Family Health Healthy Living

3 vitamins crucial to your health (and why you need them everyday!)

Written by Patsy Davis

Can you guess what the three most underrated vitamins are?

Here are a few hints:

  • They are all around you.
  • They are free of cost.
  • They are accessible at any time of day.

I’m talking about nature, fresh air and sunshine!

But those aren’t vitamins, right? Let’s look at vitamins from a new perspective, and, in doing so, we’ll begin to realize how crucial nature, fresh air and sunshine are to a healthy and vibrant lifestyle.

We are conditioned to think that vitamins must be manufactured and labeled in a lab and purchased in a store. On the contrary! If we open our eyes and look around, we will see that vitamins are everywhere. Nature alone is a world of multivitamins, and it is often the last thing we turn to for our nutrient fix, simply because we are not conditioned to think of nature in this way.

So what are the three most underrated, yet most potent vitamins?

  1. Vitamin N = nature
  2. Vitamin FA = fresh air
  3. Vitamin S = sunshine

Why you need vitamins N, FA and S

Unfortunately, the average American spends more time stuck in a stale office and dark living room, instead of exploring the great outdoors. Our youth spend 7 more hours on academics and 2 fewer hours on sports and outdoor activities per week than they did 20 years ago. Unfortunately, all this indoor living is devastating to our health.

Research shows that children who get more vitamin N, FA and S have lower stress levels, greater success in school and fewer ADHD symptoms. Evidence clearly demonstrates that adults who exercise and socialize more in natural, fresh-air settings are happier and more balanced.

We all know that simply being in sunlight triggers our skin to make vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin.” Research has linked low vitamin D levels with depression, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, osteoporosis and even cancer. To ensure you have enough vitamin D, try to get at least 15-20 minutes outside each day. Experience nature (vitamin N), fresh air (vitamin FA) and sunshine (vitamin S), which are super potent forms of food for our bodies!

How can you get more vitamin N, FA and S?

  • Make outdoor play mandatory. Splash in puddles, throw snowballs, pack a picnic or catch fireflies.
  • Avoid the typical 3 p.m. slump. Take a 10-15 minute walk outside, and drink in fresh air instead of caffeine.
  • Try gardening! Getting your hands in the dirt is actually good for you. There’s a strain of bacterium in soil – mycobacterium vaccae – that has been found to trigger the release of serotonin, which in turn elevates mood and decreases anxiety. Just breathing in while digging in can lift your mood. No wonder kids already know that digging in the dirt makes them happy!
  • Move your kitchen outside. Fire up the grill and make fun creations such as fruit kebabs, or if you have kids, let them personalize meats by brushing on sauces before cooking.
  • Sleep under the stars. Even if camping without a bathroom isn’t for you, you can pitch a tent or put up a hammock in your backyard!

Living in the south during the summer months can pose a challenge with the high temperatures and humidity. When you venture outdoors this summer, it is important to make sure your body gets the water it needs to stay hydrated. Water is the fluid that lubricates our systems and keeps us healthy and vibrant, and, when we sweat, it is important to replace that lost water.

Think of a riverbed in a drought. Where there is no water, the bed dries up and cracks.

Compare your body to that riverbed, and imagine what you are doing to it by not staying hydrated with enough water. Before you head outside this summer, drink at least 8 ounces of water.

Starting today, try adding vitamin N, vitamin FA and vitamin S to your diet. Wash it all down with some cool, refreshing water and notice what a difference it will make. A more vibrant and happy you wants to go outside and play!

About the author

Patsy Davis

Patsy Davis is the associate director of campus recreation at Augusta University and a certified health coach. She serves as the principal point of contact for coordination of wellness activities for students and also as a key leader and advocate for comprehensive attention to student wellness. Patsy proudly promotes student development and learning though supervising a student staff that provides operational and administrative support for the Augusta University Jaguar Wellness Center.

Patsy strongly believes in serving as an advocate for healthy choices. Her emphasis on mindfulness-based stress reduction is a cornerstone of her programming and the basis for her supervision style. Her professional experience as a certified health coach provides opportunities to positively influence the overall wellness of students, faculty and staff.

Patsy has been employed by the university since 2008. She received her bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the College of Charleston. She enjoys practicing yoga and playing tennis. She lives in Aiken, South Carolina with her husband, Mike and their two dogs, Pearl and Hazel.