Sport Supplement Ingredients to Avoid

Individuals who participate in organized sports at all levels frequently look to supplements to help them compete. However, these products may not be totally risk free under all circumstances. As an athlete, if you do choose to use supplements, it’s important to be aware of which ingredients to avoid.


Several sport supplements have tried to market a harmful off-patent drug known as DMAA as a natural constituent of geranium or its extract. There has been no credible scientific evidence to support that claim. DMAA has been associated with numerous adverse health events and even several deaths. Several professional and Olympic athletes have lost their eligibility to compete due to DMAA. Stores and online retailers still sell products that contain DMAA, despite the FDA ban.


Athletes of all ages need to avoid products containing potentially harmful adulterants like N,a-DEPEA, also known as N,alpha-diethylphenylethylamine. This substance has a structure similar to methamphetamine, and its effects have not been studied in humans. Products containing this ingredient have been linked to several failed drug tests, and its addictive and pharmacological properties are unknown.


A synthetic stimulant never before studied in humans, DMBA or 1,3-dimethylbutylamine, was recently found in a dozen supplements. DMBA is chemically similar to DMAA, which is banned by regulatory agencies in the U.S., UK, The Netherlands and Brazil because of suspected links to strokes, heart failure and sudden death. There are no known safety studies on DMBA and its health effects are entirely unknown. This ingredient may appear on labels under names like 4-amino-2-methylpentane citrate and AMP citrate.

“Andro” Ingredients

Any ingredient with “andro” in the name suggests it is a steroid that can be converted by the body into a hormone. Most major sport organizations have banned such ingredients, which can cause serious side effects, including heart disease, depression and mood swings.

Don’t Assume Products Sold Online are Safe

The supplement industry is constantly changing, and new products are created and brought to market daily. Although many manufacturers do their best to keep harmful ingredients out of their supplements, some of these products can still contain ingredients that are not safe. Be sure to check the label, talk with your doctor or trainer, and look for certification before taking a supplement to protect your health and your game.

Understand the Purpose of Supplements

Nutritional supplements are not a replacement for poor eating habits, so it is important to eat a well balanced diet. They can help support your performance, and if you are looking for an additional edge, they may be able to help provide nutrients that you might not otherwise be consuming at the recommended amounts.

Some supplements contain ingredients that may impact long-term health. While the ingredients may be legal, they can have health consequences when consumed, negatively interacting with other ingredients and medications. Even exercise levels can impact how ingredients affect health. Caffeine, for example, affects the human body differently when strenuously exercising compared to when resting.

For a current list of NSF certified sports supplements, visit or download the NSF for Sport App.