New Year’s Resolution: Find Safe Supplements

Whey ProteinIn Part 1 of our newsletter on Dietary Supplements, we gave you an overview of the unregulated dietary supplement industry, how products become adulterated through deliberate use of prohibited ingredients by the supplement company or the cross contamination and poor quality control of the supplement manufacturer. In Part 2, we will discuss the challenges with the supplement purchasing process, the missing link to solving this problem, and how to determine if the products you are taken have been tested by a 3rd party lab to ensure they are clean and free of banned substances.

Can you trust the Supplement Store Staff?

The majority of Americans are overwhelmed and intimidated when they walk into supplement store or Pharmacy due to the abundance of options available. It’s not uncommon for the average consumer to rely on the advice of a supplement store staff clerk. Rarely, do these individuals have a degree in dietetics or nutritional science, have extensive dietary supplement education, understand the science behind the ingredients, or have familiarity with what products are 3rd party tested and free of banned substances. At the same time, supplement companies present their employees as experts in health and wellness products.

In 2013, there was a 14 year old athlete who recently had a cardiovascular procedure to correct an abnormal heart beat who was recommended and sold a stimulant with 3 stimulants, one of those being synephrine which is prohibited by the NCAA and many professional sports. In 2016, I was informed by 3 high school coaches and 2 athletic trainers who contacted me concerned about supplements their athletes purchased from the local supplement store. Three high school athletes were sold Prohormones (similar side effects as steroids) while another four high school athletes were sold a Pre-Workout with synephrine.
In a study published in Pediatrics (2017), 244 health food stores were contacted evaluate if the supplement store clerk would recommend creatine or testosterone boosters to a 15 year old football player. In total, 67% of all sales attendants recommended creatine for a 15 year old boy and 38.5% recommended creatine without asking any questions or being prompted to do so. Overall, 9.8% of sales attendants recommended a testosterone booster.

Our biggest concern and risk may lie with trusting someone without the proper credentials to sell an unregulated dietary supplement.

capsules of creatine and protein measuring spoons

3rd Party Testing and Certification

With the abundance of supplement brands and products on the market, it can be very difficult for the consumer to know which supplements are safe. This is why we must rely on the testing and certification process of a 3rd party lab. NSF has been considered the gold standard in 3rd party testing and many supplement companies have chosen NSF to test their products. NSF’s testing program focuses primarily on the supplement manufacturing and sourcing process, which provides key preventive measures to:

• Verify label claims against product contents
• Protect against the adulteration of products with prohibited substances
• Help identify substances banned for competition in the finished product or ingredients

This testing program prevents consumers from taking a product that may contain an ingredient harmful to their health. To learn more about which products are 3rd party tested by NSF, visit www.nsfsport.com
What is the Missing Link?

One of the primary reasons young athletes are turning to supplements is because of poor eating habits and insufficient calorie intake. Their current patterns of eating lead to a lack of muscle growth, strength, and body weight which causes them to look for the answer in a pill or powder. Nutrition is their secret weapon and missing link to optimize peak performance. By establishing proper meal timing combined with a balance of quality food choices, this will reduce their chances of looking for the answer in a supplement store.

How Does THF Help?

With abundance of supplement brands and products on the market, it can be very difficult to know what you are taking. We are here to help. Our educational programs provide an in depth look at the supplement industry and how to navigate these products. Our nutrition program also provides strategies to properly fuel yourself and combat the need to use many supplement products. Contact us to learn more about scheduling a program at your school.

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