Billions of dollars are spent on nutritional supplements every year. However, this profitable industry is not held to strict standards of providing pure, safe or effective products. The most recent case I have heard about relates to the circumstances surrounding sprinter Michael Rodgers, the former 2009 National Champion for the 100 meter dash. He qualified for this years team when he placed third at nationals. Now reports speculate he may have lost his eligibility by testing positive for a stimulant, methylhexameamine, found in an energy drink.
Where is the responsibility in the nutritional supplement industry? Unfortunately, the responsibility falls on the consumer! It is the consumers responsibility to know that supplements are not pure, safe, or necessarily effective.
Beware: when you take a nutritional supplement there is nothing protecting you from potential harmful ingredients or from false or misleading claims.
If you are concerned about optimizing your sport performance, you should be concerned about properly fueling your body. Food is your body’s fuel. Consider wholesome foods which provide a better nutritional value than any supplement.
Are you aware that:
• Food can provide the same nutrients a supplement does.
• Nutrients are absorbed better from food than they are from supplements.
• There are no side effects to food.
• Plant foods contain phytochemicals in amounts that are likely to promote health. Supplements frequently add these substances in large amounts which can be dangerous.
• Available scientific evidence does not support claims that taking phytochemical supplements is as helpful as consuming the fruits, vegetables, beans and grains from which they are taken.
• Food is cheaper.
• Most would agree, food tastes better.
It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that the best way to meet nutritional needs is by a wide selection of a wide variety of food. They point out that food, particularly plant based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds and teas have a myriad of other health promoting substances beyond vitamin and minerals-including carotenoids, polyphenols and flavonoids. These are substances linked to preventing or reducing the risk of certain diseases.
Amy Bragg, R.D., C.S.S.D., L.D., Director of Performance Nutrition at the University of Alabama and Vice President of the Collegiate and Professional Sport Dietitians Association believes there would be less reliance on supplements if athletes had better access to whole foods which offer benefits that supplements do not.
Athletes deserve to know what they’re eating is safe and supports their training. They spend enormous amounts of time practicing, drilling and conditioning. They can’t afford to be sick, under or overfed, or fatigued. A diet made of whole foods, wisely chosen from a broad spectrum of real foods and varied daily is the best way to meet an athlete’s nutritional needs.
Published by Diane Boyd.