Nutritional and Dietary Supplements: protein drinks, vitamins, herbal extracts and supplements

What are nutritional and dietary supplements?

  • A product (other than tobacco) intended to supplement the diet. The product contains one or more of the following: vitamin; mineral; herb or other botanic; amino acid; dietary substance for use by humans; or a concentrate, metabolite, constituent, extract or combination of these ingredients.
  • The product must also be intended for ingestion and should not be advertised as food like bars and drinks. Many products list “nutritional” facts on the label instead of “supplement” facts even though this is not legal.

Why should parents be concerned?

  • There is a lack of regulation over diet and nutritional supplements available without a prescription and it is not possible to guarantee safety or quality.
  • Supplements must be proven harmful before being removed from the market compared with drugs which must be proven safe before they can be placed on the market.
  • Research shows that diet and nutritional supplements on the market can be mislabeled or may contain banned or illegal substances such as anabolic steroids or stimulants.
    • In 2007, 52 dietary supplements sold in the USA were analyzed for banned substances
      • 25 percent contained traces of anabolic steroids
      • 11.5 percent contained traces of stimulants
  • Your child may unknowingly take a banned substance which could lead to testing positive on a drug test, a negative reaction, or a harmful interaction with current medications, even over-the-counter medications.

What should parents do?

  • Pay attention to what your athlete is drinking and eating.
  • Pay attention to and carefully read labels. You will find extreme claims and statements on labels for energy drinks, nutritional supplements, and diet pills. A good rule of thumb is to consider how extreme a label claim is. If it's an extreme, over the top label claim, that is a big red flag and you should stay away from those products.
  • If you allow your athlete to use energy drinks or dietary and nutritional supplements, make sure you read the label carefully, check with your athlete's coach and make sure to monitor how much and how often your athlete uses the supplements.
  • If your athlete asks about using energy drinks or dietary and nutritional supplements, talk to him about why he thinks it is necessary and discuss alternatives such as healthy diet, getting enough sleep, appropriate exercises, how to recover from injuries, etc.