The dietary supplement industry has a long and varied history. It is rapidly growing and expanding as more athletes look for ways to gain a competitive edge over their competitors and the general population looks for ways to lose weight, shed body fat and gain energy. Unfortunately, the supplement industry is not regulated as much as pharmaceuticals or even the food industry causing problems for athletes who may accidentally ingest a supplement contaminated with a banned substance. Similarly, the general public is put at risk as supplements may contain harmful ingredients or ingredients deemed safe unless ingested in unknown quantities.
Currently, the dietary supplement industry lacks regulation and quality control over its products. This can lead to fillers being added or substances which have been banned in one country when the supplement was manufactured in another. The lack of regulation helps to keep the cost of supplements from reaching the overpriced levels of most pharmaceuticals. It allows for research and development to continue at a somewhat uninhibited pace meeting the consumer demand.
However, the lack of regulation means that consumers do not always know what they are getting. This is true even with the food industry which is, in fact, regulated! This is both a public safety issue and can be a career issue for some who can be suspended or banned from their sport for unknowingly ingesting a substance that was not on the label of the product.
Supplement use is quite common. In one study it was found that nearly 60% of people use at least one nutritional supplement. Most athletes who use supplements are looking to increase their performance and gain a competitive advantage in some manner. It is recommended that athletes consult with a nutrition practitioner or other nutrition professional to seek counsel on how to improve performance or how to utilize supplements to complement their current diet.
Those looking to used dietary supplements for health benefits should look to whole food choices first before reaching for a bottle of supplements. Your body will utilize the food as it should and you can guarantee that there are not any questionable fillers in your whole food! If you cannot get the dietary support you require from whole food sources, do your research before taking any supplement to ensure you are taking a quality supplement and not risking your health or wasting your money.
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Mueller, K., & Hingst, J. (2013). The Athlete's Guide to Sports Supplements. Champagne, IL: Human Kinetics.
Petroczi, A., & Naughton, D. P. (2008, January 10). The age-gender-status profile of high performing athletes in the UK taking nutritional supplements: Lessons for the future. Retrieved May 21, 2017, from https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-5-2
Petróczi, A.,Naughton, D. P., Pearce, G.,