ANN ARBOR, Mich. – More than a hundred athletes have failed doping retests for various reasons, and are potentially at risk of being banned from athletic competition. Because of this, it is even more important that an athlete avoid unintentionally consuming dietary supplements that could contain banned substances.

For 70 years public health and safety organization NSF International has tested and certified consumer products. Over a decade ago it began testing and certifying supplements at the request of major U.S. sports teams. Today the organization shares resources designed to help athletes – and everyday consumers -- find safer supplements and vitamins and understand the significance of supplement certification.

To highlight the prevalence of unsafe supplements and the devastating effects it can have on a professional athlete’s career, NSF International developed this infographic on Playing It Safe in Sports.

Below is some advice for every consumer – from professional athlete to weekend warrior – to consider before taking a dietary supplement.

  1. Supplement Ingredients to Avoid. Most manufacturers within the supplement industry play by the rules; however there are a handful of bad players that mislabel or misrepresent ingredients within their product. The top 12 supplement ingredients to avoid have harmful health effects including liver damage, depression and cardiac arrest. Staying on top of information around sports supplement ingredients to avoid can be overwhelming.  Consumers should look for third-party certification, such as NSF International’s Certified for Sport®, which is recognized by the NFL, NFLPA, MLB, MLBPA, PGA, LPGA, NHL, CPSDA, Taylor Hooton Foundation and CCES.
  2. NSF International Certification Helps Ensure Safer Dietary Supplements. The dietary and nutritional supplements industry has grown tremendously in the last decade, yet these products do not receive the same regulation as prescription or over-the-counter drugs. This is why NSF International developed the nation's first independent testing standard and product certification program strictly for dietary supplements. The NSF Certified for Sport® program helps protect against the adulteration of products and verifies label claims against product contents. The list of banned sports supplements under the Certified for Sport® certification is extensive and includes screening for more than 245 athletic substances, including anabolic agents, diuretics, Beta-2 agonists, masking agents, hormone antagonists, PPAR-delta agonists, SARMs, stimulants and beta-blockers.
  3. Tips on Buying Dietary Supplements. From weekend warriors to college athletes, there are ways to improve your health without hurting your game. One area where consumers commonly get confused is the difference between energy and sports drinks. Energy drinks are beverages containing ingredients like caffeine, taurine, sugars and other stimulants. Practice caution if you plan to consume energy drinks before or during exercise because they can overstimulate the heart and nervous system. Additional advice to consider before buying supplements includes reading the label, avoiding catch phrases and following the recommended dose.
  4. Frequently Asked Questions About Sports Supplements. We provide answers to five commonly asked questions about dietary supplements, defined as any products taken by mouth that contain a "dietary ingredient" intended to supplement the diet. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals and amino acids as well as concentrates, metabolites, constituents and extracts of these substances.
  5. Dietary Supplement Regulations. With so many dietary supplements on the market today, many people wonder how these products are regulated and what the regulations cover. Congress established the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) in 1994 to create a regulatory framework to address the safety and labeling of dietary supplements. However, the scope of the government’s oversight is limited. This is why general consumers and weekend warriors alike should look for third-party certification.

For more information on the NSF International Certified for Sport® program and why it’s beneficial for consumers to buy certified supplements, download our fact sheet.

Editor’s Note: Media seeking additional information or to arrange interview with NSF International’s dietary supplement and NSF Certified for Sport® experts can contact or call +1 734 214 6242.

About NSF International: NSF International is an independent global organization that writes standards, and tests and certifies products for the food, drinking water, health sciences and consumer goods industries to minimize adverse health effects and protect the environment ( Founded in 1944, NSF is committed to protecting human health and safety worldwide. Operating in more than 165 countries, NSF International is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Center on Food Safety, Water Quality and Indoor Environment.

The NSF Health Sciences Division offers training and education, consulting, auditing, GMP and GLP analytical testing, DNA testing, certification, R&D, regulatory guidance and corporate compliance for the pharma biotech, medical device, dietary supplement and bottled water/beverage industries throughout the product lifecycle. NSF wrote the only accredited American National Standard (NSF/ANSI 173) that verifies the health and safety of dietary supplements and also tests and certifies products to this standard.