Are you getting your Vitamin N?

Plants!  Yes you should eat them, but did you know they are good for you in other ways?

This post about Vitamin ‘N’ (nature!) has been lingering on my blog for at least seven years. I keep coming back to it to revise, check the links work and update the pic. This is the 2024 version, with a pic from the start of the Abel Tasman Coast track. You can read more about that hike here.

Nature continues to be a necessary part of my health regime. It’s not just my opinion that Vitamin N is an essential nutrient either. Science agrees! For example:

1. A Swedish study showed that individuals experiencing higher levels of stress had less access to green spaces, but at the same time, showed a preference for outdoor leisure activities and green environments.

2. Physiological stress recovery as measured by skin conductance was faster in a group exposed to sounds of nature, rather than various environmental noises, after a stressful maths test.

3. People moving from a less-green to more-green urban area showed sustained improvements in mental health over time. However, the reverse was not true (moving to a less-green area did not make mental health worse in this sample).

4. Visitors to an urban park in Iran reported positive mood change after having been in a green environment and around water. They reported feeling refreshed, relaxed, calmer and more ready to cope with life’s difficulties.

5. The European Commission reported that even small green areas (say, a backyard garden) can reduce the stress of living in an ‘urban heat island’. Even a small garden may be 7 degrees (C) cooler than the surrounding non-green areas.

6. Visitors to a park and forest in Switzerland reported recovery from stress and headaches and an improved sense of being well-balanced. Results were most impressive in those that had longer visits and that combined their visits with a more intense physical activity, rather than just walking or lazing around.

7. Even having a few plants and a view from your office window can improve job satisfaction.

8. Increased green spaces in deprived areas resulted in lower stress as measured by salivary cortisol.

9. Green spaces are just good for you. So says this review, though they can’t really say why nature helps us, it just does. It’s magic.

10. The presence of nature buffers the impact of life stress in rural children.

If you’re reading this from NZ, then I hope you feel inspired to get out there and get your weekly dose of vitamin N. Parks, hikes, beaches, botanical gardens, backyard gardens, community gardens, riverside ambles, we have them all.

Failing all that, you can get online and order yourself some houseplants to fulfil your nature RDI. Of course, if you’re anything like me, that comes with a learning curve. I tried to branch out (LOL) with exotic potted plants, but they were too high maintenance and I could not. Now, I have my peace lillies, and some hardy beast called an Amate. That fellow is basically a small tree in the corner of my kitchen. I’m not quite living in the garden of Eden, but give it time, give it time… 😉




Nature Rx Youtube Channel (they’ve gone quiet on new content, but their archive is fun and funny!)

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