Sports Supplements: General Info

Sports supplements are products used to enhance athletic performances. Some people take sports supplements in order to help gain muscle mass, increase strength, enhance endurance, speed up recovery from heavy workouts, and prevent illnesses. Other people use sports supplements to lose weight. Sports supplements are mostly offered over the counter and are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They come in different forms like drugs, hormones, and vitamins.

Creatine is one of the most popular sports supplements. It is a natural derivative of an amino acid that is manufactured by the body in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. Extra creatines consumed are stored in the muscles and manufacturers claim that it helps to speed the transfer of energy from cells to muscles, giving an energy boost during workouts and improving performances. Creatine is available over the counter in the forms of pill, powder, or gel. Common side effects of taking creatine supplements include weight gain, abdominal pain, dehydration, diarrhea, seizures, and kidney problems. The FDA reports have also cited cardiac arrhythmias, deep vein thrombosis, myopathies, and death as potential dangers.

Anabolic steroids are also widely used among athletes. These are hormones that act like the male hormone testosterone and are used to generate larger and stronger muscles by stimulating the muscle tissues. Steroids, while effective, have many serious and dangerous effects such as high blood pressure, heart diseases, cancer, liver damage, stroke, blood clots, aggression, depression, and mood swings. The use of anabolic steroids is banned by many professional sports leagues. Some athletes use the less dangerous androstenedione and DHEA. Androstenedione and DHEA are natural steroids that can be broken down into testosterone. Although anabolic steroids are much stronger, androstenedione and DHEA can cause effects similar to anabolic steroids when taken in large doses. Androstenedione and DHEA may also cause hormone imbalance, testicular cancer, and infertility.