What Weekend Warriors Should Know About Nutritional Supplements - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on July 12, 2013

What Weekend Warriors Should Know About Nutritional Supplements

Nutritional supplements can be particularly alluring to those who depend on the weekend for their workout fix. Most people would probably embrace a pill or beverage with open arms if it promised to enhance their exercise routine and deliver those quick results they’ve been dying to achieve. But before you head over to your local supplement shop for some whey protein and creatine, there are factors you should consider to ensure you’re making a healthy and safe decision for your body.

Sure, pre- and post-workout supplements can be great. After all, they can improve your performance, help you work out harder, and even build more muscle mass faster.

However, considering that the government doesn’t regulate dietary supplements, there’s plenty of opportunity for some brands to provide misinformation on labels or infuse unsafe ingredients into their products—and they do.

Although there are companies that truly produce a great product, some brands have been known to add dangerous ingredients into their goods. And there have even been cases where banned substances were found in some supplements, causing trouble for those who frequently get drug-tested at work, such as pro athletes or police officers.

Additionally, supplements that are labeled as “natural” products might even contain drugs including decongestants and other types of stimulants, which can interfere with other drugs you might be taking.

Still a skeptic? A popular supplement product, Jack3d, was recently banned due to the presence of an ingredient, DMAA, which was listed to improve metabolism. As it turns out, the ingredient was found to cause high blood pressure, which can pose additional health risks for users.

So are all supplements bad for you? Not necessarily. But if you do decide to take one for your weekend activities, be sure to do it safely. Here’s how:

  • Determine Your Goals: Understand what you hope to achieve with the help of a supplement. Are you looking to build your strength? Muscle mass? Endurance? Having a goal will help you choose which supplement is right for you.
  • Talk to an Expert: With so many supplements to choose from, and even more contradictory information out there, it’s important to speak with a specialist who knows supplements and different brands. You should find out what it does, how it works, and why it will help you.
  • Read the Ingredients: Before putting anything into your body, be sure to read the ingredients listed on the product label. Research any products you don’t recognize; learn the health benefits and any associated risks.
  • Go for Quality: No-name brands are typically the ones who contaminate their products with harmful ingredients or banned substances. Good companies will have their supplements tested by an independent lab; look for products certified by Consumer Lab, Informed Choice, or NSF International.
  • Take the Recommended Dose: Ingesting too much of a supplement can interact with other drugs you may take and also cause harm to your body. Talk with your doctor if you have any known health conditions, or if you’re not sure if the dose recommended on the label is right for you.
  • Consider a Healthy Diet: Unless you’re a pro athlete, supplements may not be as beneficial to you as a balanced, nutritional diet. There are plenty of nutrients you can get from just eating well. Before purchasing supplements, try including these foods into your diet.

Crozer-Keystone Health System offers comprehensive musculoskeletal care. From conservative approaches to managing pain to spine and hand services, rehabilitation, and joint replacement surgery, our sports medicine physicians and the physicians of the Premier/Crozer-Keystone Orthopedics Partnership can help determine what plan works best for you. Appointments within 48 hours; call 1-877-CK-MOTION (1-877-256-6846) or visit www.crozerkeystone.org. 

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