


What the human body is capable of doing is pretty incredible. It can turn food into energy.It can turn water into sweat. It can turn new experiences into memories and, how about this for cool? It can turn sunlight into a vitamin required for human survival.

 While most of the different vita-mins that kids need to grow and thrive enter the body by eating food, Vitamin D is a different story. The body manufacture its own Vitamin D, but it needs one very important ingredient: the sun. The sun gives off rays, which we perceive as day-light. It also gives off energy called ultra-violet rays. These are invisible waves, but reach the Earth, even from as far away as the sun. When the ultraviolet rays touch bare skin, a process begins and the body creates its own Vitamin D.

Since the process is automatic and occurs when sunlight hits the skin, having enough Vitamin D seems easy. This is not the case though, as scientists found recently that many kids may not have enough Vitamin D (Academy of American Pediatrics, Oct 17, 2012). Even though only a few minutes of exposure to sunshine is needed for the body to manufacture the right levels of Vitamin D, kids spend less time out-side than in the past. Many parents insist that children wear sunblock while out-side to protect them from harmful effects of ultraviolet rays like sunburn and skin damage. Like its name suggests, sunblock blocks ultraviolet rays, and stops the body from making its own Vitamin D. People who live in cold, Northern climates with hard winters are at risk for lower levels of Vitamin D because they may go out during the day less often because of the cold.

Vitamin D deficiency-not having enough-is a problem because it has many important jobs in the body. Especially important for kids is the role Vitamin D plays in bone growth. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium from foods like leaf y greens and dairy products. Severe deficiency can lead to rickets, a condition where weakened leg bones can cause pain and difficulty when running and walking.

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