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Freshmen Jazmine Bustos and Jake Kremer eat their clam chowder, burgers, nachos and bread for lunch at Brandywine Commons. For the next school year, the commons will be their main food source, a buffet heaven.
It is no easy task maintaining one’s weight, especially as a freshman. But have no fear of those extra pounds, says Natrol, a nutritional product distributor. With school back on track, Natrol has released four new nutritional supplements to combat the freshman 15 and other issues affecting college students.
These new products are 5-HTP to prevent mood swings, melatonin for sleep deprivation, Natrol High Effervescent for energy and exercise motivation and Vitamin C for general health.
‘The melatonin supplement is for people who aren’t producing it or who need help getting a better night’s sleep because of their schedule,’ a Natrol representative said. ‘It’s a safer alternative than taking prescription sleeping pills. ‘Serotonin [found in 5-HTP] helps with mood and appetite, sleep and stress. It’s a neurotransmitter, so it is not necessarily found in foods.’
The same Natrol representative, who remained anonymous, said that according to recent research, students are not getting enough sleep and exercise from school overload. This can affect one’s attitude. Natrol also believes that college students can be motivated to maintain their weight and commit to a healthy lifestyle.
‘I don’t know how consistent I would be [taking a pill],’ Bustos said. ‘If it gets to the point where I can’t fit my clothes anymore, I would start taking care of myself and start eating healthy.’
Despite research, students on campus seem to accept that for most, packing on the pounds is inevitable. As their living environment, friends, schedules, eating habits and partying routines change, so does the scale.
‘We always joke that we gained so much weight,’ said sophomore Michelle Lee. ‘But I don’t think I gained so much weight during the school year. It’s the freshmen lifestyle. We party, we are so lazy and we don’t go to the gym. It doesn’t help that my friends are lazy, too, so we don’t motivate each other.’
For freshmen Raissa Figueroa and Harmony Curtiss, gaining weight is not an issue because of the alternatives available at the commons to maintain a healthier diet. Curtiss recommends the vegetarian food, which the Commons provides every day, for every meal.
‘I am not really worried about gaining weight. There is so much walking, I don’t know how people can. And I ride my bike a lot,’ Figueroa said.
Emily Bell, nutrition programs manager for Health Education, stated that students have everything they already need in foods that could be found in these supplements. Eating right is a safer way of achieving results.
Because dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA, Bell explained that the company is the only one responsible for making sure that the pills actually have an impact on their customers. Like most products, an overdose may lead to hospitalization.
Bell recommended that these supplements be taken in order for students to lead a more balanced lifestyle in their first year in college.
First, 5-HTP is a mood booster that increases serotonin, which makes you happy. Despite the claims of the Natrol representative, Bell says that students should first contact a psychologist who can determine if a chemical imbalance is causing the constant mood swings. Also, avoid skipping meals and eat your carbohydrates. Serotonin can be found in carbs, which often improves one’s mood.
Second, Melatonin will get you a good night’s sleep. Bell recommends avoiding sleeping pills despite the claims that they are healthy supplements. ‘Try other ways to improve your sleep, such as managing your schedule. You have to wonder, as well, how much of it is placebo effect,’ she said.
Third, Natrol High Effervescent increases energy and exercise motivation. ‘It depends on the individual and what their barrier is to exercise,’ Bell said. ‘Maybe they need a workout buddy. I sit down with them and look at their schedules and carve out where that time is for exercise.’
Finally, Vitamin C improves general health and boosts your immune system. Natrol Vitamin C contains ‘esterified’ Vitamin C, which prevents stomach aches from the acid in the vitamin. Bell doesn’t believe that a vitamin can cause an upset stomach. However, if this is the case, try eating it with food and avoid eating it in excess. For example, don’t eat foods that are high in Vitamin C, such as oranges, on an empty stomach.
While pills may have the benefit of providing a healthier diet and increased energy, students will inevitably continue an unhealthy college lifestyle.
‘No matter what, if you take this pill and it gives you all this energy, I am not going to be saying ‘Yeah, I am going to the gym!’ I am going to be, like, ‘Yeah, I am going out. I am going to go party!’ I think it’s in some people’s mentality,’ Lee said.
Bell advised against choosing foods that are quick and easy. If you have concerns about solving your weight problems or maintaining a healthy lifestyle, visit the Health Education Department, which is located on the third floor of the Student Center.

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