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Risks vs. Reward - The Dangers of Using Unregulated Supplements

Did you know supplements like protein powders, pre workout, and vitamins that carry a Supplements Facts (instead of a Nutrition Facts) panel aren’t regulated the same way as food and medicine is?

An unregulated $152+ Billion global supplement industry means a lot of potential risks:

1. Contamination: Supplements can be contaminated with substances that are not listed on the label. Contaminants might include banned substances, allergens, or other unintended compounds.

2. Banned Substances: Taking a supplement that contains a banned substance, even unknowingly, can result in failed drug tests and potential suspension from competitions. (Read: In a recent study >28% of the analyzed dietary supplements pose a potential risk of unintentional doping)

3. Inaccurate Labeling: The actual ingredients in a supplement might not match what's listed on the label. This can lead to unexpected effects or adverse reactions, especially if you have allergies or sensitivities to certain ingredients.

4. Adverse Health Effects: Poor-quality or contaminated supplements can lead to adverse health effects. Some supplements might interact with medications you're taking or have other negative effects on your health.

5. Wasted Money: Investing in supplements that don't deliver the promised benefits due to poor quality or inaccurate labeling can be a waste of money.

To mitigate these risks, here are some steps athletes can take:

1. Check for Third-Party Testing: Look for supplements from reputable brands that have undergone third-party testing for quality and purity, specifically for athletes' needs. Check the bottle for certifications like NSF Certified for Sport or Informed Sport, which indicates third-party testing for banned substances.

(Search for 3rd party tested supplements: NSF for Sport, Informed Sport)

2. Consult Professionals: Consult with a sports dietitian or healthcare provider before adding any new supplements to your regimen.

3. Use the Least Amount Necessary: Whenever possible, aim to get your nutrients from food rather than supplements. Supplements should be used to fill specific gaps in your nutrition, not as a replacement for a balanced diet.

Remember, as an athlete, you're responsible for what you put into your body. Taking a cautious and informed approach to supplements is essential to protect both your health and your athletic career.


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