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Vitamin Supplements Don't Work, Potentially Dangerous

No place in healthy diet

Well-meaning parents and coaches, who advise youth athletes to take dietary supplements in an effort to promote early athletic development, improve performance, or to provide nutrition "insurance" are, unfortunately, misinformed. Simply put, there is no place in the diet of a healthy child for megadoses of vitamins, minerals, or other ergogenic aids (dietary supplements that supposedly enhance performance above levels anticipated under normal conditions).

Supplements don't work

  • Dietary supplements do not "speed up" a child's growth and development.

  • Eventual maturity and athletic ability do not depend on how early the child begins adolescence.

  • There is no scientific evidence that mega doses of supplements improve athletic performance, give athletes a competitive advantage or compensate for a lack of training or natural athletic ability.

Dangers of supplements

  • The full short- and long-term impact of dietary supplements (vitamin/mineral supplements, ergogenic aids, and herbs) on young, growing bodies is virtually unknown.

  • Unlike prescription drugs, the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate dietary supplements for safety, effectiveness, potency, or purity.

  • Large doses of vitamins and minerals can actually be dangerous, and growing children and adolescents are at greater risk of experiencing adverse effects.

Supplements encourage bad eating habits

  • Giving children supplements can encourage bad eating habits by leading your child to incorrectly assume that, since his morning pills supposedly provide him with all the nutrients he needs, he is free to eat candy and drink soda instead of cereal and milk.

  • Supplement use can also lead your child to erroneously associate improved performance with whatever supplements she happens to be taking instead of attributing her progress to training, hard work, and a balanced diet.

  • This type of false reinforcement may also lead the youth athlete to try other types of supplements and substances (such as drugs and steroids), creating a snowball effect with potentially disastrous consequences.

Healthy well-balanced diet best

The key for the young athlete, as for all athletes, is to consume a wide variety of foods from the Food Guide Pyramid to obtain the many different nutrients the body requires for optimal growth, development and performance. They can't be found in any one food or supplement.

To help your child resist any pressure to take supplements, you need to:

  • Emphasize how regular foods promote muscle growth and optimal performance

  • Reinforce your child's confidence in eating "ordinary" foods

  • Help your child keep a record of what he eats, when and how hard he trains, and improvements in his performance, which will both allow you to attribute improved athletic performance to good dietary and training habits instead of a pill or powder and empower your child to exert control over his athletic performance as well as all areas of his life.

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