Vitamin intake might be your key to success this school year
By Arroy (AJ) Jacob, Staff Writer & Emma Duke, Features Editor
The day begins to lag and so does your body. The exam in front of you begins to blur, and suddenly your pencil falls out of your hand and towards the floor. And soon enough, so does your head.
Hopefully that was not too graphic, and we especially hope that does not happen during any of your midterm exams this fall semester — but it is important to recognize that this has been a reality for numerous students. Many undergraduate students, including those at Mount Royal University (MRU) can safely say that they are stressed for this upcoming midterm season. Whether they are in their first year, or their seventh, every MRU student is looking for new ways to tackle this semester’s examination period. And this article might introduce a method you haven’t considered yet.
Not every student is sold on the idea of taking care of their bodily health (why else are people passing out during their exams?). However, if you twist it and instead say “improving your bodily health can help you achieve better grades,” then suddenly you’ve piqued a few ears.
Vitamins are essential micronutrients that our bodies rarely get enough of, and they can easily serve as a way to increase your energy, brain function and immune system —let alone decrease stress levels—all key elements to making sure the events of this article’s first paragraph do not happen to you.
Student life means you’re probably stressed a fair bit of the time, and you are likely aware of the negative effects stress may have on both your academic ability, and your overall mental and physical health. We all have various ways of coping with stress, but taking vitamins is one of the healthier and proven ways to mitigate high stress levels.
A study done by the Kesmas National Public Health Journal in 2020 found that vitamin D supplements are one way that students can reduce academic stress. According to the study, exposing yourself to sun rays is another way to get vitamin D, but, in Calgary, it might be more realistic to stick with the supplements. In order for vitamin D to actually be effective, you need to take a certain amount; The National Institutes of Health recommends that adults (19-70 year olds) consume 15 mcg (or 600 IU) per day.
Vitamin D is not only important for reducing stress, but it also helps increase immune function, according to The National Library of Medicine. They conducted a study which found that a deficiency in vitamin D is linked to a higher susceptibility of infection. Nobody wants to get sick, but remaining healthy becomes especially important for students in the winter time, since finals season also happens to be flu season.
Obviously there are other vitamin options, some which mitigate stress alone, and others which specifically help improve immunity, however, vitamin D is a great catch-all and cost-effective option.
Our brains need some love, too. Guess what? There’s a vitamin for that! Actually, there are lots, but let’s focus on a popular one with some serious benefits. Does vitamin B complex sound familiar? According to WebMD, vitamin B complex is a group of vitamins, consisting of B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7 and B12. Thankfully, instead of buying each of these vitamins separately, you can get the benefits of each vitamin by taking a vitamin B complex. According to the National Library of Medicine, B vitamins are proven to increase energy levels, and a deficiency in B vitamins is considered to be a factor in the development of neurological disorders—so taking these vitamins may make you more energized, as well as keep your brain healthy.
The world of vitamins is huge, overwhelming, and expensive. Less stress, more energy, a strong immune system, and optimal brain function sounds great, but it’s not so great spending a bunch of money on various vitamins every month. If you only purchase one vitamin, your best bet may be a multivitamin— but it is important to clarify that there are some varying perspectives regarding the extent to which multivitamins actually make a difference in one’s overall health.
At John Hopkins Medicine, for example, a group of researchers debunked the myth that taking multivitamins reduces the risk of cancer and heart disease —instead, they suggest alternatives like a healthier diet.
A study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in July 2023, however, found that taking multivitamins daily improves memory in older adults. As WebMD points out, the purpose of multivitamins is to close nutritional gaps, so you can ensure you are getting your necessary daily intake of various nutrients. For example, UT Southwestern Medical Center highlights that most multivitamins contain 100 per cent of your daily vitamin D intake. In order to get the best bang for your buck, the UT Southwestern Medical Center recommends purchasing a multivitamin with most ingredients at 100 percent of the daily value.
Over-the-counter vitamins and supplements might make you reconsider how you approach your health. Starting a vitamin intake early, and consistently, with just a month to go before the first round of midterm exams, may serve as your next method to getting that 4.0 GPA this fall semester.It is important however, that all students recognize that taking supplements will not guarantee them anything, as everyone’s needs vary. Speak to your family physician before making any changes to your study routine and supplement intake.