Buying Nutritional supplements- What you need to know.

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Nutritional supplements can enhance sports performance. Buying nutritional supplements is often tricky for an athlete and increases the risk of inadvertent doping. Here is what every sportsperson coach should know

Buying Nutritional supplements- what you need to know


If you are into active sports- train hard day after day but unable to get the desired outcome. You may think probably my diet is inadequate and needs a boost of a “Nutritional supplement”. 
Nutritional supplement is a product intended to supplement the diet, and contains one or more dietary ingredients vitamins, minerals, amino acids, other dietary substances intended to supplement what is lacking in the diet. It could be ergogenic and can contribute to better sports performance 1.  However, it should not contain any banned substances as per the list provided by World Anti-doping Agency(WADA). 
The market is flooded with nutritional supplements. Nutritional, organic, natural, herbs and herbal extracts. Tablets, powders, potions, drinks, wafers, chips, biscuits, energy bars. Choosing and buying a supplement could be confusing. 
A detailed review of 23 studies from different countries that analyzed dietary supplements showed that most of the supplements contained prohibited substances, prohormones, anabolic steroids, and/or stimulants. The rate of contamination is between 12 to 58% 3. The outcome is scary. Inadvertent or unintentional doping could be devastating for a true sportsperson. 
The coaches, athletes and parents must be aware of the problems associated with supplements. Here are some of the tips that you need to know before buying a supplement. 
1.     Evaluate the diet:Evaluate the diet of a sportsperson in relation to training sessions, phase of training and competition. Make dietary changes, add meals, snacks, food sources to improve nutrient content. Correct nutritional deficiencies. Time meals as per training needs. 
2.    Identify the needIncrease in training load, frequent travel for competitions in different regions, poor access to good food, loss of appetite, can increase the need for supplementation.
3.  Sports specific:The supplements available to you are huge. Choose the appropriate composition that can be suitable to the sport- endurance, power, strength, racket sports could need different combination of supplements. 
4.     Check labels:Supplements can contain one or more ingredients, nutrients. It’s important to check the dose and compare it with the requirements or recommended dietary allowances(RDA). Some products may be overdosed or very low. If you are using two or more supplements each product may have the fortified vitamins/minerals and can lead to excess intake. 
5.    EvidenceReview literature for evidence based clinical trials that show the benefits, effects, dose and adverse effects, safety about a supplement product or ingredient. 
6.     Buying the supplements: Supplements can be bought online or over the counter. Search online suggests that the same product is available at different costs on different online portals. It’s important to check if the product is genuine or contaminated. 
7.     Supplement certifications: Some supplement companies offer guarantees of purity or are certified by other companies that do quality control. There are five agencies that provide certifications for supplements- NSF- International, Banned Substances Control Group, Informed choice, Consumer, USP-verified. However, there is no absolute guarantee. 
Supplement market will continue to grow, attract athletes to try a new product to enhance performance. The coaches, parents and sportspersons should be vigilant and choose the appropriate supplement to enhance performance. The secret to success is methodical training, good nutrition and a desire to win, “Supplements” are just the "Icing on the cake". 
1)    Bucci L R Dietary supplements as ergogenic aids. In Wolinsky I(ed) Nutrition in Exercise and Sport, 1stedition: Boca Raton, New York: CRC Press;1988 pp 315-323. 
2)    Burke, L. O. U. I. S. E., Cort, M. I. C. H. E. L. L. E., Cox, G. R. E. G., Crawford, R. U. T. H., Desbrow, B., Farthing, L. E. S. L. E. Y., ... & Warnes, O. L. I. V. I. A. (2006). Supplements and sports foods. Clinical Sports Nutrition. Sydney, Australia: McGraw-Hill, 485-579.
3)    Martínez-Sanz, J., Sospedra, I., Ortiz, C., Baladía, E., Gil-Izquierdo, A., & Ortiz-Moncada, R. (2017). Intended or unintended doping? A review of the presence of doping substances in dietary supplements used in sports. Nutrients9(10), 1093.

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