08/23/2010 07:11 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Have You Taken Your Vitamin 'N' Today?

Vitamin Nature, that is.

In his powerful book "Last Child in the Woods," Richard Louv points out that our kids are suffering from what he calls "Nature Deficit Disorder." I've come to believe that virtually everyone in our culture suffers from NDD -- and the only cure is Vitamin N.

Research being done by scientists around the world reveals that nature contact of many kinds -- outdoor walks, animal connection, gardening and even views of nature -- is amazingly powerful physical and mental medicine.

So why does Vitamin N work?

For thousands of years the human species evolved to live in direct daily contact with the rest of nature. The forests, streams and savannahs were essential to our basic survival. But in the last few centuries, people in industrial societies have moved farther and farther away from that natural source of good health, with disastrous results.

We now understand that zoo animals are miserable and unhealthy when separated from their native habitat -- why would human animals be any different?

There has been much excitement lately about the discovery that most modern people suffer a deficit in Vitamin D -- but in reality this Vitamin D deficiency is just part of the larger Vitamin N deficiency. People who spend most of their lives indoors can't possibly absorb the amount of sunlight our ancestors enjoyed.

So ask yourself: did I take my Vitamin N today? If not, please consider this ecotherapy prescription: find a way to get outdoors and reconnect with the plants, animals, soil, wind, sun, woods, water and mountains that have always sustained healthy human life.

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