Supplements in Sports
Drug testing for banned substances is a standard process in high level sports. These tests are often governed by WADA, USADA, NCAA, NFL, NBA, NHL, and many other professional sport organizations. Athletes have unique nutritional needs, in which they often try to supplement with dietary supplements when those needs aren't met nutritionally. However, the supplement industry is largely unregulated, and not all supplements are created equal. Many nutritional supplement companies on the market have been found to contain banned or potentially harmful substances that are not listed on the label. Therefore, it is crucial for athletes to be informed and cautious when buying supplements. These are the important things to look for when buying supplements:
- Safety and quality assurance
Athletes should look for supplements that have been certified for safety and quality assurance. This can be determined by checking for the NSF International certification or the Informed Sport certification on the supplement label. These certifications ensure that the supplement has been third party tested for banned substances, it is accurately labeled, and contains the ingredients listed on the label.
- Science-based ingredients
Athletes should choose supplements that contain ingredients that have been scientifically proven to enhance performance or support recovery. Some popular ingredients for athletes include creatine, beta-alanine, caffeine, protein, etc. These ingredients have been extensively researched and have been shown to be effective in improving performance.
- Dosage and timing
Athletes should follow the recommended dosage and timing of supplements. Overdosing or taking supplements inappropriately can lead to adverse effects or reduced effectiveness. It is important to follow the instructions on the label or consult with a sports practitioner.
Athletes should look for supplements that are transparent about their ingredients and sourcing. The supplement should clearly list all the ingredients, and the source of the ingredients should be traceable. Transparency also includes providing information about potential side effects and interactions with medications.
- Brand reputation
Athletes should choose supplements from reputable brands that have a track record of producing high-quality supplements. This can be determined by reading reviews and checking for certifications such as the NSF International certification or the Informed Sport certification.
All consumers should look for supplements that are certified for safety and quality assurance, contain science-based ingredients, follow the recommended dosage and timing, are transparent about their ingredients and sourcing, and come from reputable brands. By following these guidelines, daily consumers and athletes can choose supplements that are safe, effective and meet their dietary needs.
What is NSF Certification?
NSF International is a third-party certification organization that tests and certifies supplements for safety and quality assurance. NSF certification is important for several reasons:
- Banned substances: NSF tests supplements for over 270 banned substances, including steroids, stimulants, and masking agents. Athletes who are subject to drug testing can trust that a supplement that is NSF certified does not contain any banned substances.
- Accurate labeling: NSF also tests supplements to ensure that the label accurately reflects the ingredients and dosages in the product. This helps consumers make informed decisions about the supplements they are taking.
- Manufacturing practices: NSF certifies supplements based on the manufacturing practices of the company producing the product. This includes annual testing for contaminants and ensuring that the manufacturing facility meets certain standards for cleanliness and safety.
- Consumer protection: By choosing supplements that are NSF certified, consumers can be confident that they are purchasing a product that has been rigorously tested for safety and quality.
NSF certification is especially important for athletes because it provides assurance that the supplement they are taking is safe, accurately labeled, and does not contain any banned substances. It also provides protection for consumers by ensuring that manufacturing practices meet certain standards and that the product has been tested for contaminants.
What is the Informed Sport Certification?
Informed Sport certification is a program designed to ensure that sports supplements and ingredients are free from banned substances and contaminants. The program is run by the global sports doping control laboratory, LGC, and it provides an extra level of assurance for athletes and consumers.
Supplements and ingredients that are Informed Sport certified have been rigorously tested for banned substances using a combination of analytical testing, risk assessment, and batch testing. The program also includes regular facility audits to ensure that manufacturing practices meet certain standards.
The Informed Sport certification is recognized by many sports organizations and governing bodies, including the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Athletes who are subject to drug testing can trust that a supplement that is Informed Sport certified does not contain any banned substances.
Informed Sport certification is important for athletes because it provides an extra level of assurance that the supplement they are taking is free from banned substances and contaminants. It also provides recognition from many sports organizations and governing bodies, which can be important for athletes competing at the highest levels.
Both certifications have great value, and finding supplements that use third party testing such as NSF or Informed Sport will ensure that you are purchasing products that are verified, tested, clean and safe. Consult with a licensed practitioner to understand if supplements are right for you and look for either of these stamps on your next purchase!