How Safe are Sports Supplements?

sport nutrition certificate

Sports supplements have become such a common sight that it’s hard to imagine them as potentially harmful. We pass by nutritional supplement stores while shopping at the mall, we see advertisements on TV, and they’re openly available on the internet from seemingly trustworthy websites like

The truth is that although supplements are packaged professionally and may be sponsored by a famous celebrity, they usually haven’t received FDA approval. While FDA approval isn’t mandatory to market a sports supplement, all manufacturers must comply with FDA guidelines for accurate marketing and labelling. Because supplement regulation is such a grey area, some companies abuse the system by including banned or unlabelled ingredients into their products—many of which can actually have harmful side effects for unassuming users.

If you’re interested in enrolling in sports nutrition courses, read on to find out what it is that makes supplements so risky for consumers.

The Danger of Hidden Ingredients in Sports Supplements

Supplements in health and sport training are often taken in order to increase muscle mass or quickly shed fat. However, what many users don’t realize is that supplement makers often include hidden, unlabelled (and sometimes illegal) performance-enhancing ingredients into their supplements to ensure that they produce results.

A quick look around the internet will reveal a slew of horror stories from unassuming supplement users who have had serious medical reactions to unlabelled ingredients. Out of all the hidden ingredients in sports supplements, steroids are the most common. When mixed with other medication, steroids can be deadly, and prolonged use can cause liver damage and severe high blood pressure.

Major Issues Plaguing the Regulation of Supplements

A large problem facing the regulation of sports supplements is overseas producers. Unregulated supplements imported from China are becoming a growing concern, mainly because the supplements (containing banned ingredients) are snuck into North America through falsely labelled packages.

Additionally, there is a new brand of synthetic “designer steroids” which are designed to be undetectable by drug tests. These designer steroids have no FDA approval, which means their adverse and long-term effects are still very much unknown.

The Bottom Line About Sports Supplements

When it comes to improving athletic performance, graduates of nutrition and health programs know that without FDA approval, taking supplements is a major risk. Like with dieting pills—it’s impossible to expect a “quick fix” without any side effects.  In many cases, sports supplements of any kind are banned by athletic organizations anyway, meaning that taking them is not only a risk to your health, but also a risk to your athletic career.

Are you interesting in earning a sport nutrition certificate? Visit AAPS for more information, or to speak with an advisor.


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