Wellbeing and Supplements in Sixth Year

There is a huge focus on health and wellbeing in social media at the moment. Much of it is marketing supplements. We have teamed up with Tomas Conefrey, the Superintendant Pharmacist at Conefrey's Pharmacy right outside Trinity College to discuss wellbeing and supplements. 

Please note that this does not constitute or replace medical advice. This is not a sponsored post.

Walking in to any pharmacy or health store, it seems that you can enhance just about any bodily function. How do you know if you should be taking a supplement? 

Tomas: Ideally you shouldn’t need to take any supplements as you would get all the vitamins and minerals you need from your diet. In this context when you are studying, a full day in school/college can tire you out quite easily especially if you are very busy. Then once you go home it’s time for homework/coursework. At busy times of year there isn’t much time to do anything else e.g. coming up to exams. Unless you are a superhero, this will grind down the best of us. Also things start to slip a bit such as healthy eating habits - and it’s easy to reach for quick fixes like convenience foods, which are not ideal for your nutrition needs at any time really. 

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With so many supplements and potions, multiplied by the number of brands, shopping for vitamins and minerals is an overwhelming experience. We found that some things work really well including B­-complex vitamins and Omega­-3 fatty acids. If you were to choose just three proven supplements that you would put your name to, what would they be? 

1. B-­complex ­ 
This is great for energy. Sona are a great brand name to look for here. 

2. Pharmanord D­-Pearls
Vitamin D to help maintain a healthy immune system 

3. Co­enzyme Q10 ­ 
Again, for energy. ­Pharmanord are a great brand here. 

The “Leaving Cert stone” is a thing. It probably shouldn’t be! As a pharmacist, could you give some advice about avoiding unhealthy weight gain? 

Tomas: Watch your diet as much as you can. Everything in moderation, it sound a bit twee, but if you overdo anything, it’s not good for you. Exercise also, not just to keep an eye on weight but also I’ve found it’s great to clear the head. 

Martina: Completely agreed. It's easy for your eating habits to deteriorate due to lack of time to prepare proper food - we all know how much easier it is to reach for the chocolate bar. It is essential to try to eat clean: focus on veggies and nutritious foods from all groups while keeping junk at bay. Exercise helps release natural signalling molecules that make you resilient, which so important during sixth year.

Being tired all the time is a common complaint among Leaving Cert students. Could you give some advice? 

Tomas: Get proper sleep. Rest when you can, do something, anything to relax. A change is as good as a rest. Based on my experience, have a wind ­down before going to bed after studying. Do something different before you retire for 30 to 60 minutes.

Martina: I would just like to add that getting to bed at a reasonable hour may require a conscious effort. It is best to decide a time when you wind down and try to stick to that. Otherwise, it is very easy to stay up pottering around or on your phone. I am an avid green tea drinker and would vouch for its benefits. However, I would suggest avoiding caffeine after 2 pm as it may interfere with the quality of your sleep. If you seem to get one cold after another, I found small doses of decent quality honey to be an excellent cold-deterrent!

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Maintaining concentration is a must when studying for exams. Can you think of any ways to help with focus? 

Tomas: My own experience here involves thinking on paper so I write everything down before I do it. Also I use my Google calendar to record all my important dates and appointments. I also use an app call ‘Tick Tick’ for making lists. It’s very handy to e­mail them once complete so I can print them. I can cross off each item as it’s done then.

Martina: I write everything down too. Relaxation techniques are great for improving focus. I would also suggest taking 20 minute bursts of intense work with no phone or other distractions. After that you can chill for a little while and be distracted, guiltlessly. Rinse and repeat.

Acne… It may not leave scars on a teen’s skin, but there is a risk it could leave some emotional scars! Most are initially reluctant to talk about acne to their doctor. What are some proven over­ the ­counter solutions that can serve as a starting point? 

Tomas: One product springs to mind called Acnecide gel. It contains Benzoyl Peroxide which is effective but dries the skin out. We stock a range called Uriage and it has a sub­range which is very good for acne. 

The fitness cult has incredible momentum right now. There are a lot of protein­ shakes floating around, especially with the boys. Same goes for creatine and other performance enhancing substances. Could you give any advice on how to make stay safe while taking these for training? 

Tomas: I don’t know much about this area except to steer clear of creatine. 

Martina: This area is so opaque. I would be very careful before using anything of this sort. Protein powders have been known to damage kidneys and cause abnormal heart rhythms among other things, so this has to be approached responsibly.

The supplements industry involves much advertising. Does any supplement come to mind that seems to overinflate its usefulness? 

Tomas: Yes, a lot of them actually. I think if you get a good quality supplement like e.g. a Solgar multivitamin that should be all you need. I think we all get caught up spending money buying different individual ones when we just need a good quality multivitamin.

This interview was taken by Martina

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