It’s no surprise that athletes like their dietary supplements. By conservative estimates, they spend nearly $4 billion annually on pills, powders and other sports-nutrition products in the hope that they’ll improve health and increase performance. New Orleans Saints center Jeff Faine recently told a reporter that he takes about 65 pills a day; for the sake of time management, he has taught himself to swallow as many as 17 at a time. This daily gorging pales next to that of Bill Romanowski, the former linebacker. In his 2005 autobiography, “Romo: My Life on the Edge,” Romanowski writes that he kept a tackle box filled with some 500 pills and would take handfuls a day, all washed down with protein shakes. He also famously admits to taking vials of THG, an anabolic steroid, but most of what he consumed were legal supplements available at any Walgreens or GNC store.
Such supplements are not necessarily benign. In 2003, Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler died, in part, from a reaction to ephedrine, a wildly popular supplement used to increase energy and metabolism. Ephedrine, a stimulant derived from the ephedra plant, can elevate heart rate and blood pressure, in some cases fatally. It’s now illegal to market ephedrine as a dietary supplement, though it’s still widely available, often as a decongestant or a cold remedy. Sales are brisk.
The piece goes on to say that most supplements are worthless if the athlete eats a balanced diet, generally producing expensive urine. Creatine may be somewhat helpful.
There is also a regulatory problem. Since advertisers in the supplement market are known for ludicrous incredible false hype, regulation is an issue. However, the Govt isn't as rigorous in supplement regulation (which you see the lack of truthfulness in the ridiculous ads for male enhancement)
Because the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t closely regulate the nutritional supplement business — a 1994 law exempted supplements from strict oversight — the claims made by manufacturers tend to be extravagant. (“Instantly Triggers Extreme Muscle Expansion!”) The fine print adds that these statements have not been evaluated by the F.D.A. “But most people don’t read that far,” Coleman says.
The Statemens adds:
Dr. Linn Goldberg, a professor of medicine at Oregon Health & Science University, said recent studies done at the UCLA Olympic laboratory revealed that only 10 percent of supplements analyzed met labeling requirements. In an earlier study by the International Olympic Committee, nearly 20 percent of nutrition supplements examined contained anabolic steroids.
Sports dietitian Ingrid Skoog of the University of Oregon tells her athletes, "If they work, they're probably contaminated. If they don't, you're wasting money that could be spent on food choices that can improve performance."