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Archive for April, 2021

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. By Our Student Pharmacist, Kelly Usakoski.

As the last week of April is coming to an end, it’s time to get ready for May and Mental Health Awareness Month. This occurrence was established by the Mental Health America (MHA) organization back in 1946 to help decrease the stigma that surrounds mental health.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has a very specific message this year to raise awareness, which is that you are not alone.

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Being able to feel comfortable with seeking the help you need is something to strive for and will take a lot of work. The NAMI has established the “you are not alone” campaign so that you can share your own story and struggle with mental illness and inspire others to do the same and seek help.

One in five adults will experience a mental illness during their lifetime.

Mental illnesses are common and treatable if you’re willing to take the first step.

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My experience with the Stigma Surrounding Mental Illness:

As a student pharmacist, I’ve come across a different stigma in relation to mental health that is pervasive. It’s the idea that being on medication for your mental illness means you weren’t strong enough to overcome it on your own. The way I like to tackle this type of thinking is to think about any other condition. If your cholesterol is high because your body is storing too much, you may take medication to decrease your cholesterol so that you can be healthier. You can also decrease your cholesterol by reducing your fat intake and exercising, but there can be barriers to making these lifestyle changes.

Mental illnesses are the same as physical ailments. They are due to a combination of social stressors and a chemical imbalance occurring in your brain. Sometimes people need that little extra bit of help (medications) to correct that imbalance. Medications do come with certain drawbacks and side effects. If one option doesn’t work, it may be beneficial to try something new.

Most people try many different options before they find the best treatment for them. The most effective treatment for mental illnesses is therapy and medication combined. Getting care for mental health will be a unique process for each individual, so make sure to talk to your healthcare providers about what’s best for you.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Therapy is a first-line treatment for mental illnesses, and there are many different types.

CBT is an evidence-based psychological treatment that works to reinforce positive thinking patterns. Depression and anxiety can come with intruding thoughts such as “I’m not worth it” or “I’m a failure”. Even if you tell yourself that those thoughts aren’t true, it can be hard to convince your brain.

CBT tries to retrain your brain so that you can have more confidence in yourself and recognize your self-worth. CBT provides you with the tools to better cope with difficult situations and helps you foster a more positive outlook on life.

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With covid-19 forcing everyone to make sacrifices to protect loved ones, jeopardizing job security, and causing a tense political climate, your mental health is more important than ever. If you don’t have insurance, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) can provide you with mental health services. If cost is a barrier to getting the care you need, check out the resources below:

Mental Health America of Franklin County:

The Alcohol, Drug, and Mental Health Board of Franklin County:

National Alliance on Mental Illness- Franklin County:

Netcare Access Crisis Resources


  1. Adult Mental Health Services. ADAMH Board of Franklin County. Accessed April 27, 2021.https://adamhfranklin.org/providers/category/adult-mental-health-services/
  2. Mental Health – Mental Health America of Franklin County. Accessed April 27, 2021.https://mhafc.org/category/health-and-medical/mental-health/
  3. NAMI Franklin County | A family-based, grassroots support and advocacy organization. Accessed April 27, 2021. https://www.namifranklincounty.org/
  4. Providers | ADAMH Board of Franklin County. Accessed April 27, 2021. https://adamhfranklin.org/providers/
  5. Psychological Services Center Referrals.pdf. Accessed April 26, 2021. https://psychology.osu.edu/sites/psychology.osu.edu/files/Psychological%20Services%20Center%20Referrals.pdf
  6. What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy? https://www.apa.org. Accessed April 26, 2021. https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/cognitive-behavioral
  7. Lukin DK. The History of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Accessed April 27, 2021.http://info.lukincenter.com/blog/the-history-of-cognitive-behavioral-therapy-cbt


What about Minerals? Nutrients Your Body Needs. By Our Student Pharmacist, Kelly Usakoski.

What about Minerals?

Last week I wrote about the nutrients your body needs to survive, but I didn’t have a chance to cover one important aspect – minerals! Unlike vitamins that are found naturally in food and plants, minerals are inorganic elements that are found in the earth and certain foods. Despite this difference, it is possible to get all of the necessary minerals you need from a balanced, diverse diet of vegetables, protein, and carbohydrates.

Types of Minerals: Macrominerals versus Trace Minerals

Your body only needs a very small amount of trace minerals to be healthy and getting too much of these minerals can be very toxic.  On the other hand, macrominerals are needed in much larger quantities.

Here is a list of some of the minerals you need.

Macrominerals: calcium (Ca), chloride (Cl), magnesium (Mg), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), sodium (Na), and sulfur (S)

Trace minerals: cobalt (Co), copper (Cu), fluoride (F), iodine (I), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), selenium (Se), and Zinc (Zn)
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How do Minerals Work in Your Body?

Minerals help make sure that your cells are healthy and able to function properly.  They play a role in muscle contractions, heart health, proper blood flow, and cognitive functioning. Minerals work together to maintain your body’s equilibrium, also known as homeostasis.

What to do if you have an imbalance?

Minerals need to be kept at a certain level in your body.  If you have too much or too little of a certain mineral, there can be troublesome side effects.

The most common reason for having a mineral deficiency is not getting enough of the mineral from your diet. The serious side effects are usually rare and occur in cases of severe deficiency or excess. The amount of each mineral you need varies by your age, sex, and health conditions. When your healthcare professional takes your blood, they can determine if your levels are within the normal range.
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Learning more about minerals

Here is some detailed information on three common minerals and supplements you may need.

Iron: Approximately 3 to 4 grams of Iron (Fe) can be found in the body.  The majority of iron exists in red blood cells to help deliver oxygen through the blood to your muscles and tissues. You can get iron from a variety of meats including chicken, beef, and oysters. You can also get iron from beans, lentils, tofu, cashews, and spinach.

Too much iron (iron overload)

  • Commonly caused by: red blood cell transfusions, hereditary hemochromatosis – a condition that causes too much iron absorption, and liver disease.
  • Side effects: Excess iron can cause inflammation in your heart, liver, and pancreas, which is hard to see. Iron studies, liver function tests, and blood cell counts can help with detection.

Too little iron (anemia)

  • Commonly caused by: pregnancy, menstruation, inflammatory bowel disease, gastric bypass surgery, celiac disease, blood loss, chronic kidney disease
  • Side effects: tiredness or fatigue, reduced exercise tolerance, a craving for ice cubes (pica)
  • Serious side effects: heart racing (tachycardia), hemodynamic instability leading to septic shock

Sodium: Sodium (Na) is abundant in many foods we eat and cook due to its use during food processing as a preservative. The most common sources of sodium are bread, pizza, sandwiches, cured meats, soups, burritos, chicken, cheese, and savory snacks. The recommended intake of sodium per day is less than 2,300 milligrams. This recommendation may be even lower if you have conditions such as high blood pressure, kidney disease, or heart disease. If you do have these conditions, your healthcare provider may have suggested the DASH diet plan (see below) that helps reduce your sodium intake.  

Too much sodium (hypernatremia)

  • Commonly caused by: loss of water without replenishing your water intake especially as you age, diabetes insipidus – a condition not related to diabetes that stops your body from maintaining a proper fluid balance, kidney disease
  • Side effects: excessive thirst, extreme tiredness, muscle spasms

Too little sodium (hyponatremia)

  • Commonly caused by: drinking too much water, eating disorders, water pills, congestive heart failure
  • Side effects: nausea and vomiting, loss of energy, headache
  • Serious side effects: seizures, coma

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Potassium: Potassium (K) can be found in fruits and vegetables like bananas, oranges, spinach, and mushrooms. It can be found in drinks like coffee and tea and some types of fish and meat. Potassium helps your muscles work, including your heart muscles and your brain. It also plays an important role in maintaining your body’s fluid balance.

Too much potassium (hyperkalemia)

  • Commonly caused by: high blood sugar due to diabetes, dehydration, kidney disease, certain blood pressure medications
  • Side effects: muscle cramps and pains, tiredness, feeling weak
  • Serious side effects: trouble breathing, unusual heartbeat, chest pains

Too little potassium (hypokalemia)

  • Commonly caused by: water pills, excessive vomiting and diarrhea, eating disorders
  • Side effects: generalized weakness, having trouble focusing, constipation
  • Serious side effects: trouble breathing, muscle paralysis, in patients with heart disease an unusual heartbeat may occur


  1. Definitions of Health Terms: Minerals: MedlinePlus. Accessed April 14, 2021.https://medlineplus.gov/definitions/mineralsdefinitions.html
  2. CDC. Micronutrient Facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published December 3, 2020. Accessed April 15, 2021.https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/micronutrient-malnutrition/micronutrients/index.html
  3. Vitamins and Minerals Explained. Pharmacy Times. Accessed April 15, 2021. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/view/vitamins-and-minerals-explained
  4. PubChem. Periodic Table of Elements. Accessed April 16, 2021. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/periodic-table/
  5. Minerals: Their Functions and Sources | Michigan Medicine. Accessed April 16, 2021. https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/ta3912
  6. Top Iron-Rich Foods List. Accessed April 19, 2021. https://www.webmd.com/diet/iron-rich-foods#1.
  7. Hemochromatosis (Iron Overload): Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Diet & More. Cleveland Clinic. Accessed April 20, 2021.https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14971-hemochromatosis-iron-overload
  8. Lopez, A., Cacoub, P., Macdougall, I. C., & Peyrin-Biroulet, L. (2016). Iron deficiency anaemia. The Lancet, 387(10021), 907-916. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(15)60865-0
  9. Top 10 Sources of Sodium | cdc.gov. Published February 26, 2021. Accessed April 20, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/salt/sources
  10. Hypernatremia: Symptoms, Treatment, Causes, and More. Healthline. Published October 2, 2017. Accessed April 20, 2021.https://www.healthline.com/health/hypernatremia
  11. Hyponatremia – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic. Accessed April 20, 2021. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hyponatremia/symptoms-causes/syc-20373711
  12. Image 3: DASH Diet what to eat.  Accessed April 16, 2021. https://themomedit.com/dash-diet-meal-plan-grocery-list-for-families/
  13. Which Foods are Rich in Potassium? WebMD. Accessed April 15, 2021. https://www.webmd.com/diet/foods-rich-in-potassium
  14. High potassium (hyperkalemia). Accessed April 15, 2021. http://www.kidneyfund.org/kidney-disease/chronic-kidney-disease-ckd/complications/high-potassium-hyperkalemia.html
  15. Gennari FJ. Hypokalemia. New England Journal of Medicine. 1998;339(7):451-458. doi:10.1056/NEJM199808133390707


Everything You Need to Know About Vitamins. By Our Student Pharmacist, Kelly Usakoski.

Looking at the vitamin and mineral section in the pharmacy can be overwhelming, even for healthcare professionals.   Happy Druggist Pharmacy on Karl Road is participating in the free vitamin program provided by Good Neighbor Pharmacy. Make sure to ask about vitamins when you come in.

Here are some helpful hints and tips about choosing the right vitamins for you.

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What are Vitamins?

Vitamins are known as micronutrients that are not produced by the body, with the exception of vitamin D. They are important for growth and daily functioning. The majority of the population gets the vitamins they need naturally from the food they eat. Sometimes if someone has a certain medical condition, or as they age, they may not get the vitamins they need from their diet and may need to supplement their diet with pharmaceutical products.

Can you Have Too Many Vitamins?

There is such a thing as too many vitamins, but it depends on how the vitamins are metabolized by the body.  Some vitamins are fat-soluble, meaning they are stored in fat and can accumulate in your body leading to potentially unwanted side effects. Other vitamins cannot be stored in your fat and leave your body through your kidneys, so experiencing side effects from these vitamins are not as common, but may still occur. 

Fat-Soluble Vitamins

  • Vitamin A (Retinol) – found in eggs, milk, liver, leafy green vegetables, etc.
  • Vitamin D (Calciferol) – oily fish, fish liver oils, egg yolk, dairy products, etc.
  • Vitamin E (Alpha-Tocopherol) – nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, wheat germ, etc.
  • Vitamin K (Phytomenadione; Menaquinones) – leafy green vegetables, wholegrain cereals, rapeseed, and soya bean oil

Water-Soluble Vitamins

  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) – found in liver, pork, wholegrains, legumes, nuts, fruits, vegetables, etc.
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) – liver, kidney, eggs, milk, rice, wholegrains, green vegetables, etc.
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin) – fish, poultry, meat, milk, wholegrains
  • Vitamine B5 (Pantothenic acid) – liver, kidney, eggs, wholegrains, fortified breakfast cereals
  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) – meat, fish, wholegrains, vegetables
  • Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid) – liver, legumes, leafy green vegetables, etc.
  • Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) – meat, poultry, liver, kidney, fish, eggs, dairy products
  • Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) – citrus fruits, bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli
  • Vitamin H (Biotin) – egg yolk, liver, kidney, milk, yeast

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Which Vitamins are Right for You?

When choosing your vitamins, it is important to take into consideration whether or not the product has been certified for Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP) for the manufacturer and packager. These practices are defined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and help ensure you are getting a product that is better quality and has exactly what the label says it has.  Without CGMP certification, your product has higher potential to be inactive, ineffective, or contaminated with toxic materials like lead. You can look out for the CGMP logo and check if manufacturers have been certified online through the following third-party organizations: National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP), Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), and the Natural Products Association (NPA).

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Health Conditions and Vitamins

Different health conditions such as pregnancy, high cholesterol, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease may cause different types of vitamin deficiencies in patients. It is important to consider what vitamins may be necessary for your health at different stages in your life. Vitamins can also interact with your medications, so it is extremely important to let your doctor know if you start and or stop any of your vitamins.


CDC. Vitamins and Minerals Are Critical. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published April 29, 2020. Accessed April 12, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/about-micronutrients/index.html

Ohio | Free Vitamin Program | Good Neighbor Pharmacy. Accessed April 12, 2021.https://www.mygnp.com/pharmacies/programs/healthy-kids-free-vitamins/?state=oh

Fat-soluble & water-soluble vitamins. ResourcePharm. Published January 18, 2020. Accessed April 12, 2021.https://www.resourcepharm.com/pre-reg-pharmacist/fat-soluble-and-water-soluble-vitamins.html

8 Foods That Are Packed Full of Vitamins. Live Cryo. Published April 27, 2017. Accessed April 12, 2021.http://www.livecryo.com/uncategorized/8-foods-packed-full-vitamins/

Nutrition C for FS and A. Accredited Third-Party Certification Program: Public Registry of Recognized Accreditation Bodies. FDA. Published online September 4, 2020. Accessed April 12, 2021.https://www.fda.gov/food/importing-food-products-united-states/accredited-third-party-certification-program-public-registry-recognized-accreditation-bodies

Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) Audit Program | USP. Accessed April 12, 2021.https://www.usp.org/verification-services/gmp-audit-program

The NSF Mark. NSF International. Accessed April 12, 2021. https://www.nsf.org/about-nsf/nsf-mark

vitamins.jpg (1732×1732). Accessed April 12, 2021. http://www.livecryo.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/vitamins.jpg


Please Welcome Kelly Usakoski, Our Student Pharmacist at Happy Druggist on Karl Road for the Month of April.


This month, we are joined at Happy Druggist on Karl Road by Kelly Usakoski, a fourth-year pharmacy student from The Ohio State University’s College of Pharmacy.

Kelly will graduate in May and will then take the test to become a registered pharmacist. Kelly will be with Kristie and the staff on Karl Road throughout April, so please stop by and meet her while she is in the store in Columbus.

Here is what Kelly tells us about herself:

Hello, I’m Kelly Usakoski, a fourth year pharmacy student at The Ohio State University and the APPE student at Happy Druggist Pharmacy for the month of April.

I’m originally from Michigan and got my Bachelor’s degree at Kalamazoo College in biochemistry. Don’t worry, I’m a Buckeye fan now. 

After college, I tried my hand at teaching elementary and middle school children, but I missed learning about advanced topics like chemistry. So then I tried working in a research lab, but I missed the social interaction and helping others. 

I eventually realized pharmacy would be the best of both worlds. I get to learn about topics like diabetes and heart disease and help manage patients’ disease states.  

My sister was doing her residency at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and she’s the reason I was so interested in moving to Ohio in the first place. Wanting to be near family, I made the move and started working at the Wexner Medical Center as a pharmacy technician in 2016 and applied to pharmacy school a year later. 

Pharmacy has been a great way to connect with people and keep my love of knowledge alive. Since my experience with pharmacy was mainly hospital based, it wasn’t until my last year of pharmacy school that I realized how rewarding community pharmacy and ambulatory care pharmacy can be.  

I’m excited to spend this month meeting new patients and making new connections.  

Outside of pharmacy, I enjoy having game nights with friends and family. I haven’t experienced a board game that I didn’t like- apart from Monopoly. Since Covid-19, most of my game nights have become virtual, so it’s been a challenge finding games everybody can enjoy online. 

I also play the bass guitar and love listening to a good bass line. Music has been a passion of mine since I was little and played the cello in the local youth orchestra. 

I also have a dog named Copper. He is a beagle who loves chasing squirrels and lounging around the apartment. He loves anyone who feeds him and he always enjoys a good belly rub. 

I’m getting married this September in Michigan, so a lot of my free time has been filled with wedding planning with my family and the future in-laws. My fiance and I have been together for ten years this April, so I’m excited to finally tie the knot. 

As I approach the end of pharmacy school, I haven’t found the perfect job yet, but I look forward to joining the workforce with all the amazing pharmacists out there. I’m excited to start practicing at the top of my license and helping new patients with their medications. 

So that’s my short story. I look forward to getting to know everybody at Happy Druggist Pharmacy this month!