70% of U.S. Children Have Insufficient Vitamin D

by Ann Marie Michaels on August 4, 2009

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About 70 percent of U.S. children have low levels of vitamin D, which puts them at higher risk for bone and heart disease.

“We expected the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency would be high, but the magnitude of the problem nationwide was shocking,” said Dr. Juhi Kumar of Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center. (Source)

CORRECTION: I have changed the title of this post from “70% of U.S. Children Are Vitamin D Deficient” to “70% of U.S. Children Have Insufficient Vitamin D”. I was reading more about this study and according to Reuters “Nine percent were classified as ‘deficient’ in vitamin D, meaning the concentration of the nutrient in their blood was below 15 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL), while 61% were vitamin D ‘insufficient,’ with levels between 15 and 29 ng/mL.”

Meanwhile, on the Weston A. Price Foundation website, Krispin Sullivan writes, “Optimal values of 25(OH)D are 40-50 ng/ml; Acceptable values of 25(OH)D are 35-55 ng/ml; Levels above 55 ng/ml will be toxic for some individuals.” Sources: Reuters and WAPF

If this doesn’t prove we have a crisis of malnutrition in this country, I don’t know what does. Seventy percent is shocking. How did this happen?

Well, for one thing, kids don’t go outside much anymore. If they do go out, they’re covered head to toe with sunscreen, which blocks vitamin D production. When I was little, we used to spend all summer long at the country club, swimming and lying around in the sun. Or we’d be riding our bikes all day. And we never wore sunscreen.

We’re also not feeding our children the way we did even a few decades ago. When I was a kid in the early ’70s, we drank a lot of whole milk, ate fish or meat for dinner, and eggs and bacon cooked in butter for breakfast. And of course, back then, even McDonald’s French fries were cooked in beef tallow (that changed in 1983).

Nowadays, many American children are subsisting on a low-nutrient, low-fat diet. Instead of whole milk, they drink juice, soda pop, or skim milk (or soy or rice milk). Instead of eggs and bacon, they eat cereal made from refined flour. Instead of butter, they eat margarine. Instead of meat and fish for dinner, they eat pasta or salad.

Is it any wonder they are vitamin D deficient? We’ve all been conditioned to be afraid of animal fat, red meat and sun.

It’s like that quote from Woody Allen’s movie, Annie Hall, “Sun is bad for you. Everything our parents said was good is bad. Sun, milk, red meat… college.”

Turns out our parents were right after all. Sun, milk, and red meat are good for you.

How To Make Sure Your Kids Are Getting Enough Vitamin D

Considering that most of our kids are vitamin D deficient, this affects most of us parents. Here are some tips to boost vitamin D in children.

1. Soak Up the Sunshine

Every time we go to the beach or an outdoor pool, I see parents around the pool worriedly spraying and slathering sunscreen on their kids. When we were little we were outdoors so often, we didn’t get burned. We got deep tans every summer and our hair turned light.

According to Krispin Sullivan, we need to be outdoors during the middle of the day, 85% of our body exposed. She also says the recommendation of 10-20 minutes of sun a few times a week is inadequate:

Only sunning between 10 am and 2 pm during summer months (or winter months in southern latitudes) for 20-120 minutes, depending on skin type and color, will form adequate vitamin D before burning occurs.

The current suggested exposure of hands, face and arms for 10-20 minutes, three times a week, provides only 200-400 IU of vitamin D each time or an average of 100-200 IU per day during the summer months. In order to achieve optimal levels of vitamin D, 85 percent of body surface needs exposure to prime midday sun. (About 100-200 IU of vitamin D is produced for each 5 percent of body surface exposed, we want 4,000 iu.) Light skinned people need 10-20 minutes of exposure while dark skinned people need 90-120 minutes. (Source)

Skip the Sunscreen

Sunscreen blocks vitamin D production.

According to Michael F. Holick, M.D., Ph.D., of the Boston University School of Medicine, a sunblock with SPF 8 reduces the skin’s vitamin D production by 95 percent. “If you wear sunscreen ‘properly,’ you’ll become vitamin D deficient,” he says. Source

I don’t put sunscreen on my daughter. I try to make sure she gets frequent sun exposure so she’s less likely to burn. If she does start to burn, I just put a hat on her and cover her with clothes. But I see no need for sunscreen.

The great thing about vitamin D is the body stores it. So if you let your kids go outside and play all day in the summertime, sans the sunscreen, they’ll store vitamin D through the winter.

However, it is hard to get enough vitamin D from the sun, especially for those who live in a northern climate. So it’s important to provide adequate nutrition for your children.

2. Supplement With Cod Liver Oil

I believe it’s important to supplement the fat soluble vitamins A & D. Yes, you get them from food, but they are so critical to health, particularly in growing children, that I want to make sure they’re getting all they need.

Even the American Academy of Pediatrics is now saying we should supplement our children with vitamin D:

The American Academy of Pediatrics, which recently updated its vitamin D guidelines, now recommends that infants, children, and teens should take 400 IU per day in supplement form.
Supplements are especially important for children living in northerly regions where the sun may be too weak to maintain healthy vitamin D levels. (Source)

The traditional vitamin D supplement is cod liver oil. I’ve informally polled friends from all over the world: Sweden, Finland, India, Russia, Guatemala, and Honduras — they all grew up with cod liver oil.

I’ve been giving my daughter cod liver oil since she was 6 months old — and she’ll get it every day until she goes to college (of course I’ll send a bottle with her).

Recommended Brands of Cod Liver Oil

Not all brands of cod liver oil are the same and many are not recommended. Traditionally, cod liver oil was naturally fermented. Read my post about why fermented cod liver oil is best.

See my resources page for sources of fermented cod liver oil.

How Much To Take

According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, children aged 3 months to 12 years require a dose of cod liver oil that provides about 5000 IU vitamin A daily. The recommended dosages for cod liver oil provide about 500 IU vitamin D for children.

For more on recommended brands of cod liver oil and how much to take, please see this article.

3. Eat More Fish

Fatty fish — including salmon, herring, mackerel, and tuna — is very high in vitamin D. Oysters and shrimp also contain vitamin D.

We try to eat fish at least once or twice a week. We love mussels, oysters, salmon roe, salmon, crab, shrimp, and scallops. We’re also crazy about sushi. We even love anchovies, pickled herring sardines (fresh ones — not the kind in the tin).

If you don’t have ready access to fresh fish, you can buy frozen shrimp or salmon. You can also buy tins of sardines or jars of herring or oysters. Oysters in a jar may not taste the same as fresh oysters, but they can be used for oyster chowder or for fried oysters.

4. Go Back to Bacon and Lard

Did you know pig fat is very high in vitamin D? Who doesn’t love bacon?

We eat bacon at least once a week. We love bacon and eggs. I also add bacon to risotto, salads, baked beans, lentils, or make pasta sauce with it. I use the leftover bacon grease to cook with. You can use it to cook eggs, make refried beans or fried risotto, or sauté greens like Swiss chard or kale.

We also love pork sausage. Breakfast sausage, liverwurst, salami, pepperoni, prosciutto — there are so many ways to love pork.

Learn to Love Lard

As much as everyone loves bacon, people seem to hate lard. It’s gotten a bad rap over the years, but many people are coming around to eating it again.

Lard is pure pig fat and is extremely rich in vitamin D — second only to cod liver oil.

Did you know that 100 years ago, lard was a staple in American households and restaurants? Nobody cooked with vegetable oil or shortening. They used lard, beef tallow and butter.

Lard, like cod liver oil, is another one of those things people have been eating for centuries — all over the world. Did you know that lard is the traditional cooking fat used in Mexico, Central America, South America, Japan and China? It’s also traditional in Italy, Spain and many other countries.

But what about cholesterol? Interestingly, 100 years ago, heart attacks were unheard of. If you asked a medical doctor in 1909 about heart attacks, he would have no idea what you were talking about.

And what about the French paradox? I could go on, but I won’t.

It’s time to give up this foolishness about cholesterol and start loving lard again.

How To Buy Lard

I don’t recommend store-bought lard, since it’s usually partially hydrogenated. You also want to get pig fat from a farm that keeps the pigs outdoors. The more sun they soak up, the more vitamin D is retained in the fat. Talk to local farmers at the farmer’s market or check out EatWild.com for sources of pastured pig fat.

You can render your own lard at home very easily (it’s cheap, too). Best of all, it’s delicious. Makes the best pie crust. Mmm… fried chicken anyone? Click here to read my post about how to render lard and beef tallow. (It’s easy.)

5. Buy Pastured Eggs

Chickens raised on pasture produce eggs that are much higher in vitamin D. According to The Mother Earth News, eggs from pastured hens are 4-6 times higher in vitamin D than supermarket eggs. (Source)

Also — you want to eat the yolks. That’s where the vitamins are. Egg white omelettes are so five years ago.

6. Get Tested

It’s easy and inexpensive to get tested. Click here to order a home test online. Also, read this article about getting tested: Am I Vitamin D Deficient?

UPDATE: When I was writing this post, I was trying to remember where to find the online study that’s offering discounted testing.

Instead of $65 per test, you can get the home test for only $30! Here’s the link:

Grassrootshealth Vitamin D testing

Here’s the details, thanks to reader GeeNee:

You fill in a brief online questionnaire (less than 5 mins) and you get the chance to do a vitamin D test for only $30 (roughly £20). The full “trial” lasts 5 years (one test every 6 months), but you have the option of just signing up for one test with no obligation to continue (you’ll get a reminder email in 6 months).

I’m ordering the tests for our family. I’ll let you know our results

This post is a part of Real Food Wednesday, hosted this week at Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

Photo credit: Sunscreen, Baby and R.B. Rice Lard Bucket on Flickr
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{ 66 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenny @ Nourished Kitchen August 4, 2009 at 2:50 PM

I recently had mine tested and it was in the optimal range which is, of course, quite a different from the normal range. Given that vitamin D deficiency is implicated in so many diseases, it’s a wonder that this doesn’t get more press. Of course, the answer will be supplementation – not real food or sunshine ’cause those can kill ya, you know. And I’m sure supplementation will focus on cheap synthetic vitamin D and the deficiency will persist. Yuck.

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Mary P. August 4, 2009 at 3:02 PM

Good article! Liver is rich in vitamin D too.

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cheeseslave August 4, 2009 at 5:30 PM

Wow, Jenny, that’s great that you were in the optimal range.

Can you talk more about the difference between synthetic vitamin D supplements and food-based vitamin D supplements like cod liver oil?

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cheeseslave August 4, 2009 at 5:34 PM

By the way, of course it doesn’t get more press because most people are trying to create drugs to fix disease instead of just going back to a traditional diet that nourished us and helped to prevent disease.

Also, there’s this pervasive myth that Americans are not malnourished — that we eat really well and that illness is caused by eating too much “bad” stuff like cholesterol-rich foods. I think John Robbins, author of “Diet For A New America” is one of the people who started this idea. I remember reading that in his book when I was in college, which is why I became a vegetarian (it only lasted a few years).

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Christine August 4, 2009 at 5:50 PM

What a great article, thanks! I am happy to say my kids have not had a lick of sunscreen applied all summer. Granted, we’ve had a rather soggy summer so far, but still…none last summer either. Well, once, I caved into the peer pressure after my one-year old got a bit scorched. But one time, and not again since. I love seeing how tanned they’re getting – nothing cuter than a coppertone bummy!

I have a question about what you think about those D-Drops.

Off to thaw out my grassfed bacon for tomorrow’s breakfast…

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Cassie August 4, 2009 at 5:57 PM

I quit putting sunscreen on my kids a few years ago, I just didn’t know what the chemicals in it were doing to them. People are SHOCKED (unpleasantly so) when we go to the lake or my kids play outside without it! But, I must say, I second guess myself when I read articles that say just getting 1 sunburn can increase your chance of skin cancer by a huge margin.
I feel the same way about eating real food. We mostly do, but, I can so easily be swayed. It’s hard to know what to do……
I really appreciate your blog and I’m glad I found it!!
Thanks for sharing!
Cassie

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cheeseslave August 4, 2009 at 6:12 PM

Christine -

I don’t know much about those vitamin D drops. Are they synthetic?

I guess I’ve never looked into them because I figure we’re getting everything we need from cod liver oil and all the food we eat.

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cheeseslave August 4, 2009 at 6:21 PM

Cassie -

I know what you mean about the sunscreen. People give me those looks, too.

But those same people give me looks when I tell them I feed my kid raw milk. Or when I tell them we don’t vaccinate. Or when I tell them I fed her liver and egg yolks instead of cereal for her first solids.

I just don’t tell them anything anymore. :-)

Interestingly, it’s the immigrants I’ve known who have no problem with any of these things. We had two nannies — one was Russian and one was from Guatemala. And we have a housekeeper from Honduras. They all grew up in small towns or villages in their native countries and they ALL said that when they were growing up, they (a) never used sunscreen (b) took cod liver oil (c) drank raw milk straight from the cow (d) ate egg yolks and liver as their first foods (e) ate lots of organ meats like liver, heart, and tripe (f) soaked/sprouted their grains (g) ate fermented foods (h) ate lots of animal fats like lard, butter and beef tallow.

Interestingly, none of them had any cavities and none of them wore braces growing up. Straight white teeth. No allergies, no asthma, no other health challenges. And none of them had any health problems as adults either — until they moved to the U.S. and started eating our diet (and taking our drugs).

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kim August 4, 2009 at 7:32 PM

Great post… Do you know if beef tallow has Vit D? Went to the pool with my lil guy the other day and saw the moms slathering the kids up and I just said I wasn’t a fan. A mom said sarcasticaly, “Are you a fan of skin cancer?” and I just said I didn’t like the chemicals. I do have a sun suit that has arms and legs when he is swimming mid day. Has no added chemicals and so cute! Did you read Mercola about not using showering w soap after sun exposure for at least 48 hrs to keep the benefits of the Vit D? Your thoughts on these few things? Thanks!

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kim August 4, 2009 at 7:34 PM

OOPS… Lastly, how much fermented CLO do you give Kate and how much do you take? I am still confused with the fermented ml dropper thingy. : 0 )

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tina August 4, 2009 at 8:00 PM

I’ve been giving my young boys Garden of Life CLO and there’s only 200 IU vitamin D (5000IU vitamin A) per teaspoon so I’m going to order Green Pasture’s CLO.

On another post, I asked you about cow’s heart. I’m thawing one tonight and then will grind it up and re-freeze. I wanted to know if you serve your daughter raw (very rare) red-meat. I give my kids very, very rare ground buffalo and steak. I know where the buffalo and cow’s heart came from and it’s been frozen for quite some time so I’m not worried about parasites.

I couldn’t find anything about cooking cow’s heart in NT (just a recipe for kebobs) so I wanted to mix the heart with ground bison and serve super rare. Would you feed that to your daughter?

Thanks!

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Rebecca in Michigan August 5, 2009 at 5:06 AM

I clicked on the link that stated…Read my post about why fermented cod liver oil is best. That page came up, but when I clicked on the source after the 11 reasons why fermented clo is better for us, it showed 404 error. Do you have that source link?

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Rebecca in Michigan August 5, 2009 at 5:06 AM

forgot to click the box below to notify me of follow up comments.

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Vin - NaturalBias August 5, 2009 at 5:10 AM

This is such an important topic – vitamin D controls the expression of more than 2,000 genes which is about 10% of our entire genome! It’s that big of a deal! 70% of children being vitamin D deficient is a staggering number and it’s even worse among adults!

So many people avoid the sun and use sunscreen to avoid skin cancer. What they don’t realize is that vitamin D deficiency is a cancer risk in itself!

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Local Nourishment August 5, 2009 at 6:08 AM

My mom is “allergic to the sun.” She develops an anaphalactic reaction (stops breathing) when she is exposed to sunlight. This has only developed in the last five years. About four years after her first reaction (and her never leaving the house unless it was dark outside) she developed her first cancer. When she had her vitamin D levels tested, the test came back with a serious deficiency. The doctor, of course, put her on pills. I know your post will be a blessing to her, to help her find more natural ways of boosting her vitamin D! Thanks!

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Abdulgalil May 23, 2012 at 5:40 PM

Just wait till those crackers get sakmced in the face with a thousand pounds of enchilada nightmare. I don’t care how nice the ladies at the gas stations are in corn-ville or how much water it takes to keep the highway grass green; the desert, like the island in Lost, has secret mariachi terrors just waiting to be revealed.

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cheeseslave August 5, 2009 at 6:35 AM

Kim,

If it were me, I would not cover up my child’s arms and legs. Mid-day is when they need sun exposure — and they need as much of their bodies uncovered as possible.

If someone says something sarcastic about sunscreen again, you can just tell them that 70% of kids are deficient in vitamin D and sunscreen blocks vitamin D production.

I don’t read Mercola anymore. I stopped reading him after he stopped recommending cod liver oil.

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GeeNee August 5, 2009 at 6:42 AM

It’s just like everything else…. everyone has been brainwashed that the sun was bad….

If you are interested in monitoring you Vitamin D levels you may wish to take advantage of this:

Grassrootshealth Vitamin D testing trial.

http://www.grassrootshealth.net/d-action

You fill in a brief online questionnaire (less than 5 mins) and you get the chance to do a vitamin D test for only $30 (roughly £20). The full “trial” lasts 5 years (one test every 6 months), but you have the option of just signing up for one test with no obligation to continue (you’ll get a reminder email in 6 months).

(The test they use is the ZRT pin-prick test (the one Red recently took). It is normally $65 – $75.)

Cheap easy way to monitor you levels, plus you will be participating in a study! FWIW

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cheeseslave August 5, 2009 at 6:44 AM

Kim –

I forgot to add… beef tallow does have vitamin D (unlike vegetable oil) but it does not have anywhere near as much as lard.

Per 100 grams:

Lard – 2,800
Beef tallow – 19

http://www.westonaprice.org/basicnutrition/vitamindmiracle.html#food

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cheeseslave August 5, 2009 at 7:01 AM

Kim –

I agree — the milliliter thing is confusing.

On the bottle of fermented cod liver oil, it says 1 milliliter provides 3,500 IU of vitamin A. You want to give about 1.5 mil – which is about 5,200 IU of vitamin A.

1 milliliter = 0.202884136 US teaspoons (a little less than a quarter teaspoon).

So you want to give children somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 teaspoon. It’s about 1/3 of a teaspoon.

I give her about 1/2 teaspoon.

My reasoning — I forget some days. I get it in 5-6 days out of 7. So the extra helps cover the days I miss.

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cheeseslave August 5, 2009 at 7:11 AM

Tina -

Acc. to the WAPF site, the ratio of A to D should be 10 to 1.

Some of the brands recommended in various articles on our website we no longer endorse because the manufacturer is removing vitamin A out of concerns of toxicity. An adequate dose of vitamin A-reduced cod liver oil may supply more unsaturated fatty acids than is considered safe. Some brands of cod liver oil contain very little vitamin D compared to vitamin A. The ration of A to D in cod liver oil should be 10 to 1 or less. (In one popular brand, the ratio of A to D is almost 100 to 1.) Vitamin A and vitamin D work synergistically and without the vitamin D, the vitamin A could be toxic.

http://www.westonaprice.org/basicnutrition/clarifications.html

They also say on that page that synthetic vitamin D is toxic. They don’t say why. But I have heard Sally Fallon say this is a reason to avoid skim milk, because they add synthetic vitamin D.

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cheeseslave August 5, 2009 at 7:16 AM

Tina -

Re: beef heart…

When Kate was a baby I gave her raw liver (frozen and then thawed) every day.

The way I serve the beef heart is to mix it in with hamburger meat. Then I either make tacos or hamburgers or sloppy joes, etc.

The hamburgers are only cooked med rare. So, yes.

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cheeseslave August 5, 2009 at 7:19 AM

Rebecca – That link was on Dave Wetzel’s Green Pastures site. He must have taken it down or changed the link. Sorry!

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cheeseslave August 5, 2009 at 7:23 AM

Gee Nee – THANK YOU for posting that. Yesterday when I was working hard to get this post up quickly, I was looking for that and couldn’t remember how to find it. So thanks!!! I’m going to post above in the content.

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Mpls Mom August 5, 2009 at 7:26 AM

WOW – what a great read – thanks for the info. I’ve been on board WAPF and NT – style eating since learning about it all this spring. But there’s always so much more to learn – the major life changes combined with mom-guilt…it seems I’m always doing something wrong!
I had some serious burns as a little kid and every doctor has talked about how I’ll for sure get skin cancer on my nose and shoulders as a result. I’ve been pretty consistent with applying sunscreen to my kids per our peds recommendations…and my nervousness about burns and cancer. Is there a link you can provide specifically about the cost/benefit of not using sunscreen? Helpful to be armed with info when having ANOTHER talk with my husband about ANOTHER change I’ll be making for our family!
-Gina

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tina August 5, 2009 at 7:38 AM

Are there any people on here from the metro Denver who want to order from Green Pastures? We could save money if we order in bulk.

Tina

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Christine Kennedy August 5, 2009 at 7:58 AM

Wondeful post Ann Marie. You are brilliant, there’s not much more to say. I am linking this post to my facebook status.

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Kristin August 5, 2009 at 8:48 AM

Hubby and I were just discussing this issue today. Thanks for the great post.

I wonder about the Krispin Sullivan quote regarding the surface area of the body and how this effected people at different times in history. Were the Puritans or even the 19th century pioneers deficient? They certainly never ran around in bathing suits. They did eat lots of lard, butter, etc. from grass fed animals.

Still, how is the absorption measured? Was there a study done?

Also, it seems I read somewhere that either Vitamin A or D actually protected the body against sun burn. Can’t recall where though. It may have only been a theory.

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Kaylin August 5, 2009 at 8:52 AM

Thanks for the post, Ann Marie. I never put sunscreen on my kids or myself. I don’t trust it. The boys (8 and 4) have never needed it. They just tan, even though they look like fair-skinned blondes. I’m really careful with my daughter though. She’s an 18-month-old red-head. She got slightly burned early this spring when the sun didn’t even seem strong and it was pretty cool outside (we live in the midwest) so I always send her out with a hat on. (Interestingly, when I was looking for sun hats in a department store the older ladies helping me said they never see them in their store, which seemed odd to them because they always sent their kids out with hats. Young moms, take note!). I would like my daughter to get more sun, but since she is unlikely to tan, I don’t let her be outside in the middle of the day for very long. You’ve mentioned keeping arms and legs covered, but will she still get plenty of vitamin D if her skin isn’t exposed? Can you shed some light on how that works? I give her (as well as the boys) fermented cod liver oil every day since she probably doesn’t get enough sun, and we live farther north.

One day she was out with her brothers for about an hour during peak sun before I realized she snuck out with them. I found her in the sand box red and hot so I was very afraid that she had already burned. I slathered her up with coconut oil right away and a couple more times later in the day and she never ended up with a sun burn. Interesting.

I also heard, as mentioned by Kim above, that you shouldn’t scrub your skin for a day or so after you get lots of sun exposure because your body is still manufacturing the vitamin D on your skin. Is that true? I usually rinse my arms and legs and use soap on places like underarms, etc. that don’t see the sun anyway. It would be nice to know though. Thanks, Ann Marie!

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cheeseslave August 5, 2009 at 9:37 AM

Gina -

I’m not an expert on skin cancer, nor am I a doctor.

Here’s what Dr. Thomas Cowan says about avoiding getting sunburned and about sunscreen:

… it is important to limit time in the sun, so that a tan can be developed gradually. The best thing is to cover the torso with a lightweight, light colored tee-shirt while at the beach and in the bright sunlight.

I do not recommend sunscreens as these have been implicated as contributing to skin cancer, but zinc oxide can be applied to the most vulnerable spots, such as the nose and shoulders.

http://www.westonaprice.org/askdoctor/treating-sunburn.html

I hadn’t read that before… I like the idea of applying a little zinc oxide on the nose and shoulders. I do cover my daughter with a hat and cover-all when she starts to burn but wants to keep playing in the pool. But it might be handy to have that zinc oxide just for those times when you can see them getting pink.

Krispin Sullivan writes:

Single, infrequent, intense, skin exposure to UV-B light not only causes sunburn but also suppresses the immune system. On the other hand, frequent low-level exposure normalizes immune function, enhancing NK-cell and T-cell production, reducing abnormal inflammatory responses typical of autoimmune disorders, and reducing occurrences of infectious disease.26;67;68-71 Thus it is important to sunbathe frequently for short periods of time, when UV-B is present, rather than spend long hours in the sun at infrequent intervals. Adequate UV-B exposure and vitamin-D production can be achieved in less time than it takes to cause any redness in the skin. It is never necessary to burn or tan to obtain sufficient vitamin D.

http://www.westonaprice.org/basicnutrition/vitamindmiracle.html

So perhaps you could get the kids outside in very little clothing (ideally, their bathing suits) for short periods of time every day during 10 am and 2 pm. You can work up to longer and longer stint.

I say this because — and this completely anecdotal — in my experience (from my extensive childhood and teenage sunbathing), after a number of days or weeks of some light burning, my burn turned into a tan and I found I could then stay in the sun all day without burning. I don’t know if that makes sense but I guess maybe my body acclimated (?). I guess what I’m trying to say is the more sun I got, the less I burned. The kids I see burn these days are the ones who never go in the sun.

Another anecdote — my in-laws found that taking cod liver oil helps them avoid sunburn. They started taking cod liver oil daily and a few months later noticed that they didn’t burn when they went on a trip to Costa Rica.

It makes me wonder if there is some connection with vitamin deficiency and sunburn… but like I said, I’m not a dermatologist.

One more — I always heard that people who spent a lot of time in the sun would get wrinkles. I heard that it’s sun that causes skin damage and wrinkles. And yet… I have almost no wrinkles and I’m 41. I have friends who were raised in sunny climes (like I was — I grew up in Texas) who are my age and have tons of wrinkles.

I also read somewhere on the WAPF site about a woman who lived in either Mexico or South America who was older and had very few wrinkles and she said she always ate lots of lard. And on the WAPF site they say, “And cod liver oil taken orally helps maintain soft skin and minimize wrinkles.” So perhaps vitamin D creates soft wrinkle-free skin? I wonder…

I just wonder if maybe it’s not the sun that gives you wrinkles after all. Considering how much I sunbathed as a child and teen — I should have a face like an old leather saddle. And yet, people always tell me I look 10-15 years younger than I am.

That said, while I didn’t used to eat as much good fats as I do now (and didn’t take cod liver oil), I have always eaten lots of butter, cheese, heavy cream, bacon, sausages, seafood, etc.

Anyway, it’s all just speculation but it’s fun to think about.

Lastly, here’s a VERY interesting article by Dr. William Douglass who writes that 90% of skin cancers won’t kill you. He writes the only kind of skin cancer that can kill you is NOT caused by the sun:

“…the major known cause of skin cancer may well be ultraviolet light. But the type of skin cancer most of these writers are referring to is not melanoma, so the claim paints an inaccurate picture. It’s important to make the distinction between melanoma and other skin cancers. Melanoma is a more serious form of skin cancer. It’s malignant, and it can spread to your internal organs, often leading to death.

But 90 percent of skin cancers are non-melanoma cancers. The most common forms are basal and squamous cell carcinomas, which are much less serious. They’re benign and are easily cured by simple outpatient surgery. These are the ones caused by solar radiation. Melanomas, on the other hand, are most likely caused by lack of sunlight and excess artificial light.”

http://westonaprice.org/moderndiseases/sunlight-melanoma.html

Amazing, huh? That one really puts my mind at ease… I think maybe I need to do a blog post on this topic. Seeing how I’ve practically written a blog post in this comment — LOL! ;-)

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cheeseslave August 5, 2009 at 9:49 AM

Kaylin -

I don’t think you want to cover your kids up — see my comment above. Let them work up to longer and longer sun exposure.

I have had that experience a few times recently where I get very red in the face and I think at first that I’m going to get a bad burn but I end up not burning at all.

Regarding what Kim said (quoting Mercola) about not washing after skin exposure… Krispin Sullivan writes:

“It takes about 24 hours for UV-B-stimulated vitamin D to show up as maximum levels of vitamin D in the blood. Cholesterol-containing body oils are critical to this absorption process. Because the body needs 30-60 minutes to absorb these vitamin-D-containing oils, it is best to delay showering or bathing for one hour after exposure. The skin oils in which vitamin D is produced can also be removed by chlorine in swimming pools.”

http://westonaprice.org/basicnutrition/vitamindmiracle.html

So she says wait an hour before showering or bathing. If your kids are swimming, that’s fine, but they should also have some time in the sun just soaking up rays — and not swim or bathe for an hour or so after.

Ha — you know that old rule about not swimming after eating — now we have to tell them no swimming after sunning. ;-)

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tina August 5, 2009 at 10:09 AM

Is zinc oxide safer for skin?

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Mpls Mom August 5, 2009 at 10:16 AM

Thanks for your thoughtful comments and the expert quotes, Ann Marie. I know you’re not a doc and I won’t hold you responsible for the decisions I end up making :)

My second son is really fair, so a hat will be in order most days. My oldest and youngest have my more olive skin so I expect they’ll be ok for hours without much coverage – of course this will cause problems with the middle one!

I like the idea of not slathering up with one more chemical product – for some reason it had never occurred to me to question this particular dr.’s order…
All that said – I did expect to get a leather face as I get older! Seeing how young you look for your age, perhaps there’s hope!

-g

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cheeseslave August 5, 2009 at 10:25 AM

Tina –

If Dr. Cowan is recommending it, I would think it would be OK. He’s usually pretty oriented toward natural products.

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Kaylin August 5, 2009 at 10:27 AM

Thanks for the info. Fortunately with my daughter’s red-headed complexion she will soak up vitamin D faster anyway so it shouldn’t take as long for her to get enough sun than a darker person, right? I’m sending the kids outside right now! :-)

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cheeseslave August 5, 2009 at 10:32 AM

Hi, Kristin,

I addressed some of your questions in my comments above. However, I’ll just respond to your comments point by point…

I wonder about the Krispin Sullivan quote regarding the surface area of the body and how this effected people at different times in history. Were the Puritans or even the 19th century pioneers deficient? They certainly never ran around in bathing suits. They did eat lots of lard, butter, etc. from grass fed animals.

I’ve thought about this, too. 19th century Puritans and pioneers ate a TON of lard, butter, cream etc. If you look back at their old cookbooks (you can find them online) it’s unbelievable how much lard and grass-fed butter and cream they ate. If the cookbooks are any indication, they also seemed to eat a lot of oysters and shellfish. And of course they were also probably taking cod liver oil, as it was very common back then.

Still, how is the absorption measured? Was there a study done?

What are you asking about here? Which study?

Also, it seems I read somewhere that either Vitamin A or D actually protected the body against sun burn. Can’t recall where though. It may have only been a theory.

I wrote about this above. I don’t have any hard proof but my in-laws have experienced this. I also seem to burn less since I’ve been getting more A & D.

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Mindy August 5, 2009 at 10:41 AM

I really appreciated this post. Thanks so much for sharing it!

You recently quoted Jordan Rubin, who wrote “The Maker’s Diet.” What do you think of his thoughts about pork? I’ve been avoiding it since I read that book – even though I know there are NT-compatible sources for pork, the thought of what pigs will eat really bothers me. I’d be very interested in your take on that!

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cheeseslave August 5, 2009 at 10:55 AM

Gina -

Again, this is just my opinion, but I would not cover up kids. Not even with a hat.

I’m VERY fair. I have blonde hair (it was lighter when I was younger) and blue eyes and fair skin. I got my coloring from my father’s side — his family is Polish. I have the exact same coloring as Meg Ryan and Martha Stewart (both Polish).

You’re in Minnesota, right?

To quote K Sullivan again:

Latitude and altitude determine the intensity of UV light. UV-B is stronger at higher altitudes. Latitudes higher than 30° (both north and south) have insufficient UV-B sunlight two to six months of the year, even at midday. Latitudes higher than 40° have insufficient sunlight to achieve optimum levels of D during six to eight months of the year. In much of the US, which is between 30° and 45° latitude, six months or more during each year have insufficient UV-B sunlight to produce optimal D levels. In far northern or southern locations, latitudes 45° and higher, even summer sun is too weak to provide optimum levels of vitamin D.

http://westonaprice.org/basicnutrition/vitamindmiracle.html

Our family moved to San Antonio, Texas when I was 7 and I spent all day — ALL summer — outdoors. The latitude for San Antonio is 29. And now I live in LA — another subtropical climate.

And yet I have no wrinkles… maybe all this vitamin D I’ve been getting from the sun (and all the bacon I eat) protected me. Who knows?

Anyway… unless you live in a subtropical or tropical climate, I don’t think you should worry too much about the sun.

Minneapolis has a latitude of 44 — so you only have a few months of the year that you can get the vitamin D from the sun. And at 44, the sun where you live is still pretty weak.

So I don’t think (again, my opinion) they need the hats. :-)

Here’s a chart listing many US and Canadian cities with their latitudes:

http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0001796.html

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cheeseslave August 5, 2009 at 10:56 AM

Oh, AND I would definitely be testing for vitamin D levels if you don’t live in a subtropical climate… and using cod liver oil of course.

I take cod liver oil now but I also do not spend much time at all outdoors.

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cheeseslave August 5, 2009 at 10:57 AM

Kaylin – where do you live? What is your latitude?

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Martha August 5, 2009 at 11:05 AM

What great info everyone. Thank you Cheeseslave and all commenters!

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cheeseslave August 5, 2009 at 11:15 AM

Hi, Mindy,

I have not yet read Jordan Rubin’s book. Not sure what he says about pork and what his reasons are.

Pork is a traditional food in many, many cultures around the world from Europe to Asia to South America. Eating pork goes back to 5000 BC.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pork#History

There are certain religions that do not allow pork consumption — Jewish, some Christians, Muslim, even Rastafarians.

Apparently the Old Testament forbids the consumption of pork, which may be why Jordan Rubin is opposed to it.

It doesn’t give a reason in the Bible why it was banned — but you can read the scriptures that ban pork from Leviticus and Deuteronomy on this page:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pork#Religious_bans_of_pork_consumption

Interestingly the date of oldest surviving recipe is from 500 BC — it’s Chinese, and it’s for suckling pig.

http://www.porkopolis.org/time/tl-cla1.php

Also, I think many people have different opinions about this issue. I know lots of Jewish people who eat pork. And there are plenty of Christians who do, too. Joel Salatin comes to mind… he’s Christian, and yet he considers pigs an essential part of his grass-based biodynamic agriculture system.

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Erica May 20, 2011 at 3:59 AM

Hi Cheeseslave,

The pork was only banned for the Jews of the Old Testament:

“After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.),” Mark 7:17-19.

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cheeseslave August 5, 2009 at 11:26 AM

Mindy –

Here’s an interesting article on Wikipedia that goes into more depth on the issues with eating pork and religion:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_restrictions_on_the_consumption_of_pork

However, there’s a lot of debate on the talk page about the accuracy of this article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Religious_restrictions_on_the_consumption_of_pork

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Kaylin August 5, 2009 at 12:05 PM

Wow, your research amazes me, Ann Marie! Thanks for the lat/long chart. We are inbetween DesMoines and Chicago, Latitude 41. We only have about 3 months of really hot weather (June-August). The rest of the year is mild or downright cold. In the winter we go out very little, just for a little fresh air and playing in the snow. I was very interested to learn that the body can store up vitamin D during the summer to last all winter. We still take the CLO to fill in the gaps because I know we still don’t spend enough time outdoors. It’s hard to go out during the few hot, sunny months that we do have because it’s so humid. My husband and I lived in LA for a few years during and after college and we really miss that dry heat (among other things that we love about LA!). I will definitely be making more of an effort to get outside, even thought I hate it when it’s hot and sticky!

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carla | green and chic August 5, 2009 at 12:08 PM

I recently had my vitamin D levels tested and they are on the low side. “They” think there is a link between low vitamin D and MS so I recently started supplementing though I do take HV CLO.

I always avoid the sun and use SPF 30+ because I burn easily (dont let the brown skin fool you) and now with MS, I dont do well in heat at all so I avoid as much as possible.

Not sure what else to do!

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cheeseslave August 5, 2009 at 12:14 PM

I think the point is we don’t need to worry so much about getting sun but we do need to make sure we are getting enough vitamin D.

We should all get tested — and get our family members teted.

And for those of us living in subtropical climates and spending a lot of time outdoors, we should be careful about how much vitamin D we are taking (or supplementing with).

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cheeseslave August 5, 2009 at 12:17 PM

Carla –

I have read that about MS and vitamin D.

Based on what others have written above and what I have noticed, maybe part of the reason you burn so easily is your low vitamin D status… just an idea…

Also, what kind of vitamin D are you supplementing with? You should be able to get all you need from high-vitamin CLO. You can also use lard to cook and bake with — and eat more bacon. Just some ideas!

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carla | green and chic August 5, 2009 at 12:21 PM

Ann Marie – I do the CLO but it really hasn’t made a dent in my V-D levels. Maybe its my absorption. I cant really do the lard at home because my S/O doesn’t do well with pork for high fat. Butter (and that’s dicey for him) and coconut oil is OK.

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Mindy August 5, 2009 at 12:22 PM

Thank you for sharing those links! I’m sorry, I just assumed you had read the book. I don’t have it handy at the moment, but if I recall correctly, Rubin’s reasoning is that pigs will eat anything – absolutely anything, from the most horrible thing you can imagine – and that, unlike cows, they don’t have a four-stomach system to filter out the bad stuff. He had quite a bit of research to back up what he was saying.

It’s the same principle for why he recommends against shrimp, crab, etc. (in line with Old Testament restrictions, although I believe you’re right that the Bible never explains the ban on those foods): they’re bottom-feeders. The garbage disposals of the ocean, if you will. Rubin is a Messianic Jew who believes that the restrictions of the OT had valid enough reasons (which he believes is proven by modern research) that for health’s sake they should be maintained today.

My “food revolution” began with “The Maker’s Diet” and led to NT, so I was interested to note that Sally Fallon had no beefs with pork. I’ve been avoiding it for the past year – but I also really miss sausage! ;) So I’m very interested in hearing other people’s take on this…

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Erica May 20, 2011 at 4:53 AM

Hi Mindy,

We are able to eat whatever crawls or flys on this earth, including bugs (yuck!).

The pork was only banned for the Jews of the Old Testament:

“After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn’t go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.),” Mark 7:17-19.

Keep in mind, we are not held captive by the law anymore. In fact, Jesus worked on the Sabbath in the New Testament: “And a man was there whose hand was withered. And they questioned Jesus, asking, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”–so that they might accuse Him. And He said to them, “What man is there among you who has a sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will he not take hold of it and lift it out? “How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep! So then, it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand!” He stretched it out, and it was restored to normal, like the other,” Matthew 12:10-13.

Does this mean that He rejected the law? No. He did not come to abolish it, but to fulfill it. Jesus came to set us all free! We are only saved by grace when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We must come to truly KNOW Him personally.

The Lord cares more about us becoming true disciples for His kingdom and saving the lost than about what food is put into our mouths. What are you going to do if there is only pork to eat? The Lord made pigs for a reason, and it certainly wasn’t to make the earth look pretty.

Here are a few videos regarding the law:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_hzTxJYK-o

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyEA9_TQBW8

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Emily August 5, 2009 at 12:29 PM

I just found your website and I love it! I have found lots of good information and have started my whole family on Cod Liver Oil.
I would like to recomend What the Bible Says About Healthy Living by Dr. Rex Russell to you. He did research on why God would forbid the Jews from eating pork. He found scientific evidence for why it is not good to eat pork. It was very interesting and I have cut out all pork and other scavengers from our diet based on this.

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Roberto May 23, 2012 at 5:37 PM

he/she is right! i think the best ones for skin are evening poisrrme , and star flower oil.fish oils are good for the heart and lowering cholesterol (omega 3)

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cheeseslave August 5, 2009 at 12:43 PM

Carla –

Yes we have talked about this before. Definitely your absorption would be my guess! Are you doing GAPS? Taking a strong probiotic? Bone broth, all that jazz? That is what I would do if it were me.

Doesn’t matter how much good stuff we eat if we are not absorbing it.

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cheeseslave August 5, 2009 at 12:51 PM

Mindy & Emily -

Thanks so much for your comments. I just ordered both books from Amazon (I got them instantly wirelessly delivered to my iPhone — woo hoo!). I’ll read them as soon as I finish “The Whole Soy Story” by Kaayla Daniel, which I am almost done reading.

Although I am not a member of any organized religion, I’m very curious about this topic and look forward to reading what these authors say.

I also really doubt they will convince me to stop eating pork. Or shrimp for that matter.

But I’ll read them and see! :-)

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tina August 5, 2009 at 12:56 PM

Mindy – I have Jewish friends and they say the same thing. They will not any bottom feeders – no pork no shrimp etc. I love pork and will get a pig in December. So I guess pork will be my doritos (junk food) cause I ain’t given it up…

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diane August 6, 2009 at 6:21 AM

Hmmm…just found this interesting note – those who consume raw meats as a partr of their diet do not burn in the sun either. Other raw foods are useful too – once you can really digewts them, but apparently raw meat traditionally prepped in dishes like beef tartare, a Korean dish of marinated liver that I cannot pronounce, and also carpaccio…and so on and so on…..and the raw marinated meats or properly prepared meats are easier to digest than other kinds of raw foods. Wild. So – do you eat any raw meat dishes, AM, and do have those sorts of revipes to share – that you have actually tried and tested? We have oncorporated fermented…but not raw, not yet….Diane

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diane August 6, 2009 at 6:23 AM

I am going to go back and look through that week of menus blog that my Korean, in San Fran, friend sent me as pork, lard, and fermetned foods like KimChee are BIG in that cuisine…if she isn;t using lard bc she thinks it is unsafe, I will have to send her over to THIS site, so she can bring the trad lard back in…she will love this site. Diane

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Alyss August 6, 2009 at 11:16 AM

What a great post and thread! I don’t usually wear sunscreen at all and try to get out as much as possible, but am happy to put on good quality sunscreen during extraordinary exposure. Last weekend I went camping in the mountains and spend two full days at a beach lounging and swimming. I sunscreened up my shoulders, chest and arms but still got a bit sunburned both days. The way I see it, sun is good, brown is good, red is bad.

Avoiding red is the tricky part. I think in a perfect world we would spend all spring and summer outside so we could develop our tans gradually. Since I don’t live in a world that allows that I have to take some other measures. Sometimes that means covering up, sometimes it means sitting in the shade and sometimes it means a little good quality sunscreen.

I would like to ask all of you what you do for after sun skin care? I bought some aloe and have a “lotion” I made of coconut oil and jojoba oil. I know you aren’t supposed to put grease on a burn because the heat needs to escape, does that apply to coconut oil and sunburns too? I used aloe and cold water alone until the heat subsided on my redder parts and then used some coconut oil. My skin looked a lot smoother and less dryer after the coconut oil, but I was afraid to put it on too soon. What about coconut oil and zits? The sweaty hot weather has me breaking out a little and I’m worried about putting coconut oil on my face even though it needs some moisturizer.

Thanks all!

Alyss

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carla | green and chic August 6, 2009 at 11:40 AM

@Ann Marie – I am pretty much grain, starch and sugars (all of them except berries) free along with soy, gluten, etc. I do bone broths but not very consistent with it anymore.

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Chiot's Run August 10, 2009 at 8:14 AM

I don’t use sunscreen either, I believe it’s one of the causes of skin cancer. I have been slathered in sunscreen my whole life and still was diagnosed with early skin cancer at age 27. Now I don’t use sunscreen I wear a hat instead. I also make sure I’m eating lots of good healthy food. And I am starting to avoid fluorescent lights as well.

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tina August 13, 2009 at 6:28 AM

I emailed Garden of Life regarding Olde World Icelandic Lemon Mint Flavor CLO to see if it contained soy. I thought it did after I saw alpha tocopherol (vitamin E) in the ingredient list on my bottle. I only learned in the last week that vitamin E supplements can be made from soy. I got a response from Garden of Life and sure enough it does contain soy oil.

Here’s the response:
Tina,
Thank you for your email and interest in Garden of Life’s products. The
alpha tocopherol used in our Olde World Icelandic Cod Liver Oil is
sourced from soy oil. The soy is in an oil form and therefore the
protein would not be left to cause an allergy.

In my email I simply asked if this particular CLO was 100% soy free – I never mentioned an allergy.

If you’re trying to avoid soy then this product may not be for you.

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Homemade Colon Cleanse August 13, 2009 at 1:54 PM

There are probably so many who are vitamin D deprived because the kids just stay in doors all day and play video games. Outdoor activities just aren’t as prevalent as they used to be. I try to get my sunshine as much as possible but then we are threatened with skin cancer. Can’t win either way I’m afraid.

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tina August 13, 2009 at 5:26 PM

Green Pastures is having a sale on their Cod Liver Oil. It’s only till tomorrow (8.14) but it’s a super good deal if you use:

Mediterranean FCLO. Normally $44.00, Sale price $29.00 (no limit)

Fruit Attack FCLO. Normally $44.00, Sales price $29.00 (no limit)

Chocolate Cream Blue Ice Royal FCLO/BO blend Normally $49.00, sale price $34.00 (no limit)

I just found out about it or I would have posted earlier!

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Val February 24, 2010 at 7:41 PM

I found an old LiveScience link on sunscreen I had saved that I think will be of interest. http://www.livescience.com/health/080708-bad-sunscreen.html

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LeahS July 20, 2011 at 9:57 AM

This is a tough choice for me. I do worry about sun exposure as I have an inherited risk of melanoma from my dad :(

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