Vitamin N - Ask Your Doctor If It’s Right for You…It’s almost impossible to turn on the TV today and not see an ad for the latest drug that will fix anything that you can think of. Can’t sleep at night? Trouble breathing? Low energy? Do your feet hurt? They seem to run through everything that could conceivably be wrong with you until you say “yes, that’s what’s wrong with me... I need that pill.” I sometimes think about my daughter growing up in this world where everything that is wrong with you can be fixed by the latest drug. Then I remember that the real issue is the TV itself, and that’s when I hit the off button and we head out to the woods for some Vitamin N.
When I worked in Oregon, I had the pleasure of meeting with Mary Brown, M.D., one of the nation’s top pediatricians on the benefits of outdoor exploration and play. A past member of the board of directors for the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Brown was promoting a new “cure” to address some of the most urgent health threats to children, including obesity and the negative influence of electronic media. Called Vitamin N, this prescription doesn’t come in a pill: the “N” is for nature. She encouraged exploration of the natural world and stated that Vitamin N can have a profound positive effect on children’s mental and physical health that can last a lifetime. As she stressed, exposure to the natural world is considered a cure for various childhood health threats.
Scientific research confirms the benefits of Vitamin N as we are learning how time in nature lowers blood pressure, reduces stress, and bolsters our immune system, not to mention the positive effect it has on the growing childhood obesity epidemic we are facing. In fact, the benefits from contact with nature are now so well documented that they’re showing up on the health care industry’s agenda, and protecting nature can be seen as a public health strategy. The American Public Health Association now urges health practitioners to advise patients to spend more time in nature for exercise and play, and has called for more green space in school yards, medical facilities, and urban design.
I think it is fair to say that the threat to getting enough Vitamin N can sometimes be attributed to the child. As one fourth grader put it when asked why he preferred the indoors over the outdoors – “because that’s where the outlets are”. That’s why it is important for parents to model good habits by getting outside more. Asbury Woods provides a perfect opportunity for a weekly family hike in the woods that is free and close to home. So this spring join us in the woods and get more Vitamin N in your life – no prescription required!
From the Woods,
Larry Berrin, President/CEO