If you have decided to make eating a balanced healthy diet a priority, you have taken an amazing step toward improving your health. However, it can be difficult to evaluate if you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals to achieve optimal health. There are more supplements available in supermarkets and drug stores than ever before. Do you really need them?
According to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, “Nutritional needs should be met primarily from foods. Individuals should aim to meet their nutrient needs through healthy eating patterns that include nutrient-dense foods” (1). Exceeding recommended levels of some vitamins and minerals is not only unnecessary but can also cause health issues (1).
Supplements can be beneficial in certain circumstances where an individual is lacking vitamins and minerals caused by some health conditions. For example, if someone is lactose intolerant and cannot eat dairy, a calcium supplement will likely be beneficial to help them meet their calcium needs. Your doctor can order tests to determine if taking a vitamin or mineral supplement would benefit you. Only use supplements if your doctor has recommended them (2).
If you’re concerned that your diet is not providing you with proper nutrition, consider scheduling an appointment with a registered dietitian. Schedule an appointment online through myUHS or call 814-863-0461.
1. “Vitamins Minerals and Supplements: Do You Need to Take Them.” Edited by Taylor Wolfram, Eat Right. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics., 6 July 2018, https://www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/dietary-supplements/vitamins-minerals-and-supplements-do-you-need-to-take-them
2. Vitamin Supplements: Health or Hoax? American Heart Association, 12 June 2015, http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Vitamin-Supplements-Healthy-or-Hoax_UCM_432104_Article.jsp#.W0YL7opKiUk
Most Penn State students are doing a good job of making health a priority. In a recent survey, 89% of Penn State students described their health as “good, very good, or excellent (1).” Many students meet the recommendations for physical activity (56%) and a majority report healthy habits when it comes to sexual health (80%).
Despite this good news, there’s a growing area of concern about vaping and the use of e-cigarettes. There is a significant increase in the number of Penn State students regularly using these products. In 2016, 4% of Penn State students reported vaping or using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days. In 2018, this statistic jumped to 16% of students. Students perceive their peers to be vaping much more than they actually are. Eighty-six percent of students perceive other students vape or use e-cigarettes, when it is only 16% (1).
This misperception could be contributing to the increase in vaping over the past two years. Studies show that students who overestimate how much their peers use a substance such as cigarettes or alcohol are more likely to try the substance or increase their own use (2). Social influences are strong determinants of health behavior as well as marketing and low perception of risk.
Unfortunately, the use of e-cigarettes, especially high-nicotine versions, can lead to nicotine addiction. Researchers predict that dependence on nicotine caused by e-cigarettes may lead many young users to eventually turn to cigarettes (3).
Nicotine addiction can be hard to beat, but quitting is possible. Health Promotion and Wellness can help! Get the support you need to quit for good. Schedule an appointment at www.studentaffairs.psu.edu/healthmyUHS or call 814-863-0461. Ask for the Freedom from Smoking program. This program addresses all types of nicotine and tobacco use, including vaping and e-cigarettes.
- Penn State University’s ACHA National College Health Assessment, Spring 2018
- Warner, K.E., Mendez, D. E-cigarettes: Comparing the possible risks of increasing smoking initiation with the potential benefits of increasing smoking cessation. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 2018, 1-7.
- Spindle, T.R., Hilder, M.M., Cooke, M.E., Eissenberg, T., Kendler, K.S., Dick, D.M. Electronic cigarette use and uptake of cigarette smkoing: A longitudinal examination of U.S. college students. Addictive Behaviors 67 (2017) 66-72
Health Promotion and Wellness is happy to offer stress reducing activities for students throughout the 2019 spring semester. All activities are held in the Wellness Suite and are free to students. No registration or experience required.
Meditation Mondays 6:00 -7:00pm in the Wellness Suite. Stop by, grab a meditation pillow and relax. Meditation pillows are provided, no experience required.
- January 14 – Learn to Meditate
- February 11 – Relaxation Meditation
- March 11 – Mindfulness and Stress Reduction Techniques
- April 15 – Calming the Mind with Meditation
Wellness Wednesdays happen each Wednesday in the suite 4:00-4:45pm. Join HealthWorks for an interactive activity about stress reduction strategies. These activities start January 9.
You won’t want to miss Thursdays this spring! Check out all the great offerings happening 5:15-6:15pm in the Wellness Suite:
- January 10 Meditation and guided vision board*
- January 24 Yoga
- February 7 Self-care Box*
- February 21 Knitting* and Overnight Oats
- March 14 Stamp making*
- March 28 Yoga
- April 11 Art Journaling*
- April 25 Pilates
*Part of the Mindful Making Series in collaboration with Student Engagement Programs.
The Wellness Suite is located in 20 IM Building and is open M-F 8am-5pm in addition to the activities listed above.
Many students give up sleep to meet the demands of a busy schedule. The overall effect negatively impacts productivity. Do you have trouble falling asleep? Do you wake up frequently throughout the night? What stands between you and the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night? Could it be your nutrition?
Eating before bed can affect how well you sleep during the night (1). Heavy, high-fat foods may cause bloating and stomach pain that can keep you from a restful sleep. Spicy foods may cause heartburn or indigestion which can keep you up at night. However, going to sleep on an empty stomach can also cause a sleepless night. If you’re hungry, try a light snack, like a bowl of cereal with low-fat milk, about an hour before going to bed (2).
In addition to decreased energy and productivity, current research links inadequate sleep with weight gain and type 2 diabetes. Although exact causes are unclear, one theory for weight gain is that inadequate sleep disrupts hormone levels that regulate appetite and food intake (3). This means that a lack of sleep may cause you to eat.
Are you interested in learning more about sleep or nutrition? Health Promotion and Wellness offers free one-on-one wellness services to students. Topics include stress and time management, sleep, physical activity, nutrition, healthy relationships and sexual health. HealthWorks peer educators provide the services. These services are FREE and are in the Wellness Suite, 020 IM Building. To schedule an appointment, call 814-863-0461.
You can use muscles in the classroom with “Deskercises.”
Following are a few examples. Perform these three exercises twice, holding for 10 seconds each:
- Ab squeeze
- Leg lifts
- Shoulder shrugs
Physical activity breaks are associated with improved attention, improved concentration and improved academic behavior.
It’s important to take care of yourself. This semester make your well-being a priority and treat yourself to a day of relaxation and healthy activities! Spaces are filling up for the next Wellness Retreat. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 814.863.0461 to reserve your spot for the October 20th retreat. To learn more about free wellness activities, visit http://sites.psu.edu/healthypennstate/fall-2018-wellness-activities/
Mark Agrusti of the Dharma Lions at Penn State, will lead four meditation sessions to help students learn stress management strategies. The sessions are independent of each other and students are not required to attend all four sessions. Sessions will be held from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. in the Wellness Suite, 20 Intramural Building. Dates and topics include:
- Tuesday, Sept. 11 – Mindfulness and Stress Reduction Techniques
- Thursday, Oct. 8 – Learn to Meditate
- Tuesday, Nov. 6 – Calming the Mind with Meditation
- Tuesday, Dec. 4 – Relaxation Meditation
Join HealthWorks Peer Educators and Healthy Penn State Ambassadors every Wednesday during the fall semester for wellness activities. Every week this 45-minute session will feature an activity that is designed to help you reduce stress. Here are some examples of what we’ll be doing:
- Learn to destress with a body scan and belly breathing
- Create a mind jar and unplug from your phone and social media
- Go on a guided nature walk with meditation and cloud gazing
All Wellness Wednesday Wednesdays are located in the Wellness Suite (20 IM Building) from 4:00-4:45pm. We hope to see you there!