Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Vitamin D in babies

The latest study to hit the news wires today was that 42% of babies and children are vitamin d Deficient, especially nursing babies because breast milk contains no vitamin D.

I read the reports and was fairly shocked. I am a strong believer that mother's milk is perfect for babies. If God didn't make it with vitamin D, then babies don't need dietary vitamin D, and taking supplements is a bad idea. Further, who set the amount of vitamin D infants need? What constitutes deficient?

The thing that shocked me most was that doctors only gave passing mention to the cause of the deficiency--the Doctors themselves! For years they have been telling parents to keep their children out of the sun and, if they MUST go out, do it when there is no direct sun and even then wear sunscreen (which interferes with Vitamin D production, according to the article I read). My doctor told me to put sunscreen on the kids every day, like we brush teeth every day.

When my doctors first told me that 6 years ago, I smiled and nodded and came home and said, "God designed humans to work outside. They've been doing it for centuries healthily. We aren't made to stay out of the sun completely. Someone is going to discover in a few years that this is a BAD idea, and they will have damaged thousands of kids' health over it." Besides, I have always worried about exposing kids to chemicals every day--and slathering on the sunscreen as part of the daily routine would certainly count as chemical exposure every day.

I, personally, have always encouraged my children to play in the sun every day. Not excessively, but kids need to play outside! It helps regulate their sleep, it keeps their skin healthy and cures eczema, it awakens their brains and keeps their muscles and lungs healthy. For all our playing outside, we've never had a sunburn (which, I understand, is what leads to skin cancer, not simply exposure to sunlight). And we've only used sunscreen when sunburn was a real risk--at swimming pools, when hiking, etc.

Instead of doctors saying they were wrong and now thousands of kids have weak bones and immune systems and are at risk of type I diabetes and multiple sclerosis (linked to weak immune systems caused by lack of Vitamin D), the doctors said, "It's because ALL children need vitamin D supplements!"

The problem with that is other studies I've read indicate bodies don't process dietary vitamin D the same way as sunlight vitamin D--and it doesn't have the same health benefits. Of course, it benefits the drug companies--why would they want you to get free vitamin d?

Doctors are not people to admit mistakes, generally, so I predict it will be years yet before they say, "That stupid previous generation of doctors hurt lots of kids--send your kids out in the sunshine every day!"

Granted, I do understand that sunshine can cause skin cancer. Our bodies were made to work in the sun outside. They were not made to suntan or to have massive amounts of skin exposed. I wonder if someone has done a study on whether the amount of skin you have tanned (ie is your belly and back Tan? upper limbs as well as lower limb?) is related to the chances you'll develop cancer. Is a farmers' tan healthier than a bikini tan?

1 comment:

Laura said...

Seriously, often I think, "God made the world this way and it's been working relatively well for 6,000+ years. Beyond the big accidents our ancestors had troubles with and vaccinations, etc. I'm not so sure we've gained a very great deal in some ways." It seems to me sometimes that we have created a different set of problems with our modern lifestyle than we started out with.