New Study Looks at Why Young Athletes Take Dietary Supplements

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Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.

dietary supplementApproximately 42% of athletes recently surveyed clearly gave reasons as to why they took sports supplements; the remaining athletes? Well, they were admittedly only somewhat sure as to why they supplemented. Findings of the study, aptly titled, “Evaluation of congruence among dietary supplement use and motivation for supplementation in young, Canadian athletes,” were recently published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

Researchers from the University of Delaware, the University of Calgary, and Mount Royal University based their study findings on earlier research. The 2008 study revealed that 78% of young athletes surveyed believed that nutritional supplements weren’t essential toward an athlete’s success, yet 48% of those participants took supplements anyway—despite not thinking it was essential for athletic performance.

Approximately 80% of participants in this current study said they took supplements for health- related reasons. Those reasons included staying healthy, boosting the immune system, or simply because they were instructed by a doctor. These participants also noted performance as a key reason for taking supplements. Strength, power, endurance, muscle mass, and improving recovery time were just some of the subcategories listed.

Over 500 athletes between the ages of 11 and 25 took part in this study. About 90% of participants named electrolyte beverages as a supplement they took; 71% took protein bars; 57% used multi-vitamins; followed by vitamin-enriched water and protein powder at 65% and 51% respectively.

However, results from the study did show that, when it came to taking certain supplements (i.e. protein supplements, vitamin and mineral supplements, etc.) most of the participants were unaware as to why they were taking them—they admitted to only taking them because their friends or teammates were taking them.

Further research published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that energy supplements send thousands of teenagers to the ER room every year in the U.S.—even more so than prescription stimulants! CDC and FDA researchers looked at information from a national database covering 63 hospitals from 2004 to 2013.

An estimated 23,000 people visit emergency rooms annually after experiencing problems with supplements. Most of the cases revolve around teens and young adults who are hoping to lose weight; kids who accidently consume supplements and elderly adults who choke on pills are also common ER cases.

The report further revealed how cardiac symptoms are documented more frequently in ER visits for complications associated with energy products or weight loss—more so than for prescription stimulants.

Source for Today’s Article:
Parnell, J. A., et al., “Evaluation of congruence among dietary supplement use and motivation for supplementation in young, Canadian athletes,” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 2015; 12:49; doi: 10.1186/s12970-015-0110-y, last accessed January 15, 2016.
Geller, A. I., et al., “Emergency Department Visits for Adverse Events Related to Dietary Supplements,” New England Journal of Medicine, 2015; 373:1531-1540; doi: 10.1056/NEJMsa1504267, last accessed January 15, 2016.

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Adrian has been working in the information publishing world since 1997. But when it comes to health information, he’s a self-admitted late bloomer. A couch potato since pre-school, Adrian was raised on TV, video games and a lifestyle that led to childhood obesity that followed him well into adulthood. But when he hit his forties, he decided enough was enough. He had a family to take care of and his days of overeating, under-exercising and inactivity were going to lead... Read Full Bio »