October 31, 2016
A risky trend? Teen boys and muscle-building products
It’s not just teenage girls who are bombarded with images of ‘perfect’ figures. Teenage boys today are influenced daily by bodybuilders, athletes and models. Unfortunately, they’re lifting the bar bell for our adolescent boys to look more muscular and ‘perfect’. This was discovered in a recent study involving 13,683 teens and young adults. Many boys are taking muscle-building products. By age 19, 12 percent of all males reported past-year use of a muscle-building product. Males 16-25 years old were more than three times more likely to use a product than those 13-15 years old. This study looked at the muscle-building products creatine, anabolic steroids, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), hydroxymethylbutyrate (HMB), amino acids and growth hormone…so we should, too.
Creatine is a naturally occurring chemical in our bodies that is also found in red meat and seafood. Creatine helps supply energy to muscles and nerve cells. When taken as a supplement, creatine is believed to help muscles recover faster during exercises that use short bursts of energy like sprinting and weight lifting.Many teen boys are taking creatine supplements. According to a survey involving 604 middle and high school male athletes, 9 percent admitted using creatine. Among 12th graders, almost half admitted using creatine. The most common reasons for taking creatine were enhanced performance and improved appearance. The risk: Most athletes ingest 30 grams or more of creatine per day, even though the manufacturers only recommend 5 grams per day. High doses of creatine can cause weight gain, nausea, diarrhea and muscle cramping. Creatine also causes muscles to draw water from the rest of the body which can lead to dehydration. The safety and effectiveness of creatine have not been tested in teens.
Anabolic steroids are synthetic substances similar to the naturally occurring hormone testosterone. Anabolic steroids can produce an increase in muscle mass and physical strength. Users typically take a pill or use a hypodermic needle to inject steroids directly into the body. Due to safety concerns, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned the use of steroids as supplements in 2005. Anabolic steroids are illegal and are never prescribed to healthy young men. Supplement makers however, claim that their natural products lead to an increase testosterone. For example, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a naturally occurring precursor to a hormone that can be converted into testosterone. DHEA was not affected by the 2005 FDA steroid ban.The risk: Taking anabolic steroid supplements can cause rage and depression, breast enlargement, acne, high blood pressure, liver disease and shrinking of the testicles. Amino acids, including Hydroxymethylbutyrate and L-Arginine, make up the protein building blocks in the body. For most individuals, amino acid supplements are not beneficial if they are eating foods with sufficient protein such as meat, chicken, fish, eggs, nuts and tofu. Amino acid supplements claim to enhance exercise performance by increasing blood flow and nutrient exchange in muscles. The risk: Amino acid supplements may contain illegal substances such as nandrolone, an anabolic steroid, which might not be written on the ingredients label. Growth hormone (GH) is a naturally occurring substance that contributes to skeletal height growth. It is used for medical conditions such as short stature in an individual with growth hormone deficiency. The risk: The most common uses for GH, such as to build muscle, reduce fat and improve athletic performance, are not FDA-approved. GH’s effect on athletic performance is unknown. Some people inappropriately obtain injectable GH from doctors or the Internet. Pills and sprays are sold with claims that they can increase the body’s own production of GH. However, there is no reliable evidence to support this claim. If GH is given to someone who does not require it for medical reasons, it can cause diabetes, as well as heart, liver and kidney failure.
Bottom line: Are they safe for your teens? Some of these muscle-building products have been banned, but others are readily available. Current evidence suggests that only a small number have demonstrable benefits for athletes. More importantly, since these products are not FDA controlled, they are not regulated, and they could be risky and unsafe for your teens.Our advice: Ask your teens if they are taking any muscle-building products. The answer might surprise you. All of the muscle-building products have potential negative effects that outweigh any possible benefits. Instead, emphasizing daily exercise and healthy eating habits is the best prescription – and it’s available over-the-counter! http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/healthy_kids/A-risky-trend-Teen-boys-and-muscle-building-products.html