As more and more young athletes compete to stand out in their sport, they may have questions regarding the use, effectiveness and safety of nutritional and performance-enhancing supplements. Below are helpful guidelines to help keep young athletes safe and healthy.
What is a supplement?
The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 helped define what a supplement is.
A dietary supplement is a product that:
- “Supplements” or “adds to” the diet those nutrients already found in foods --this means you cannot take a vitamin to make up for the fact that you may not like to drink milk
- Contains one or more ingredients, including vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids and other substances or their constituents
- Is intended to be taken by mouth as a pill, capsule, tablet or liquid--a B-12 shot is not a supplement but a B-12 vitamin in a pill form is considered a supplement
- Has a label on the front panel that identifies itself as a dietary supplement
Do I need to take a supplement to improve my performance?
Athletes are often looking for an “edge” when it comes to sports performance. And while there is no magic pill, athletes, parents and coaches may overlook the obvious nutritional deficiencies and hope that taking a vitamin or some other type of supplement will make up the difference. Unfortunately, supplement companies don’t have to actually prove that their products work. In fact, they don’t even have to prove they are safe before they are sold to the public.So how do you know what helps and what hurts and if there are age-specific recommendations to help kids meet their nutritional needs?