supplements, sports

The following table lists some of the common ways athletes and bodybuilders attempt to get strength and endurance on the cheap, so to speak, by drug supplements. These substances carry varying degrees of risk of significant medical side effects and are not recommended for teenage (or any age) athletes. Tell your adolescent's doctor if he (or she) is taking any of these substances.
drug/supplement action side effects
creatine brief, intense increase in muscle strength liver or kidney problems in high doses
androstenedione a testosterone precursor; boosts testosterone levels for about three hours. causes same side effects as testosterone: acne, mood swings, liver damage, heart attacks, stunted growth
erythropoetin synthetic hormone that increases red blood cell production can cause thickening of the blood with risk of heart attack or stroke
human growth hormone promotes muscle growth and fat loss stimulates excessive bone growth, big hands and feet, bulging forehead, jutting jaw
insulin promotes entry of glucose and amino acids into muscle cells hypoglycemia - coma, seizures

 Androstenedione - "andro" - is a steroid hormone produced by the gonads and the adrenal gland; it is the immediate precursor of testosterone. Inside the body, andro is converted into testosterone by the liver and promotes muscle growth. Testosterone levels remain elevated for about 3 hours after ingestion of supplemental andro. Long-term androstenedione use by adolescent males could lead to premature closure of growth plates and stunted ultimate height growth from this excess testosterone. The AAP position statement on anabolic steroids (to include androstenedione), states that the Academy "continues to condemn the use of anabolic steroids for bodybuilding or enhancement of sports performance."

 Creatine is an amino acid supplement that supports muscle function. It is also controversial, but experts agree that its potential adverse effects probably are less serious than those of androstenedione. Research strongly suggests that short-term creatine supplementation enhances an athlete's ability to maintain power output during maximal bouts of exercise like sprinting and weight lifting. However, it is not known what happens when long-term creatine supplementation is stopped, and we don't know if, when the person stops consuming the supplement, the body will upregulate back to where it was before the supplemental creatine was started.

There is a searchable internet database of accumulated scientific studies on all dietary supplements from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Strangely, neither creatine nor androstenedione appear in the keyword database. Go figure.

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