Guest Post by Dr. Raina Vachhani
What’s all the fuss about vitamin D?
The short answer is that our bodies are built to make vitamin D using sunlight, and for us folks living up north, that isn’t really happening during the winter.
Vitamin D is a nutrient that our bodies use to help us absorb the calcium we eat, which we need to help make strong bones. Without vitamin D, calcium levels can drop, causing long-term effects on the strength of bones. The teens and twenties are the most critical time to build strong, healthy bones in order to avoid having weak bones and a risk of bone fractures later in life.
There is a lot of exciting research going on to figure out what other roles vitamin D might play. Some scientists think that low vitamin D levels could be related to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, inflammation, infections, and neurological diseases, though most of these links haven’t been proven yet. The reality is that most people have no symptoms to indicate to them (or their doctors) that their level of vitamin D is low. Read full post »
Guest Post: Dr. Laura Burkhart
How old should my daughter be before she starts shaving? It’s a question that many parents have, but hard to find answers too.
This can be a tough decision to make, but its good to have an open and honest conversation with your daughter. There really isn’t a specific age at which girls should start shaving. It is a personal decision dependent on your family’s cultural and personal beliefs. In our American society, girls can start going through puberty as young as 8 or 9. The normal increase in hormones causes the hair underarms and in the pubic region to grow longer and darker which can often lead to feeling self-conscious around peers. Read full post »
When our kids are little, we take them to their well child exams in order to ensure they remain healthy. This preventive visit reassures us that they are growing well, meeting development milestones, and offers the opportunity to have our (and our child’s) questions about health answered. As kids enter the teen years, these visits occur less and less often. A friend recently asked my opinion as a pediatrician and adolescent specialist about when teens are too old to go see the pediatrician? This excellent question prompted me to post about the topic. Read full post »
We’re all busy… we work, we parent, we try to have a bit of time for self-care. Teens are busy too! Most get up early, go to school, then come home, work on homework and get ready for bed just to start the day again. Over the past few months, I’ve heard multiple times about the importance of a few key hours in a teen’s day: the hours of 3pm-6pm. What is so different about this small part of the day? Read full post »
I was reminiscing about my first job recently. Though my parents had provided an allowance for completing certain chores, the first time I worked outside of the home and received pay from a non-relative was at the age of 12. Our neighbors had young children and needed a night out every once in awhile. As the responsible oldest sibling (out of 4) they felt safe enough to allow me to put their kids to bed and go dinner. My reward for playing with kids and putting them to bed was $10. I was then hooked on earning money! Read full post »
For many of my friends and colleagues the holiday season from the months of November through January is their favorite time of year. We have family gatherings, time off of work to spend with our kids, great meals, and exchanging of gifts. However, I just drove into a parking lot of a large home improvement store and saw numerous people waiting for the opportunity to do work. Others who had holes in their jackets and looked like they hadn’t eaten in days, and some who simply held signs asking for any help a person could spare. Seeing all of these people was a blunt reminder that not everyone has all of their basic human needs met. I drive by this store routinely, but I’ve become desensitized to the people in the parking lot. It made me ask, “Where has my compassion gone?” Read full post »
Guest Post by Laura Burkhart, MD
“Safety doesn’t happen by accident”
When talking with your teen about making the transition to college, we often focus on the positive, as it is definitely an amazing life changing event. You want your teen to successfully adapt in making more responsible choices, while remaining safe and protected inside the walls of a college campus. However, there is a very important topic that often gets missed in that crucial time before they start classes. That is the subject of campus crimes and security. I am not writing this to send you running to lock your teen in their room, ensuring their safety by never letting them out and feeding them through the door! This post is meant to open the dialogue between you and your teen about personal safety.
College campuses were once thought of as “Ivory Towers”, protected from the dangerous individuals and violent acts of the rest of the world. It is the hope that every student has an affirmative college experience, but we know from numerous stories and statistics that is not always the case. So how can you find out about the safety of the college campuses your teen is looking at? Its actually easier then you think, but that was not always the case. It is important to respect the history and personal tragedy that allows us to access this information so readily today. Read full post »
Think about the encounters you have with strangers every day. When you stop by the grocery store and notice people in the check out line, what comes to mind? Does the young parent with multiple very small children bring up any emotions or thoughts? What do you think of the food items being purchased by the person who is underweight or overweight? How do you react when a group of teens with darkly dyed hair, piercings, and tattoos is standing in the doorway? Now consider a group of clean-cut teens? Everyone has biases: those subconscious perceptions of people around us. They shape our actions and judgements. But, biases are often incorrect. They are generalizations about a group based on our cultural norms or expectations, but may have no actual basis in reality. For example, the parent with multiple young children in the check out line may be a nanny not a single parent. The clean-cut teens in the doorway may be waiting for a peer who is stealing alcohol while the pierced and tattooed teens are trying to advocate for ending childhood hunger. Read full post »
Guest Post by Laura Burkhart, MD
“You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
In the part of this series, I will go into a little further into the details of visiting a campus and what you need to have ready from a health standpoint. If you and your teen are still finding yourself stuck on where to even start looking to apply, you can refer back to the previous post.
Now that you and your teen have decided on what campuses to visit (great job by the way, that can be the toughest part!), it is time to discuss what is often the most exciting part for your teen…the tour. A campus tour is a great way to become familiar with the institution, not only for the physical elements, but also for the health resources offered. It is important for your teen to have a support system on campus of caring professionals that can offer assistance if needed. Read full post »
African American teen plays an acoustic guitar.
I was a musician from junior high through college. My athletic abilities left much to be desired, but as a 4th grader, an astute music teacher assigned me to the cello. This instrument became the fuel that drove me to push past my shyness, embrace being on stage, and forge friendships that I still have to this day. Learning to read music was a similar experience to learning a second language: frustrating at times, challenging, but so rewarding when I was able to put it into practice and result in something that was easily understandable to another human being. Read full post »