The Heart Beat: FDA doesn’t regulate supplements, so you should

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By: Rachel Gallego

Staff Writer

A lot of athletes use supplements as part of their regular routine to get the most out of their training and enhance their overall performance.

However, many athletes do this without a full understanding of the associated risks and benefits. The use of supplements has become very common for various benefits, such as improving health, preventing illness, increasing performance and enhancing appearance. Among the most popular are geared towards diet and working out. Common supplements taken by athletes are vitamins/minerals, creatine, protein and glucosamine.

Shockingly, manufacturers do not have to register or get clearance with the FDA before a supplement goes on the market. According to the FDA, there is no regulation on the potency, purity or biologic activity of the ingredients in the dietary supplements. The FDA is responsible for labeling and claims. It is not until after the product is on the market that the FDA can intervene if it is proven to be unsafe.

Supplements can have serious side effects to the body and there can be an increased risk when using multiple supplements together without proper knowledge. They can have adverse effects as fundamental as nervousness, fatigue or increased heart rate. It is important to realize that the term “natural” may not always mean safe. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, safety depends on the chemical makeup, how it is prepared and the dosage. Certain herbs can even cause liver damage.

Although taking an adequate amount of a supplement might be beneficial, using it in excess can have dangerous side effects. For example, taking too much protein can cause dehydration and intestinal distress. You may be getting a sufficient amount through your diet, so it is important to be cautious. Some dietary supplements may also interact in a negative way with prescription drugs. Also, it is important to realize that supplements should not replace meals that provide additional essential nutrients.

Look through the nutrition label and look for any ingredients that may be part of the “Dirty Dozen.” These are ingredients that claim to have positive effects, but have serious health risks. Some of these are kava, bitter orange and aconite. The three of them go by 3-4 other names as well. Consult with a dietician and talk with your doctor before taking a supplement to ensure that you know if it is best for your overall health.

Overall, supplements can be a beneficial part of your training routine with proper knowledge on the subject matter.

The Cougar Chronicle: The independent student news site of California State University, San Marcos