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Nutritional Information

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Nutritional Supplements: Educate Yourself and Your Student Athletes


It is easy for coaches and athletic administrators to say, “That does not happen here” when it comes to a discussion on student athlete drug and nutritional supplement use. The increased availability of these products on the Internet, by mail order, or from nutritional supplement retailers, allows student athletes access to a wide variety of supplements that are highly marketed in fitness and strength training magazines with promises, endorsed by faulty research claims, of extraordinary weight loss, explosive power, or tremendous strength gains. Athletes consume supplements in addition to their normal diet because of the belief that these substances will live up to these claims. Unfortunately, supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and, therefore, may include undisclosed ingredients (click here for more information), have negative side effects, may be harmful when combined with other substances, or are impure and may, therefore, be potentially unsafe and harmful to the consumer. 

As a coach, athletic administrator, or parent it is important to be aware of what substances your student athletes may be using or exposed to by his or her peers. It is essential to educate oneself and the student athlete about the potential risks involved with uneducated supplement use. Before considering the use of a nutritional supplement - do your research and talk to your physician. Some websites that offer unbiased, scientific information about a wide variety of nutritional supplements are www.supplementwatch.com, www.consumerlab.com, and www.gssiweb.com. Athletes should always notify the team physician and athletic trainer if taking a supplement.

Most importantly, nutritional supplements are expensive!  Emphasize to your student athletes the importance of eating a well-balanced diet, practice, and being physically fit and healthy for the upcoming sport season over taking nutritional supplements.

Be informed. The following chart includes basic information about popular nutritional supplements that may be used by athletes.  Click on the appropriate links to find more information about a specific supplement.

SUPPLEMENT/DRUG

ATHLETES USE FOR

          SIDE EFFECTS & SIGNS OF USE

Ephedra
(ephedrine, ma huang)
Illegal Substance

Weight loss
Appetite suppressant
Improved athletic performance

Rapid heart rate
Heart arrhythmia
Increased blood pressure
Tremors
Possible: heart attack, stroke, death, seizures, psychosis

Creatine

Aids in muscle regeneration
Assists in anaerobic activity
Increase muscle mass

Nausea
Stomach discomfort
Muscle cramps
Muscle strains/ sprains
Weight gain
Dehydration
Possible: suppression of natural creatine production
in liver, pancreas, & kidneys; death when combined with
high heat and high humidity

Androstenedione
"Andro"
Dehydroepiandrosterone
(DHEA)

Increases testosterone levels
Allows for harder training
Helps a quick recovery

Decrease in natural testosterone production
Testicular atrophy/infertility
Increase hair growth
Premature closure of growth plates
Amenorrhea
Anxiety/Mood swings
Possible: heart disease, pancreatic cancer, liver dysfunction

 

Nutritional supplements are not the only thing readily available for athletes looking to improve performance. Illicit drugs are also used with the goal of aiding performance. Anabolic steroids and prescription medications (e.g., pain killers, stimulants, and depressants) are widely used by athletes. The following chart provides information about these illicit drugs. Click on the links to learn more about each.

 

SUPPLEMENT/DRUG

ATHLETES USE FOR

SIDE EFFECTS &
SIGNS OF USE

LINKS TO MORE
INFORMATION

 Anabolic Steroids
Illegal Substance
 

Increase muscle mass

Liver tumors/ Cancer
Jaundice
Fluid retention
High blood pressure
Increases in LDL cholesterol
Decrease in HDL cholesterol
Kidney tumors
Sever acne
Tremors
Testicular atrophy/infertility
Baldness
Insomnia
Aggression
Breast development (males)
Increased risk of prostate cancer (males)
Growth of facial hair (women)
Amenorrhea (women)
Deepening of voice (women)
Premature closure of growth plates (adolescents)
Accelerated puberty (adoles.)

NIDA - Research Report
CRC Health Group - Steroids

Treatment for Steroid Abuse

 

Prescription
Medication
Abuse
Illegal Use

Pain relief (e.g., morphine,
codeine, Oxycontin)
Insomnia/Sleep Disorders
(e.g., Valium, Nembutal)
Increase alertness, attention,
and energy
(e.g., Dexedrine, Ritalin)

Tolerance for the drug
Addiction/Withdrawal (e.g., restlessness, bone and muscle pain, insomnia, vomiting)
Death when combined with certain drugs, medications, and/or alcohol
Tolerance for the drug
Physical dependence/Withdrawal
Combined with other depressants
decreases rate of breathing and
heartbeat, possibly leading to death
Increased blood pressure, heart rate, respiration
High body temperature
Irregular heartbeat
Possible: cardiovascular failure, lethal seizures



NIDA Research Report
Vicadin Information
Demerol Information
Oxycotin Information
Valium Information

References
American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (www.amssm.org) (2003)
Gatorade Sport Science Institute (www.gssiweb.com) (2003)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (www.nida.org) (2001)

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