The mere mention of “Jane Fonda” evokes a potpourri of perceptions including legendary actress, fitness guru, political activist, feminist, and author. Having recently met Jane Fonda, I noted a couple additional characterizations that surprised me: library geek and advocate of adolescent health. I also discovered that she was unfamiliar with vitamin D3’s beneficial role in teen health.
Jane Fonda loves libraries. On a recent Saturday morning in Las Vegas, she endeared herself to hundreds of enthusiastic attendees at the American Library Association Annual Conference. A featured speaker at the 2014 event, Fonda emphatically admitted, “All my life I’ve taken refuge in libraries.” Reminiscing about her teenage years in upstate New York, she divulged that when she was an adolescent in the 1950s, libraries provided her “sanctuary and solace.” At the girls’ school Fonda attended, she “always” volunteered in the library, gluing book binders!
During her talk the iconic septuagenarian (believe it or not, Fonda turns 77 in December) segued her fondness for libraries to her passionate commitment to adolescent health. Citing her mother’s death when Fonda was 12 and her famous father’s demanding career, she personally endured–with little parental guidance–the overwhelming challenges of “the gateway to adulthood,” including a paucity of “straight talk” information about the body, relationships, and identity empowerment.
Several decades later, Fonda began focusing on helping teenagers understand themselves as well as their relationships, sexuality, and health. In the early 1990s, Fonda founded the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential. In 2001, she established the Jane Fonda Center for Adolescent Reproductive Heath at the Emory University School of Medicine.
Fonda’s insights from working with adolescents culminated in her new paperback book called Being a Teen: Everything Teen Girls & Boys Should Know About Relationships, Sex, Love, Health, Identity & More. Accentuating the challenges of transitioning from childhood to adult life, Fonda encouraged parents to “keep talking” because teens eventually “do listen.”
After speaking for about 30 minutes, Fonda graciously opened the floor to questions from the audience. I admired her patience and willingness to listen to anyone who was brave enough to stand in that capacious auditorium, with only a microphone between one’s self and Jane Fonda.
My intellectual curiosity as well as passion for vitamin D3’s health benefits inspired me to stand in line behind the center microphone. When it was my turn, I introduced myself and briefly described the importance of adequate vitamin D3 in biological parents prior to conception and in a child’s early years. I asked Fonda’s thoughts about the role of vitamin D3 in adolescent health. She replied that she “takes vitamin D” but did not know about D3. And she did not know about vitamin D3 and teen health. But she readily indicated the willingness to be enlightened about vitamin D3. So I stated that I would give her a copy of my vitamin D3 book called Defend Your Life.
Upon Fonda’s closing remarks and her audience’s thunderous applause, I quickly walked up to the stage and handed her a signed copy of Defend Your Life. As if on cue, Fonda acknowledged my gesture with a nod, turned around, and headed backstage with Defend Her Life in her hand. An indelible image etched in my mind.
Later I stood in a long line to have Fonda sign HER book, engage in a photo op, and chat a bit more about vitamin D3. Her intrigue about this particular nutrient was palpable, so I am confident she followed up on vitamin D3. I also hope she reads at least part of Defend Your Life. I may never know. But what I do know is that vitamin D3 is essential to adolescent health, just as it is for human health from conception to all stages of life.
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