“Doc, Okay Ba ‘To?” is what patients usually ask their doctors when they seek advice on medicines, vitamins, and supplements that they need or want to take. This is now also the apt title of the webinar series recently launched by Unilab’s Vitamins Group – Enervon, Conzace, and Forti-D.
The one-hour e-talks are being hosted by the King of Talk Boy Abunda, with medical experts breaking down information about the importance of vitamins and how to better boost the body’s immunity in the New Normal. These medical facts are explained in such a way that is easier for people to understand — but accurate; no fake news. This e-talk series is very timely as the country slowly eases the restrictions and transitions into the new normal.
The first episode of the webinar titled “Return to Normal” featured Dr. Joseph Adrian Buensalido, an Infectious Diseases Specialist; Dr. Maricar Esculto-Khan, an Internist-Registered Nutritionist Dietitian at the Makati Medical Center; and Dr. Naheeda Mustofa, an Internist-Nutritionist at the Asian Hospital.
The episode focused on how one can keep his immunity strong and stay healthy amid the prevalent threat of COVID 19 and other diseases. Dr. Esculto-Khan stressed that for the immune system to function well, it has to be properly nourished.
Dr. Buensalido likened the body’s immune system to soldiers that need the right weapons, proper training, and adequate support to defeat the enemy. Proper nutrition, therefore, is a must in the fight against diseases like COVID-19.
According to doctors, vitamin supplementation plays a key role in keeping our immune system strong. It was emphasized that B-Complex, Vitamins C, D, E, and Zinc all contribute to the strengthening of the immune system.
“Nandito pa rin ‘yung kalaban, nagtatago. Syempre, very selfish ‘yang virus na ‘yan, gustong makapasok sa mga katawan natin nyan. So far, ngayon, nandyan pa rin sya, pero mukhang nagwowork yung ating mga prevention and control measures, so dapat ituloy natin [The enemy is still here, hiding. Of course, the virus is very selfish, and wants to get inside our bodies. So far, it’s (COVID) still there, but it seems the prevention and control measures we are enforcing are working, so we must continue them,)” he said.
Dr. Buensalido was referring to wearing of masks; face shields, although optional, could be an added protection; hand hygiene; ventilation, especially in crowded spaces with strangers; adequate rest; proper vitamin supplementation, and vaccination.
These things will not just help combat the spread of the virus, but will also boost our immunity to protect us from other diseases, he added.
More than physical health, vitamins can also help with mental health – this is more relevant nowadays when we see more and more people struggle with mental health issues. The saying goes, “a healthy body would mean a healthy mind.” Dr. Naheeda agreed that vitamins not only help physically but also aids in keeping positive mental health. “With the proper supplementation, for those who are not able to eat well or sleep well … having a good supplementation would definitely help you sustain better mental health status, lalo na for those who are taking drinks that lower down vitamin B, make sure you have it. If you can definitely prevent it, we would love preventive medicine,” she said.
In closing, Dr. Buensalido also warned people about believing everything they read online. He encouraged the public to check and double-check the information and to believe only reputable sources. It is very much notable that these e-talks will feature renowned experts in their chosen fields, which is of high value, especially in this time when false information is prevalent.
The second episode, titled “Vitamin D: The Vitamin of the Decade”, also featured Buensalido and Mustofa, and ably backed up Dr. Monica Therese Cating-Cabral, head of Osteoporosis and Bone Health Clinic at the Center of Diabetes, Thyroid, and Endocrine Disorders of St. Luke’s Medical Center Global City.
This episode focused on Vitamin D and its importance in the general health and immune system of one’s body.
Most people have limited knowledge about Vitamin D. For most people, they only know Vitamin D as a vitamin acquired from sun exposure and its benefit to the bones, when in fact, Vitamin D helps strengthen immunity and prevent chronic diseases by keeping 36 vital organs healthy.
Dr. Buensalido described Vitamin D as an “all-around assistant, helper, and coordinator” of the body. “[Vitamin D] is not the primary worker or the very reason for the benefits. But it is always involved. It always assists the main worker. So it is an assistant, and it is a great assistant,” he said.
“There are observations that people with good Vitamin D levels tend to have a longer life. Some studies suggest that it may lessen the risk of heart attack, colon cancer, asthma, eczema, and many other [diseases]. It may also decrease the risk of respiratory infections, infections that pass through the airways, which include tuberculosis,” he added.
Researchers are also studying whether Vitamin D can help in COVID 19 cases because of the anti-inflammatory element of the vitamin.
But despite being a tropical country, studies show that a majority of Filipino urban workers are still Vitamin D deficient. Based on a study, 49.2 percent are Vitamin D deficient.
The color of the skin is a significant factor. A darker complexion naturally protects the human skin from the harmful effects of the sun, so it shields the body from the effects of the sunlight also.
Dr. Cabral agreed that Vitamin D is really beneficial for the body and that the sun is the best and free way to boost Vitamin D levels. “But the real question is, what type of sun do we really need? Do we need the early morning sun or late afternoon? Does it really matter?” she asked.
“Truth be told, the best time to acquire Vitamin D from the sun is from 10 am to 2 pm… Without sunblock and long sleeves, it is best to bask in the afternoon sun for 15 to 20 minutes at most”, Cabral said.
Dr. Cabral also clarified that exposing ourselves to the sun without sunblock, however, poses risks of getting skin diseases. Thankfully, we have vitamin D capsule supplements with an ample dosage of 800IU available which can provide us with the Vitamin D we need without having to worry about getting skin problems.
Dr. Mustofa, on the other hand, said that Vitamin D is not only good for the skin and bones, but also for mental health. “There are studies that show low levels of Vitamin D is one of the reasons why we experience mood swings, anxiety, worsening schizophrenia, and even tingling sensations,” she said.
“Calcium is more easily absorbed by the body when there is Vitamin D. If you notice, they are usually given together. If there is a good source of Vitamin D, and calcium is better absorbed, there is a balance in the hormonal functions of the body. So Vitamin D benefits the body from top to bottom, physically and mentally,” said Mustofa.
The Dok, Okay Ba ‘To e-talks series is targeted to resume next year. The two episodes were presented by Enervon, Conzace, and Forti-D.
eTalks can be accessed through https://www.facebook.com/Unilab/videos/981298099133979