by Shelbey Hernandez
The Lance – News Editor
There are many things that students lack: time, energy and as a result of both of those things, healthy lifestyles.
In fact, according to Christine Wellington, the dietitian at UWindsor, it is all too common for many, many students to pay her a visit. Although the reasons vary as to why, a rather large number of students who do visit her discover they are low on just about every vitamin and nutrient, particularly iron, protein, B12, calcium, Vitamin B2 and Vitamin C, among others.
So how do students increase their vitamin levels and help take better care of their bodies? Wellington discusses how.
Step 1: Be aware – With exams, homework and class time, it can be hard to recognize problems in one’s self. Waking up a little bit more tired than usual can easily go unnoticed, especially when 8 a.m. classes are part of the regular routine. And, if one’s attention span is reduced, some may not even think twice about it. However, signs like these can indicate vitamin and mineral deficiencies so being aware of your body is incredibly important.
Step 2: See a doctor – It is all well in good to be aware but vitamins and minerals each have a wide array of ways they can affect the body. For example, someone who is low on B12 or iron may experience sluggishness but there is no telling personally which is actually being affected. That is why seeing a doctor who can run tests is necessary since they will know what are the best steps to take.
Step 3: Go natural, where possible – There are plenty of medications specifically for replenishing vitamins and minerals in the body. Walk down a specific aisle in Shopper’s Drug Mart and you can find everything from B12 to Omega 3 to Calcium and even Magnesium. However, according to Wellington, going the pill route is not always the best choice, unless of course a doctor, nurse practitioner or dietitian says otherwise.
“You can’t depend on vitamins and minerals (pills/supplements) because it’s not always really designed for the body to break down,” said Wellington. “We want food and we know the nutrients from the food are going to be absorbed way better than pills and because all these vitamins and minerals either work together or work against each other, if you’re taking all these pills you can cause more damage in your body and not even know it.”
Step 4: Remember your food groups – When going natural, it’s not just about eating fruit all day. According to Wellington, it is important to keep all the food groups in mind when planning meals: grains, dairy, vegetables/legumes, fruit and lean meats and poultry (meat and alternatives). Even if you can’t get all of them in one day, try your best.
“Every four to five hours, you need to nourish the cells. So if you only eat at 10 p.m., you are not going to do well in school. If all you have time to do is eat small, then that’s okay,” said Wellington. “You just need to think about the food groups and every time you eat, if you can have at least even two out of the four food groups, you will be supplying two different kinds of nutrients of vitamins and minerals. Ideally, a meal should have four but most of us don’t do that so if you can do two to three, you’re doing well.”
Step 5: Consider what vitamins/minerals come from which foods – Different health issues require different routes so taking this into consideration is necessary. After all, as Wellington admits, it can be impossible to include every food group into your diet on some days but, making sure to include the right ones always help. For example, fatty fish, nuts and leafy greens helps with concentration so for exam time, Wellington says this is the way to go. Wellington also uses the example of protein as a method of ensuring weight loss, saying more protein, means more likeliness to be full quicker.