· 4 min read
NSF offers tips and advice about what parents and coaches need to know about the safety of supplements for exercise and athletic performance.
It’s no secret that athletes looking for a competitive edge often use supplements to build muscle and strength, speed up recovery and boost their performance. While a healthy diet, regular exercise and training can be enough for some, a growing number of student athletes are eager to jump on the supplement bandwagon in the hopes of getting bigger and stronger to perform their best.
If you are a parent or coach of a high school or college athlete wanting to take supplements, you may be asking yourself: “Do these supplements work? And, most importantly, are they risky?”
Many experts, including John Travis, Technical Leader of NSF’s Certified for Sport® program, warn that there are popular misconceptions about the regulation of the supplement industry, which increasingly targets young athletes. A chemist with more than 25 years of experience in analyzing dietary supplements, John points out that supplements are regulated by the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA), though more like food products than to medications, and do not need pre-market approval. This means supplements are considered safe until proven otherwise by the FDA. The lack of pre-market approval, while great for innovation, provides a path for harmful substances to make it into the marketplace.
With so many high school and college athletes using supplements, parents and coaches need a heightened vigilance about the potential impact of supplements on their student athletes' heath.
“With the history of adulteration and contamination that has been reported on sport supplements, you need to consider the stakes when choosing dietary supplements.”
In 2019, the NSF supplements team collaborated with the women coaches’ organization, WeCOACH, to survey coaches to learn how supplements are perceived by both coaches and student athletes. Based on that survey, NSF experts recommend the following to parents and coaches when purchasing a supplement for their student athlete:
“With the history of adulteration and contamination that has been reported on sport supplements, you need to consider the stakes when choosing dietary supplements,” John says. “Ultimately, a student athlete is solely responsible for anything they take, which is why it is so important to be diligent when looking for certified supplements and deciding which ones are right for your student athlete.”
You can check for NSF certified supplements at nsfsport.com/certified-products or download the Certified for Sport® app on the App Store or Google.
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