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Safety of gym supplements

Aug 23, 2023Aug 23, 2023

By Zaid Aboobacker

KUWAIT: The dietary supplement industry has experienced significant growth in recent years, driven by the increasing number of young people engaging in fitness activities. Popular supplements like creatine, pre-workout and protein powder have gained immense popularity. However, it’s important to acknowledge the dark side of this industry, where some supplement manufacturers have been caught engaging in deceptive practices. Numerous protein supplement manufacturers have been exposed for providing false information about the sodium content in their products.

A study conducted by Labdoor revealed that over 90 percent of the protein supplements they tested contained excessive amounts of sodium. Additionally, some companies inflate their amino acid counts by adding low-grade amino acids like taurine and glycine, which are not effective in stimulating muscle protein synthesis. This misleads consumers. In Kuwait, there have been instances of small gyms producing their own protein powder and other supplements underground. These products may not be registered with the ministry of health, and there is a lack of regulation for online purchases.

Dr. Mohammed, a pharmacist with 20 years of experience in Kuwait, highlights this issue. Furthermore, the FDA places the responsibility on manufacturers to assess the accuracy of product labels and safety. Similar concerns emerged from the Clean Label Project’s investigation into protein products. They analyzed 134 protein products and found that 55 percent had higher levels of BPA, a known carcinogen. Additionally, 75 percent of these products tested positive for the heavy metal lead. Interestingly, products with egg as a protein source were found to be cleaner, while plant-based protein sources were more problematic.

Thus, it’s crucial to verify the credibility of third-party sources before consuming supplements. Turning our attention to a younger demographic, a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health compared the use of dietary supplements marketed for weight loss, muscle building or energy to the use of vitamins in people aged 0 to 25. The study identified 977 reports of adverse events linked to a single supplement in this age group. About 40 prcent of these cases resulted in serious medical consequences, including hospitalization and death.

Compared to vitamins, supplements marketed for weight loss, muscle growth, and energy carried nearly three times the risk of serious medical consequences. According to Dr Bashar, a pharmacist in a leading supplement store in Kuwait, the side effects of mislabeled and unidentified ingredients in supplements can range from allergic reactions and diarrhea to headaches. Another pharmacist, Dr Awadh added these unidentified ingredients may even lead to liver and kidney damage and potentially contribute to cancer development.

Regarding pre-workout supplements with high caffeine content, they can sometimes induce a deceptive response or a placebo effect. A study published in The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that both caffeinated and non-caffeinated multi-ingredient pre-workout supplements failed to improve force production in participants. Additionally, when individuals engaged in resistance training couldn’t distinguish between a fake pill and a genuine supplement, their exercise performance remained similar.

Schyler Caniamaso, a former regular consumer of high-caffeine pre-workout supplements, shared his personal experiences of adverse effects, including disrupted sleep patterns, caffeine addiction and increased caffeine tolerance. Some experts recommend prioritizing the fundamentals of training, nutrition, and sleep. Disa Hatfield, an associate professor at the University of Rhode Island, emphasizes that unless you can affirmatively answer to all these aspects, supplements should not be your primary focus.

In conclusion, this article does not aim to discourage the use of supplements but underscores the importance of consuming them cautiously and adhering to safe dosages. Multiple studies reveal that some businesses mislead consumers about their products. In Kuwait, there are regulations in place for supplements sold in physical stores, but many people purchase them online or from countries with lax regulations in an attempt to save money.

By Zaid AboobackerKUWAIT: