Student athletes are understandably concerned about performing their best. While many may want to take nutritional supplements, it's a smart idea to do your homework before starting or combining any new supplements.
Absolutely. Individuals who participate in organized sports at any level usually have special concerns regarding the potential for the presence of banned substances in supplements. Many reports have been published about athletes who took over-the-counter supplements, only to find out later that the products contained a substance not allowed by their sport.
While reading labels is important, it doesn't always provide a complete picture of a product's contents. It's important to do your research before you buy any supplements. Here are a few tips to help:
Learn the risks. Some supplements may contain banned substances that can potentially disqualify students from competitions. Supplements can also contain unhealthy ingredients.
Choose certified products. Even reading a label thoroughly may not provide all the information you need. As most dietary supplements are not tested before they are sold to consumers, look for products tested under the NSF Certified for Sport® program.
Talk to your health care provider. Before taking any supplement, discuss it with your health care provider. Student athletes need to know how a substance works and if there might be any interaction between any of the supplements they are taking.
With the history of adulteration and contamination that has been reported, student athletes need to consider what's at stake when choosing a dietary supplement. Ultimately, the only person who is responsible for taking a product is the person who ingests it.
For a current list of NSF Certified sports supplements and to learn more about the testing of supplements, visit www.nsfsport.com and download the NSF for Sport App. Check out new information on the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's Supplement 411 initiative or contact the NSF Consumer Office, email@example.com.