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Supplements and Regulations

by Michelle Cesa


Knowledge is key when it comes to supplement use. We put a lot of trust into the supplements we consume, sometimes more than food itself. With the plethora of supplements on the market, taking a second look before purchasing can better the supplement choice we make. Supplements do not have strict regulations and protocols as do prescriptions or over-the-counter medications. These are proven effective though research or clinical trials and have known side effects, whereas supplements have little known side effects and are only regulated if the company decides to have an outside entity verify its safety and effectiveness for consumption.

To enable you to make the best-informed choices, I have two questions you should ask yourself before purchasing any supplements.

1. Has the supplement been verified for safe use (third party tested)?

The majority of the supplements on the market today are not verified or checked by an outside entity for safety and effectiveness. Over 80% of adults, including the athletic population, purchase and use supplements. Noted in a review by Martinez-Sanz et al. (2017), “more current is the study by Judkins et al. in which, of the 58 supplements analyzed, 25% contained low levels of contaminating steroids and 11% were contaminated with stimulants” (Martinez-Sanz et al., 2017, p. 2). Supplements with unknown ingredients in them could cause health issues, and for athletes being drug-tested, this could put a stop to your career if an illegal substance is found.

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Third party tested supplements ensure:

  1. All ingredients listed on the nutrition label are in the supplement, and no other harmful elements are within the supplement. Other harmful elements include pesticides, herbicides, toxins, and intentional adulterants (illegal or harmful substances).
  2. The amount of each ingredient and the potency matches what the label states. If a label has incorrect information, an individual could be consuming less than what is effective for their body to utilize or consuming too much of one ingredient. In the over-consumption case, this could lead to negative health effects.
  3. The capsule will be broken for the body to absorb the supplement. Some capsule does not dissolve or break down so the nutrients cannot be used by the body.
  4. And lastly, 3rd party tested supplements ensure sanitary and controlled practicing protocols.

2. WHY are you seeking supplements?

Take a look at the overall quality of whole foods and types of products you are consuming. If you seem to be lacking nutrients, try adding them to your diet from whole food sources first. Supplements can be vitamins, minerals, botanicals, and herbal products - all of which are to aide in your health if lacking the proper amounts of essential nutrients each day. Keep in mind that supplements are an aide for an already healthy dietary pattern. Incorporate healthier foods within your diet to ensure proper intake of nutrients, and if an aide is necessary then take a 3rd party verified supplement. When looking for a dietary aide that is not only for proper nutrient intake, but for athletic performance and recovery, these supplements should be 3rd party tested as well. So, who exactly is a reliable 3rd party entity for clean and safe supplements?

Below is a list of 3rd party entities that check various supplement brands for illegal substances, effectiveness, and verify the list above for safe use.

Look for these labels.

When shopping for supplements make sure that one of these third-party testing companies are included on the label. Always do your research or look up your favorite brands to see if they are in fact verified safe to use without risking harmful substances within them.

How can you best apply this information?

  1. Check supplement brands and labels for a 3rd party testing verification label. Look for NSF International, Consumer Labs, USP, Informed Choice or Informed Sport, or BSCG Certified Drug Free.
  2. Do your research on supplements you want to take with your balanced dietary habits, and find which best fits your needs and will in fact help your recovery and performance.
  3. Share your knowledge with a teammate that needs to hear this!

Work hard, train hard, and reap the benefits of superior nutrition!

Not a particular endorsement for Muscle Milk but their products do carry the NSF certification.

Martínez-Sanz, J. M., Sospedra, I., Ortiz, C. M., Baladía, E., Gil-Izquierdo, A., & Ortiz-Moncada, R. (2017). Intended or Unintended Doping? A Review of the Presence of Doping Substances in Dietary Supplements Used in Sports.  Nutrients,  9(10), 1093. doi:10.3390/nu9101093

About the Author: Michelle Cesa is a Graduate Student and Dietetic Intern through Keiser University studying Nutrition. She will be graduating in September and is planning to be a licensed dietitian by the end of the year. One of her career goals is to become a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics. She enjoys staying active, helping people, and trying new food. Want more help? Feel free to reach out to Michelle for help with meal plans or other nutritional information!

That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness. VT Signature

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