Ask Your Pharmacist

January 17, 2019

This year I want to lose weight and feel better. Are there any vitamins or natural products I can take to help me lose weight? What are the best things I can do for my health?


A new year is seen by many as a chance to make a change, a new start of kinds. There are endless changes a person can decide to make in his/her life, but making healthy lifestyle changes can make you feel better today and have long-lasting benefits as well. I’m happy to share some lifestyle changes that most people can make to feel better mentally and physically and to help maintain a healthy future. 

If you smoke, quit or cut back

As we know, smoking leads to heart and breathing conditions that can shorten lifespan and reduce your quality of life. Many options and tools are available to help you quit, including medications (Champix), nicotine replacement therapy (Nicoderm patches, or Nicorette gum) and resources like “Smokers Help Line”. If you are considering quitting smoking, check out or talk to your pharmacist about your options. If you’re not ready to quit, cutting back on how much you smoke can help you and at very least, save you some cash.

Eat a healthy balanced diet

A proper diet is needed to ensure our minds and body function correctly and help maintain a healthy body weight. Besides preventing and managing conditions like high blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes, a proper diet helps keep your bowel regular. An aggressive diet plan is not needed, as the best diet is the one you can stick with. Lots of diet information is available, and some of it can be misleading or confusing. Registered dieticians are a trusted resource for diet information. A dietician can identify your individual dietary needs and help develop a diet that works for you and can help you reach your goals. The food you eat will fuel your body and mind and can help you feel better physically and mentally.


Of all the health-related changes you can make in your life, getting regular exercising may be the most beneficial. It’s been shown that exercising regularly can help prevent a variety of medical problems including diabetes and high blood pressure. People who exercise tend to live longer too. Exercise helps maintain strong bones and prevent fractures in post-menopausal women, reduces your risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s and helps reduce symptoms of heart disease. Exercise also improves your overall quality of life by reducing anxiety, depression and fatigue. Exercising can vary from high-intensity work-outs to walking, but what we know is that doing something is a lot better for you than doing nothing. Many studies have shown that 30 minutes of exercise each day is all it takes. If you have a disability or don’t know where to start, speak with your family doctor, a physiotherapist or personal trainer to find exercises that can work for you.

You don’t have to make all these changes overnight and taking the first step can be challenging, but your future self will thank you. If you’re concerned about vitamins, check with your doctor as routine bloodwork can identify vitamin deficiencies. Pharmacists are knowledgeable and accessible healthcare providers, so feel free to ask them health questions. They can give advice or refer you to another healthcare professional for your individual needs.

Jared Mactavish (BSc., Pharm) is a pharmacist in Saint John. His opinions expressed in this newspaper are published for educational and informational purposes only, and are not intended as a diagnosis, treatment or as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Send your questions to