Vitamins Normally, a healthy person who eats a balanced diet will get all the vitamins needed. Vitamins are classified as natural or synthetic. The body uses both in the same way. Vitamins do not provide energy and they do not build muscles. They help release the energy from the carbohydrates and fats people ingest. The only disorders that can be cured by vitamins are those caused by vitamin deficiencies. If vitamin supplements are thought to be necessary by the athlete, a physician or registered dietitian should be consulted first.
Minerals Minerals are inorganic elements or molecules that do not provide energy, but in their role as body regulators, can contribute to the production of energy from carbohydrates and fats. Concentrated forms of minerals should be used only on the advice of a physician.
Herbal Supplements Medicinal herbs have provided some of the oldest medicines, however the effectiveness of many herbs has not been proven. Since the FDA treats herbal products as dietary supplements, manufacturers of these products are not required to demonstrate the safety or effectiveness of their products before they are put on the market, as drug manufacturers do. The composition of herbal products can vary greatly from one batch to another.
Glucosamine Glucosamine is naturally produced by the human body to maintain cartilage in the joints. Glucosamine has been proven as an effective treatment for osteoarthritis and as an aid in the recovery of some sports injuries. Side effects include stomach problems, heartburn, and diarrhea. People with heart problems or high blood pressure should consult a physician first. Glucosamine should not be taken by people using heart medications or insulin.
Chondroitin Chondroitin is a naturally occurring substance found in human and animal cartilage. It has proven abilities to treat osteoarthritis. Anticoagulant users should consult their physicians before using chondroitin.
Anabolic steroids Anabolic steroids are available legally only by prescription. Athletes and others who abuse anabolic steroids often take them for a specific period of time, then quit for a while, then start again (cycling), and they will combine several types (stacking) in hopes of minimizing negative effects. Major side effects of anabolic steroid abuse include liver tumors and cancer, jaundice, fluid retention, high blood pressure, increased bad cholesterol (LDL), and decreased good cholesterol (HDL).
Anabolic steroids Other side effects include kidney tumors, severe acne, and trembling. Also, in males, testicle shrinkage, reduced sperm count, infertility, baldness, breast development, and increased risk of prostate cancer may occur. Females may suffer from growth of facial hair, male-pattern baldness, menstrual cycle cessation, clitoral enlargement, and a deepening voice. The adolescent’s skeleton may mature prematurely, permanently stopping growth in height. Various mental conditions are associated with anabolic steroids, such as aggression, mood swings, depression if the steroids are stopped, paranoid jealousy, extreme irritability, delusions, and impaired judgment. Other drug abuse may also occur.
Growth Hormone Growth hormone works by increasing protein production and allows fat to be used for energy rather than muscle glycogen. Side effects of growth hormone include heart disease, impotence, osteoporosis, and death.
Androstenedione Side effects include masculinizing effects in females and feminizing effects in males, premature bone growth cessation, aggression and mood changes, decreased HDL, increased cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, and pancreatic cancer. Androstenedione is a banned by the IOC, the NFL, and the NCAA.
Caffeine Caffeine makes people feel more alert, full of energy, in a better mood, and more productive Studies currently contradict each other as to benefits to athletes. Caffeine can cause sleeplessness, anxiety, headache, upset stomach, nervousness, and dehydration. Dehydration can work against athletes performance, since proper water balance is such an important part of nutrition. The IOC has banned caffeine over a certain limit.
Ephedra A shrublike plant that is found in desert regions. It is a stimulant containing the herbal form of ephedrine, an FDA-regulation drug found in over-the-counter asthma medications. Ephedrine is widely used for weight loss, as an energy booster and to enhance athletic performance. Serious adverse effects include hypertension, heart palpitations, neuropathy, myopathy, psychosis, stroke, memory loss, heart rate irregularities, insomnia, nervousness, tremors, seizures, heart attacks, and death.
Current IOC, NCAA, and Professional Standards The International Olympic Committee Medical Commission, in their effort to deal with Doping in the sports world, has developed three fundamental principles; 1.Protection of the health of athletes 2.Respect for both medical and sports ethics 3.Equality for all competing athletes The NCAA has a drug-testing program that mandates urine collection and analysis on specific occasions. Several professional athletic teams have written policy statements concerning the use of banned substances.
Ethics in Athletics The athletic code of ethics helps protect and promote the interests of athletics and the coaching profession, primarily to clarify and distinguish ethical practices from those that are detrimental.
Education for athletes Athletes need to understand the inherent dangers and risks associated with the use of dietary supplements and performance enhancers. The Healthy Competition Foundation is an organization that seeks to educate young people and their families about the potential health dangers of performance-enhancing drugs and to eliminate use of these drugs at all levels of sports.