Those of us who grew up in the 60s, 70s or 80s probably remember playing outside in the sun for long periods at a time. We did this on most days, without any temptation to run inside to play video games! The technology did not exist at that time or was not affordable for our parents. Many of us did all this without sunscreen. Perhaps our mothers knew, but we as children most likely did not realize that this luxury time outside was providing us with a good dose of vitamin D made in our skin from exposure to sunshine.

Times have changed. Nowadays, only 6 % of American children between the ages of 9 and 13 play outside in an unstructured manner within a week.Another report suggests that millions of American children aged 1 to 11 years old may have suboptimal vitamin D levels.2  In Canada, only 9% of 5- to 17 year-olds get at least 60 minutes of daily moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity.3  Many children prefer to play video games indoors. When they do go outside to play, every square inch of their bodies is covered by sunscreen. Not only are the kids missing out on some great fun, nature and exercise, but they are also getting much less vitamin D than we used to when we were their age.

This is a big concern because 90% of bone growth actually takes place between the ages of 10 and 20 or 30 years.4,  It is important to take advantage of that time frame to build as much bone mass as possible, because we start losing bone density in our later years. Playing outside is a great opportunity to connect with nature and facilitate the production of vitamin D in our skin. If we don`t have much bone density to start with, this could lead to even greater impact on our bone health, such as an increased risk for osteoporosis. We need to help the younger generation understand that it is critical for them to either make the time to go play outside, or to supplement with vitamin D to ensure that they take care of their bones while they are young, in order to have healthier bones when they are older.

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Natalie Bourré is a Ddrops Guest Blogger. She is a mom of 4 young children, health writer  and social media consultant who is passionate about promoting good health for the entire family. She is keen to share scientific information about about vitamin D in an easy to understand fashion. She also truly listens to people’s input and as such, she welcomes you to connect, discuss and share your questions and feedback with her on our social media accounts.  

  1. Children and Nature Network, 2008
  2. 2009 Nov;124(5):1404-10  Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels among US children aged 1 to 11 years: do children need more vitamin D? Mansbach JM1Ginde AACamargo CA Jr.
  3. 2012-13 CHMS, Statistics Canada
  4. Hightower L., Osteoporosis: pediatric disease with geriatric consequences, Orthop Nurs.2000 Sep-Oct;19(5):59-62.
  5.  NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center, Kids and Their Bones, March 2015,