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Saturday, September 03, 2005

Supplements are routine for young athletes

In order to have a better to perfect body, young people tend to take supplements.
Eight percent of girls and 12 percent of boys age 12-18 said they used supplements in pursuit of a better body, according to a survey funded by the National Institutes of Health and cereal-maker Kellogg Co. published this month. For high school athletes in competitive sports, the percentage may be far higher.

“Everybody’s tried them, pretty much,” said quarterback Andrew Davis, surveying the Cordova Lancers weight room, where the team spends at least four hours a week.

Most popular are protein shakes and powders that add calories to fast-growing teenage bodies. They are often blends of whey protein and nitric oxide. Many athletes said they’ve experimented with creatine, a natural substance found in muscle tissue and also in lean meat and fish. All those substances are legal, over-the-counter and easily accessible.

The goal for many high school athletes is to try to get faster and stronger. What’s less obvious to many teenagers and parents is whether supplements are needed to do it.

The Schwarzenegger controversy was the result of the governor and body-builder having close ties to the nutritional supplement industry at the same time he vetoed a bill that could have hurt it. Schwarzenegger has long defended his own use of such products.

“Wherever I am, I have food supplements. That’s part of me. I just happen to believe in it very strongly,” he said last month.

But according to Dr. Gary Wadler, a professor of sports medicine at New York University and an expert on performance-enhancing drugs, actually most of them do not need those supplements because they are not suffering from a typical disease that need something (the supplement).

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