Shelby: More than half of Americans take supplements to improve health, wellness and performance, but not all supplements are created equal. Keith Kocinski explains.
Keith: Bigger. Faster. Stronger. The pressure is on for young athletes to get that competitive edge. I sat down with a group of high school athletes to hear what they had to say.
Student: If you see the person next to you a lot stronger than you that it’s just your competitive nature that you think you need to take something to get the extra step on them.
Keith: And many are taking supplements – vitamins, proteins, testosterone boosters, all with promises to make you a better athlete.
Why do think young people are starting to take supplements more? Why do you think it is on the rise?
Student: It’s probably because they see people who are famous now, or people they see in commercials who are very fit, and they seem to say that their product works, or advocate that other products work. And that kind of makes people think that it’ll work for them too.
Keith: Nearly one in nine children in the United States are using some form of complementary health product or practice, such as dietary or herbal supplements. But do they work? Well, it depends on what and how you take it.
Dr. Pieter Cohen studies supplements. He says if you eat right, you shouldn’t need them unless you have a condition that requires them.
Dr. Pieter Cohen: Even if you’re very active as an athlete, you can certainly get all the nutrition you need from healthy food, and you don’t need to turn to supplements.
Keith: Cohen say things like vitamins, amino acids and proteins are generally safe. But young people should stay away from pre-workout, testosterone boosters or hormonal supplements.
Student: I took it right before I went to the gym and when it kicked in, like fifteen minutes after I took it, I just saw black spots while I was lifting.
Keith: And what made you try the pre-workout thing?
Student: I just wanted energy one day. My brother was like, ‘Here, I bought this the other day. Do you want to try it?’ Then we both decided we didn’t like it. That was it. I thought it was just going to give me some energy.
Keith: And did you think because it was on the shelf, it was something that was easily accessible, that it was safe?
Keith: But there is little regulation of supplements. And sometimes unsafe ingredients make it onto shelves. And many of the people who work in the stores are not trained dieticians. So be careful of high-pressure sales tactics since they sometimes get paid extra to sell you products.
Experts have these tips if you want to use supplements safely: Read the label. Take in moderation and only use the recommended amount. Avoid supplements with chemical ingredients or extracts. Avoid crazy claims. Also, check to see if a supplement is third party certified. Finally, consult a physician before trying any supplement.
Dr. Cohen: I think people should have access to anything that’s safe. There is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to eat foods and get supplements that are safe. But they should be safe. And we shouldn’t be in a situation where we’re just trusting a fly-by-night company with our health.
Keith: Keith Kocinski, Channel One News.