Skip to Main Content

Chapter Objectives


After reading this chapter, the student should understand the:

  1. Legal premise of herbal supplements.

  2. Legal parameters of medically prescribed ergogenic aids.

  3. Risk factors associated with the use of herbal and ergogenic aids.

  4. Rationale for consuming sports drinks.

  5. Use of amino acids and proteins in an athlete's diet.

  6. Types of diet and nutritional changes that athletes might try to enhance their performance.

Because more athletes are now looking for ways to enhance their performance through chemical means, sports-governing organizations are implementing more regulations regarding the acceptability of supplements. Companies such as Twinlab and General Nutrition Center have discovered a potential market in athletes, resulting in more and more "natural" supplements appearing on the natural foods shelf. These new natural supplements are marketed toward athletes, promising that the body will be stronger and faster, and will endure exercise longer, when these supplements are taken regularly. Buchanan and Lemberg estimate that up to 18 percent of Americans regularly use herbal products for medicinal purposes. Americans spend over $3 billion annually on natural supplements, and it is projected that this will increase by approximately 10 percent each year.7 Reportedly, athletes are more eager to use supplements than their nonathlete peers.52 Obviously, this is a market niche where natural supplement manufacturers can generate a great deal of income. The United States Congress, realizing the impact of supplements on the consumer market, conducted an investigation of the supplement market in the early 1990s. In this government investigation it was determined that supplements have a potential to be hazardous to health. Since that time, numerous laws have been enacted in an attempt to safeguard the public health.

This chapter is divided into two sections. The first section deals with "natural" supplements, and the second section addresses the ergogenic aids sometimes used by athletes. There will be some crossover in the coverage of the two sections because some ergogenic aids are natural substances and some natural supplements have alleged ergogenic properties. As you read this chapter, try to keep in mind the interrelationship between these two concepts. Additionally, so far in this book we have been discussing prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications. In this chapter we introduce the concept nutraceutical, a relatively new term that has been circulating since the mid-1980s. A nutraceutical, as the term is used by natural drug manufacturers, is any dietary or nutritional supplement used for general health benefits.43 This definition may be suspiciously close to the vitamin or the natural supplement concept, but as one looks at the methods by which nutraceuticals are marketed, it is apparent that the manufacturers intend for athletes to use their products in performance enhancement.

The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act

The United States government passed a law in 1994 that allows a company to promote a natural substance with claims of improved function ...

Pop-up div Successfully Displayed

This div only appears when the trigger link is hovered over. Otherwise it is hidden from view.