To achieve excellence in their sport, many young athletes dedicate hours of work each week, put intense strain on their bodies, and hold themselves to extremely high expectations. Parents who witness this effort may understandably want to do everything they can to support their athlete’s goals and hard work, whether that be with the best equipment, physical therapy, or a sports psychologist.
Unfortunately, dietary supplements may also be something that both athletes and parents turn to in the hope of performance gains and recovery support. This is problematic because dietary supplements are regulated post-market, which means the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t evaluate or approve products that are marketed as supplements before they hit the market, making them extremely risky for all consumers. There have been countless examples of “supplements” contaminated with steroids or prescription drugs, as well as manufacturers that intentionally and illegally include harmful or illicit ingredients without listing them on the label.
Even worse, many of the riskiest supplements are marketed toward athletes and those looking to support athletic performance. The FDA reports that supplements for muscle building, energy, and weight loss are most frequently spiked with powerful and dangerous ingredients, including steroids and pharmaceuticals. As such, it’s critical that parents help their young athletes avoid supplements in these categories. Keep reading to learn more.
Muscle Building Supplements
To produce results, supplements marketed for muscle building may contain steroids and substances that act like steroids, such as stanozolol. These powerful substances can lead to serious health effects, including liver injury, heart attack, kidney damage, and stroke.
Between July 2009 and December 2016, the FDA identified 35 reports of serious liver injury while assessing hundreds of reports detailing adverse events from supplements. The FDA reports that some of those liver injuries were life threatening. Anabolic steroids have also been associated with psychological effects like increased aggression, irritability, and depression.
Some of the most common contaminants in muscle building supplements are called Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARMs). These substances, such as ostarine and LGD-4033, have anabolic properties like steroids and are often included illegally in supplements despite being classified for investigational purposes only. Other muscle building products contain substances like dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), which disrupts normal hormonal systems in the body.
When it comes to recognizing risky muscle building products, parents should be aware of marketing that claims the product is a ‘legal alternative to anabolic steroids’ and products that promise performance enhancement.