Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Friday, December 16, 2011

Where do you get your information on dietary/nutritional supplements?

We know that at least 69% of student-athletes purchase their supplements at their local retail store (2009 NCAA Study).

I can’t tell you how many calls we get that include the following statements, “The guy at the nutrition store told me I should take Product X. He said it would be fine to take and doesn’t have anything banned in it. He said it is safe.” We’ve discovered a trend; often times the sales clerk is wrong in his/her assessment of the product and really has no clue what impact the product will have on athletes health or eligibility. So where do you get your information on dietary/nutritional supplements? Do you turn to the person at the “nutrition” store or perhaps through a web search? Do you ask friends, coaches, or family members? Why do you ask these individuals for help?

Often, when we try to educate about a certain supplement and warn student-athletes about potential complications of use, we are asked, “how do you know?” We have had individuals demand proof that dietary supplements can be contaminated, or why a certain substance should or should not be banned. We are more than happy to provide proof and offer solutions that will help the athlete stay healthy, both on and off the field, but our question is, why do you not demand the same proof from those who suggest products to you? Do you ask the person at the nutrition store how they know the product will help you gain muscle? What is their expertise? Do you demand scientific evidence?

When you search online, do you research the manufacturer’s claims? Do you ask your friend how they know a product will work for you? Do you request their qualifications?

We are also aware of a lot of direct marketing. Companies selling Deer Antler Velvet, male enhancement products, etc., are sending emails directly to student-athletes. They may be using your name in the subject line and might even know your sport. In copies we have seen, they are telling you how great their product is, that it is safe, AND that it is NCAA “legal” or “approved”. This type of marketing personalizes the message to you. This helps gain your trust. Ask yourself, who are they? How did they get my name and email? What type of information are they giving me? What do they stand to gain? Is it worth my health and/or scholarship/career?

Our point is this: Don’t believe something just because someone tells you that it is true. The fact is, most dietary supplements are not backed by reliable, scientific evidence. They could be a waste of money, they could be harmless but ineffective, or they could be dangerous. With most products, there just isn’t enough information to make the claims that are made at “nutrition” stores, in direct marketing, or on the web.


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FDA reminder: Remember, FDA cannot test all products on the market that contain potentially harmful hidden ingredients. Enforcement actions and consumer advisories for tainted products only cover a small fraction of the tainted over-the-counter products on the market.

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