Jan 29, 2015
Supplemental Living

By Kyle Garratt

According to the Nutrition Business Journal, the nutritional supplement industry produced $25 billion in revenue in 2008. Athletes represent the largest group of consumers of these supplements. Be it through protein powder, flaxseed oil, or nitric oxide, many athletes competing at a high level try to give themselves an advantage. But are all these supplements effective or, more seriously, safe?

Worth the Weight?

Even non-athletes are spending $1,000 or more a year on supplements to bulk up or enhance performance. But medical professionals are split on how wise it is to drop hard-earned money on products that are loosely regulated and inconsistent. Most seem to believe athletes can achieve their fitness goals through a balanced diet and effective exercise regimens.

“Schools and other sports organizations should be proactive in discouraging the use of performance-enhancing substances,” Dr. Teri M. McCambridge, who practices pediatric sports medicine in Towson, Md., and is Chairwoman of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness, told The New York Times.

Varied Views

Not surprisingly, different medical experts have different takes on the role of supplements and vitamins. Some say to proceed with caution.

“Vitamins should only be taken if it’s recommended by the doctor,” Myra Albury Deputy, chief dietitian at Princess Margaret Hospital in the Bahamas, told The Tribune. “These include cases where the person has a health condition, which includes diseases that affect your iron count, like a kidney ailment which makes taking a vitamin necessary to make up for deficiencies.”

Others feel they are needed as diet’s increasingly feature processed and fast foods.

“Vitamins do play a very important part in health and longevity,” Dr. Humblestone, a physician for stress related disorders in the Bahamas, told The Tribune. “If you can’t get it in your diet, then you supplement.”

Complimentary Care

Complimentary and alternative medicine, as well as natural herbs and supplements may seem like a safe way to boost one’s health. But the Chicago Sun Times reminds consumers not to breach this area without some considerations.

Healthy Recall

Last May, the FDA recalled 14 Hydroxycut weight-loss products after it received 23 reports of liver injuries, including a 19 year-old man who died after taking Hydroxycut. The company bills itself as “America’s #1 weight-loss supplement,” and sold about nine million packages in 2008.

A Break for Bones

A large study published in the British Medical Journal showed that vitamin D and calcium supplementation could help reduce bone fractures across all populations. When taken together, the supplements reduced fractures by eight percent among the almost 70,000 participants in the study.

“What is important about this very large study is that goes a long way toward resolving conflicting evidence about the role of vitamin D, either alone or in combination with calcium, in reducing fractures,” said co-author of the study, Professor John Robbins from the University of California, Davis.

Kyle Garratt is an Assistant Editor at Training & Conditioning.

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