Jan 29, 2015
Bulletin Board

New Creatine Supplements Raise Concerns

Every time a new creatine product is introduced, it claims to be the next great strength-building supplement for athletes. But recent research suggests that some newly introduced creatine formulations have potentially harmful side effects.

Basic creatine monohydrate–the most common form of creatine used in supplements–has been tested extensively, and while some debate remains about its effectiveness, it is generally considered safe when used properly. However, it has long been known that when creatine breaks down in the stomach, it produces small amounts of a harmful waste substance called creatinine.

A new product called Kre-alkalyn, marketed as a third-generation creatine supplement, claims to deliver creatine to the body effectively while being “buffered” to prevent creatinine production. But in the first independent study to test that claim, researchers from the United Kingdom found that Kre-alkalyn actually produced more creatinine than did creatine monohydrate. Under conditions designed to replicate the human stomach, Kre-alkalyn induced a 35 percent greater creatine-to-creatinine conversion rate than did an equal amount of creatine monohydrate.

A second new creatine formulation, creatine ethyl ester (CEE), is also marketed for its ability to prevent the breakdown of creatine into creatinine. However, in a different study, the same researchers found that it didn’t deliver on this claim. The ethyl group added to the creatine molecules actually increased the production of creatinine under stomach-like conditions. This study also debunked the claim that CEE delivers creatine to the body more efficiently–creatine monohydrate outperformed two separate CEE products in terms of bioavailability.

These findings suggest that athletes interested in using creatine should be advised to avoid Kre-alkalyn and creatine ethyl ester products. Creatine monohydrate still appears to be the safest, most effective option for creatine supplementation. Both studies were presented in June at the annual meeting of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. For more information, contact the society through its Web site at: www.sportsnutritionsociety.org.

Soccer Headgear Proven Effective In Play

Laboratory research sponsored by FIFA (the international soccer governing body) has already shown that wearing headgear decreases the risk of concussion and head trauma for soccer players by reducing impact forces. Now, that conclusion is backed up by a study that looked at actual on-field competition.

In the first soccer headgear study using real players, researchers at the McGill University Health Centre in Canada collected head injury data on 268 adolescent soccer players (ages 12 to 17) during their 2006 club season. Of the 52 who wore headgear, only 26.9 percent suffered a concussion during the season, while the 216 who didn’t wear the gear had a concussion rate of 52.8 percent. Even with the large difference in sample sizes, those results are statistically significant.

The researchers also found that wearing headgear decreased the risk of a second concussion among players who had already sustained one and helped prevent lacerations to the covered head areas. However, injuries to other parts of the head were not significantly different between the two groups. “This was important to examine, as many people fear that the use of soccer headgear may make players more aggressive and more prone to other injuries,” lead author J. Scott Delaney, MDCM, said in a statement. “At least for [head] injuries, it may show that wearing headgear does not encourage people to play more aggressively.

“This study may help convince parents and players that soft protective headgear can be an effective part of a comprehensive plan to reduce the number of head injuries and concussions in soccer,” he added.

The study, “The Effect of Protective Headgear on Head Injuries and Concussions in Adolescent Football (Soccer) Players,” was published in the July 2007 issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine. To view the free abstract and for paid access to the full study, visit: www.bjsm.bmj.com and type “soccer headgear” into the keyword search.

Va. Tech Athletic Training Hits the Road

Have you ever been covering an off-campus tournament and wished that you could put your athletic training room on wheels to take with you? For Virginia Tech athletic trainers, that wish has become a reality.

The Hokies’ new Gordon Family Mobile Training Room, named for the donors who made it possible, is a complete athletic training room and physician’s office built into a 33-foot trailer. In addition to the standard athletic training room equipment–including a portable X-ray machine–it has a restroom and a full kitchenette, all decked out in Tech’s signature colors and logos.

“At some venues, there’s really no place for a permanent athletic training room, but we can take this almost anywhere,” says Mike Goforth, MS, ATC, Head Athletic Trainer at Virginia Tech. “We’ve only had it a few months, and we’ve already used it at a major soccer tournament in town where there was no athletic training room. This summer we had it near the football field for two-a-days, mostly to serve as an air-conditioned cooling room for players who needed it. It’s been great.”

Goforth believes it is the only facility of its kind in college sports, so when putting together the specs, his athletic department looked at similar trailers that serve the PGA, the Chicago Bears, and the professional rodeo circuit for guidance. In the coming school year, he hopes this new asset will improve athlete treatment in all sorts of settings. “We plan on using it for everything from ACC tournaments to intramural events on campus,” Goforth says.

Overweight Athletes & Health Risks

On the gridiron, many coaches believe in a simple mantra for linemen: Bigger is better. But heavy athletes are at increased risk for a host of medical problems, according to researchers who presented their findings at the 54th annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) in June.

John P. Batson, MD, FAAP, a youth sports medicine specialist at the Moore Orthopaedic Clinic in Columbia, S.C., and the lead presenter, warned that overweight athletes are more susceptible to heat illness, asthma, musculoskeletal trauma, and even sudden cardiac death. “Being an athlete does not necessarily equate to being healthy,” Batson told Medical News Today. “The increased size of athletes has been documented in youth football in recent years, so this is an important and ever-growing–literally–problem.”

To make matters worse, if young overweight athletes do not continue athletics into adulthood, their health often declines further. Batson and colleagues said these individuals are especially prone to cardiovascular problems and osteoarthritis later in life, because eating habits and behavioral patterns don’t always adjust when activity levels decrease.

To minimize these risks, researchers recommend a comprehensive health assessment for overweight athletes that focuses on factors such as medical history, hypertension, diabetes, elevated cholesterol, asthma, sleep apnea, and orthopedic problems related to weight. An athletic trainer or other medical specialist should also evaluate heavy athletes’ dietary habits and use of performance-enhancing supplements and/or stimulants such as caffeine. The researchers further recommend that coaches and others on the sidelines be educated about the risks associated with heat illness, including how to identify an athlete in need of medical attention.


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