Sports Supplements
Athletes are competitive. They go out there to win. But, at all costs? Why are
athletes willing to sacrifice their long term health in order to have one
outstanding season? Will it be worth it when they are hooked up to machines in
order to stay alive? Many athletes do not think that taking a supplement will
harm them. They are strong, tough athletes, nothing can harm them, right? So,
they start taking creatine or andro, or both. For most, they lose body fat, gain
strength and muscle. That sounds great, but that is not always what happens. The
use of over-the-counter sports supplements is dangerous and the FDA should take
them off the shelf. Supplements are supposed to be taken to make up for a
deficiency in some aspect of a person’s diet. For example, if someone does not
like milk and does not eat any foods that contain calcium, they could take a
calcium supplement. But, athletes use supplements to lose body fat and gain
muscle and strength. Once favored primarily by gung-ho body builders, products
that purportedly add muscle and increase strength are now being snapped up by
weekend athletes hoping to stay in top form, as well as older adults wanting to
stay toned and healthy as they age ("Drugs" 8). These sports supplements are
not being used correctly, and this causes problems down the road for users.

There are different types of supplements. Creatine monohydrate, generally known
as creatine is a popularly used supplement. Creatine occurs naturally in
muscles, but many athletes or body builders take it to increase their strength
and size. When using muscles, a chemical called ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate) is
broken down into ADP (adenosine DI-phosphate) and an inorganic phosphate. The
release of the phosphate is what gives the muscles energy. Creatine, the
naturally occurring kind, or the kind that comes in a jar, combines with
phosphate and can restore ADP back to ATP. Theoretically, this means more
energy. But it does not come without a price. The manufacturers and advertisers
for Creatine tell people they should use the product because muscles contain an
average of 3.5 to 4 grams of naturally occurring creatine per kilogram of
muscle. They say the good news is that up to 5 grams may be stored. So, by using
their product, you can use your full potential of muscle energy ("Creatine"

1). Basically what the company is telling you is to pay an outrageous amount of
money to add 1 gram on creatine to your muscles. Also, taking creatine has many
side effects, just as other supplements do. This is because this type of
creatine is pure. The body gets its natural creatine from red meat. But, red
meat is not one hundred percent creatine. The body cannot handle the potency of
this supplement. Androstenedione (Andro) is a hormonally based supplement that
is supposed to help weight lifters add muscle. Andro is taken orally and goes to
the liver. The liver destroys most of what is ingested, but what does survive
combines with various enzymes and temporarily boosts testosterone levels. This
boost in testosterone allows an athlete to perform at a level above what he
usually does. "Androstendione is an honest-to-goodness steroid and a precursor
to testosterone" (Gorman 246). If an athlete takes andro before he goes to the
gym, he will be able to lift more, and thus increase strength and size. Although
it is not legally considered an anabolic steroid at this time, andro acts
exactly as they do. "Many endocrinologists insist that the differences between
supplements like androstenedione and traditional steroids (which are legal only
for certain medical conditions) are trivial" (Zorpette 22). In Canada a
prescription is needed to get andro, but in the US it is an over-the-counter
drug (Sibbald 1). If they essentially have the same effects, then one should not
be illegal and the other legal. "The American College of Sports Medicine says
anabolic steroids such as androstenedione as well as other ‘dietary
supplements’ should be reevaluated and considered drugs" (Sibbald 1). Taking
steroids is known to cause many health problems. Yes, they do make people better
athletes, but they are illegal and athletes should not use them. DHEA is a
supplement in the same "family" as andro, called prohormones. DHEA also
raises the testosterone levels in the body. There is very little scientific
support of these prohomones. In fact, some preliminary evidence suggests that
they may be counterproductive. In a well-controlled study just published in the

American Journal of the American Medical Association, androstenedione failed to
boost muscle mass, strength and testosterone levels; instead, it hiked estrogen
levels, which could