Sports supplements are used to enhance athletic performance. They include: vitamins, synthetic drugs and hormones, most of which are available over the counter without a prescription. Some ergogenic aids or sports nutrition products contain androstenedione creatine or ephedra. Non-prescription supplements are not regulated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and doubts remain about thei safety and efficacy.
Anabolic steroids are hormones that enhance muscle growth. Also known as roids or juice, they are similar to the male hormone testosterone. Side effects of taking steroids may include high blood pressure, heart disease, liver damage, urinary problems, blood clots, and insomnia. Men or teenage boys can suffer from infertility and penile dysfunction. Steroids can also cause mood swings, aggressive behavior, irritability, and depression.
Another popular sports supplement is human growth hormone (HGH). Although HGH may safely be prescribed for teenagers with hormone or growth problems, it can be abused in large quantities by athletes for musclebuilding purposes. Which is why several sports organizations (eg. NCAA) have banned it.
Many younger athletes use creatine supplements to boost athletic performance. But in clinical trials creatine has not yet proved it can definitely increase endurance or improve aerobic performance. Side effects of creatine may include seizures or kidney failure.
Several sports organizations have specific policies on the use of certain types of prescription and non-prescription medications, including sports supplements. For example, the National Football League (NFL), the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have banned the use of steroids, creatine, ephedra and androstenedione by their athletes.
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