Home Health Dietary supplements intended for athletes are not benign for health

Dietary supplements intended for athletes are not benign for health


Health risks for uncertain benefits. This is the warning of the European Association of Cardiology concerning the food supplements aimed at athletes. In an article published in theEuropean Journal of Preventive Cardiology, it warns that nutritional supplements taken to improve sports performance can pose risks to the heart, regardless of the discipline. The organization therefore recommends that athletes do not consider nutritional supplements as risk-free substances that can improve their performance, even for the so-called “natural” herbal ranges.

“Certain nutritional supplements, including various plant extracts and natural extractsmay present a serious health risk and athletes may even risk violating anti-doping rules. Those who use supplements often have no knowledge of their effects on athletic performance and overall health. “, continues the document. “It is reported that most athletes receive nutritional advice from coaches, other athletes, family members and friends, suggesting that broader educational interventions, at an early age, are needed. The organization therefore highlights four key points to remember.

What are the most popular supplements?

Athletes need to know that: a natural supplement is not necessarily a safe supplement, and that it is advisable as a precaution to use products of established manufacturers with recognized quality standards. Furthermore, athletes are personally responsible for the substances they use, knowing that ignorance is not accepted as an excuse for a positive doping test. As recalled byEuropean Journal of Preventive Cardiology, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) maintains a list of banned drugs, but nutritional supplements are not included as many are unregulated or unlicensed.

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Doping refers the use of a substance or method potentially dangerous to the health of athletes or likely to improve their performance. “It is estimated that mortality in athletes doped with androgenic anabolic steroids is 6 to 20 times higher than in “clean” athletes, and approximately 30% of these deaths can be attributed to cardiovascular causes. “, note the authors of the article. The use of legal supplements by athletes varies between 40% and 100% depending on the sport and the level of competition. These include, but are not limited to, caffeine, creatine, energy drinks/gels/bars, beet juice and proteins.

Tachycardia, arrhythmia, hypertension… the heart in danger

Regarding caffeine, the article states that it is “an excellent example of a natural substance considered safe. ” Destined to improve performancesin particular the aerobic capacity in endurance athletes, its abuse can lead to potentially serious effects, in particular of a cardiovascular nature: acceleration of the heart rate (tachycardia), heart rhythm disorders (arrhythmias), hypertension and, in some cases, sudden cardiac death. “The ‘more is better’ philosophy, when applied to caffeine consumption in sport, can result in side effects that outweigh the benefits in performance terms. “, indicates the document.

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In some cases, athletes can use a mixture or a cocktail of substances to improve their performance and their interaction can also prove to be extremely dangerous. According to the study, “all doping substances present risks and their use as medicine should only be authorized on medical prescription to treat a medical condition, when no therapeutic alternative is available and in accordance with the requirements of the therapeutic use exemption. Depending on dose, duration of use and interaction with other substances, the consequences can vary and, in some cases, be fatal. »

From a cardiovascular point of view, this bad habit can cause sudden cardiac death and arrhythmias, atherosclerosis and heart attacks, high blood pressure, heart failure, and blood clots. “Athletes should be aware that natural supplements and substances are not necessarily safe and should only be used if recommended by nutritionists. It is essential to use products with recognized and approved quality standards. », concludes the study. It should be noted that in France too, ANSES has already published an alert on this subject, following the reporting of several adverse effects. of a cardiovascular nature.

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