All college athletes, and some non-athlete students, have the drive to become bigger, better, and stronger. Many people will do anything to have bulging muscles and leaner bodies. Supplements are a broad category, with many types and forms. They are taken to build stronger and bigger muscles, as well as to burn fat to lose weight. Supplements have one definite thing in common – all are drugs. The supplement industry seemingly provides a simple solution to the common stress of becoming better: take a pill or add a scoop of powder to your drink. However, this “easy” answer is not so safe.
Many supplements across the board are not approved by the NCAA due to their ingredients and potential safety. Athletes nationwide can lose scholarships and the ability to play because of unknowingly consuming a substance that happened to be in a supplement. Not only are some supplements detrimental to one’s athletic career, but also to overall health. Medications are sent to the liver when consumed in the human body. Taking supplements puts more stress on the liver, and can cause serious liver damage. Other side effects are possible, which can be as serious as death. Consider who formulates and markets these products. Some of the people who create supplements have had multiple criminal lawsuits and charges against them because of unsafe products and results/side effects from taking these medications. One designer of popular supplements (discussed in this video) had to lie about his profession (he said he was a construction worker) in order to purchase compounds he wanted to use for his product. If this isn’t a red flag, nothing is.
Sometimes, supplements may be recommended for certain situations. However, it is important to ensure that they are safe, effective, and NCAA approved. If you are an athlete or even a typical student, consult your sports dietitian, athletic trainer, or local RD to figure out what is safe and best for you.
Blog post submitted by Penn State Dietetic Senior: Lauren Marucci