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Ask your Pharmacist: Food for thought for exams

Tuesday, 13th May, 2014 10:14am

Ask your Pharmacist: Food for thought for exams

Eamonn Brady is a pharmacist and the owner of Whelehans Pharmacy, Pearse St, Mullingar. Tel 0449334591. If you have any health questions e-mail them to

With Junior and Leaving Cert starting soon, here are some diet tips to make the most of your study days and the upcoming exams. When studying and facing into exams, energy levels are important. Oatmeal it releases energy slowly. Therefore porridge is an ideal start to your day as you are less likely to get hungry before lunch and you should not have an energy lull. Coffee stimulates the mind and makes us more productive at work and study. Limiting your coffee intake to two cups per day can be very beneficial for our energy levels. Drinking more than two cups of coffee per day is counter-productive as you end up getting withdrawal symptoms, one of which include fatigue. The same is true when you drink too much tea.


Many students experience fatigue or a dip in energy after lunch. High-protein lunches appear to produce greater alertness and more focused attention, whereas lunches that are high in fat tend to lead to greater fatigue, sleepiness and distraction. Chicken, tuna, lean beef and eggs are examples of lunch options that are high in protein and low in fat.


Staying hydrated is important to ensure all our nutrients are absorbed properly. Water also means we can release heat by sweating. Dehydration causes fatigue. In a climate like Ireland, we should aim to drink about 6 to 8 glasses of water per day (approx 1.2 litres) to stop us getting dehydrated.

B vitamins

Our body uses a variety of enzymes to break down food and convert it to energy and it needs B vitamins for this process. Example of good sources of B vitamins include bananas, lentils, potatoes, beans, brewers yeast, egg yoke and yogurt.

Fish Oils

There is evidence that omega 3 fatty acids are an effective stress buster. Studies report they can significantly improve mood. It is thought that omega 3 stimulates serotonin in the brain which can boost your mood. DHA has been shown in research to aid memory and concentration. Omega 3 fatty acids are primarily found in oily fish such as salmon, fresh tuna, mackerel, herring, sardines and pilchards. Everyone should eat two portions of fish per week, one of them oily.

Which fish oil to choose?

For people who do not eat sufficient fish oils, especially those doing exams, I recommend a fish oil supplement called MorEPA® as it contains the highest level of pure omega 3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) of any fish oil supplement on the market. PlusEPA® is a potent omega 3 supplement specifically designed to help mood disorders and many use it as a natural stress buster during exam times. Mention this article to a Whelehans staff member to get €5 off a box of MorEPA® or PlusEPA® in Whelehans.

Exercise and mental health

Mullingar Lions Club and Mental Health Ireland have come together with Eamonn Brady and Whelehan’s Pharmacy to promote this message that exercise improves personal self-confidence, is a good means of managing stress, good for general physical health and well-being, and can help develop new friendships. Look out in local press for more events coming soon, especially for young people. Check out and

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