Whether you are a high school athlete hoping to play in college or just trying to get back into shape, wouldn’t it be nice if there was a safe and reliable nutritional supplement that could help you on your way?
With scientific proof and when used properly, some nutritional supplements can be beneficial. However, there are potential dangers and pitfalls.
Research the source
Roughly 25 percent of nutritional supplements on the market today contain a banned or illegal substance. This is a highly unregulated market, and the nutrition label may not be all-inclusive.
Excessive intake of certain substances can lead to very serious health consequences, not to mention potential loss of a scholarship for a college-aged athlete if they have a positive drug test.
Companies producing nutritional supplements do not test products for purity. Some companies voluntarily run their products through a “certificate of analysis” process via a third party. The products they do test are either safe and legal or inappropriate for individuals to consume.
Choosing a product from a company that voluntarily goes through this testing is the best bet. Be even more prudent when purchasing supplements online. And make sure the product is safely packaged and sealed before beginning use.
Research the product
Numerous nutritional supplements are available with little to no research to back their claims. Supplements are frequently expensive. Do you really want to spend $70 on a two-week supply of a product that has no true benefit?
Look for products that have legitimate research supporting the manufacturer’s claims.
Additionally, check the dose in the product. While the company may be making a valid claim regarding a supplement’s effectiveness, the dose may not be adequate to provide measurable results.
This research can get confusing. At the Sanford Sports Science Institute, our registered dietitian can work with you to evaluate the efficacy of nutritional supplements that you currently take or are considering adding to your regimen.
What supplements do work?
- Multivitamins and minerals — for athletes who restrict caloric intake because it corrects deficiency
- Nutrient specific vitamins — for athletes who restrict caloric intake because it corrects deficiency
- Antioxidants — for athletes beginning high-volume intensity training because it prevents exercise related inflammation and cell damage
- Creatine — for athletes who want to increase muscle mass because it improves stamina for all-out efforts
- Bicarbonate — for athletes participating in high-intensity activities because it improves buffer against acidity in muscles
- Whey/soy/casein protein — for athletes trying to preserve or increase muscle mass because it provides protein necessary for muscle repair