Athletes' supplement use ineffective

Jan. 21, 2010 at 1:50 PM
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MONTREAL, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- Protein supplements, very popular with athletes, don't improve athletic performance or recovery time, a Canadian researcher says.

Martin Frechette of the University of Montreal says his study finds protein and other supplements being poorly used and much misunderstood by both high-level athletes and amateurs.

"The role of proteins is particularly misunderstood," Frechette said in a statement. "Only one out of four consumers could associate a valid reason, backed by scientific literature, for taking the product."

Frechette submitted questionnaires to 42 athletes from a variety of disciplines as part of his master's thesis. Ninety percent took supplements on a regular basis.

"No less than 81 percent of athletes taking supplements already had sufficient protein from their diet," Frechette said.

The researcher found the athletes were mostly unaware the taking of supplements can result in levels of sodium, magnesium, niacin, folate, vitamin A and iron that exceed acceptable norms and make them susceptible to problems such as nausea, vision trouble, fatigue and liver anomalies.

The athletes were also unaware supplements come with other risks.

"Their purity and preparation aren't as controlled as prescription medication," Frechette said. "Sports supplements often contain other ingredients than those listed on the label. Some athletes consume prohibited drugs without knowing."

The study is online at http://hdl.handle.net/1866/3052.

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