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Realize | Recognize | Reduce

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Supplement Connect is USADA’s dietary supplement safety education and awareness resource. While USADA has a long history of working to improve dietary supplement safety, the reality is that the use of dietary supplements can be risky, and that awareness and caution must be exercised when considering their use. If you’re looking for a quick answer, then USADA recommends you use only supplements certified by NSF Certified for Sport® as the way to best reduce your risk.

While no resource can protect you completely, Supplement Connect will help you gain a better understanding of the dietary supplement issue by covering the topics below:

NSF supplement risk gauge

Dietary supplements are regulated in a post-market fashion, which means that no regulatory body approves the accuracy of the label or safety of the contents before they are sold to consumers. As such, no dietary supplement can be guaranteed to be 100 percent risk-free. If athletes choose to use supplements despite the risks, USADA has always recommended that athletes use only dietary supplements that have been certified by a third-party program that tests for substances prohibited in sport. USADA currently recognizes NSF Certified for Sport® as the program best suited for athletes to reduce the risk from supplements.

For more information, visit our Athlete Advisory and NSF FAQ.

Click the buttons below to find out how you can Realize, Recognize, and Reduce your risk from supplements:




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the simple truth: Decoding the Dietary Supplement Industry

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At first glance, dietary supplements look the same. They seem safe and healthy, but just because the label says a product is a dietary supplement, that doesn’t mean it’s safe. Unfortunately, you can’t tell whether a product is safe or not just by looking at the label. Most vitamins, minerals, fish oil, and other supplements containing nutrients are probably just fine, but supplements are not evaluated or approved by FDA before they are sold. Although it is rare for vitamins or minerals to be contaminated with drugs, there has been at least one case of a vitamin containing an anabolic steroid.

At the other extreme are products that contain drugs, stimulants, anabolic steroids, or other hormones. Even though these are not technically dietary supplements, many of them are labeled as supplements. For example, body-building products sometimes contain anabolic steroids or Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators, known as SARMs, or other hormones. Some pre-workout or energy products contain illegal stimulants like DMAA, ephedra, or other amphetamine-like stimulants. Weight loss products might contain prescription drugs like sibutramine, or hormones, like human chorionic gonadotropin, also known as hCG. All natural or herbal sexual enhancement products might contain hormones or Viagra-like drugs. Products like these can harm your health and career, but they’re for sale online, in some nutrition stores, and they’re labeled as dietary supplements.

When you pick up a supplement, especially one that promises performance enhancement, you don’t know if it belongs in the “Mostly O.K.” pile or in the “Dangerous” pile. After all, two products might look the same, but one might contain just amino acids and other legitimate ingredients, while the other also contains anabolic steroids. Because of this, FDA has issued a warning about certain categories of supplements: body building products, weight loss products, and sexual enhancement products. Be extremely careful when considering a supplement in one of these categories. We strongly recommend that you avoid products in these categories.

Even when FDA tests supplements and finds dangerous ingredients, companies sometimes refuse to recall them. Sometimes, they simply repackage their product and continue selling it under a new name. Just because a product is on a store shelf doesn’t mean it is safe. You need to do your research and be an informed consumer. The dietary supplement industry is enormous. Supplements that appear to be safe could actually be dangerous products in disguise. If you use dietary supplements without doing your research, you may be taking serious risks with your health and your career. Please visit USADA’s Supplement 411 for more information about dietary supplements.