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Taking nutritional supplements for sports could affect your heart

We like to enhance our sports performance. An adequate training plan and diet are determining factors, but not the only ones. With a balanced diet and plenty of fluids, it would be enough to maximize physical performance. However, there are athletes who opt for the nutritional or dietary supplements.

Supplements to improve physical performance can have many ingredients, such as vitamins and minerals, proteins, amino acids and herbs, in different amounts and in many combinations. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), these products are on the market in various forms, including capsules, tablets, liquids, and powders.

However, nutritional supplements taken to improve athletic performance may have heart risksaccording to a statement from the European Association for Preventive Cardiology published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

“Some nutritional supplements, including various plant and natural extracts, may pose a serious health risk and athletes may even be at risk of contravening anti-doping regulations,” the document says.

cardiovascular effects

Specialists say that sports players are often unaware of their effects in sports performance and general health.

For this reason, the European Association of Preventive Cardiology recommends being clear about some key concepts: a natural supplement is not necessarily a safe supplement; use products from established manufacturers with known good quality standards; and be responsible for any substance they consume.

The position paper outlines the cardiovascular effects during sports from performance-enhancing drugs, prescription and over-the-counter drugs, legal performance-enhancing supplements, and experimental drugs. And put some examples and figures. Anabolic androgenic steroids are estimated to be 6 to 20 times higher than in clean athletes, and around 30% of these deaths can be attributed to cardiovascular causes.

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lawful limbo

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) maintains a list of prohibited drugs, but nutritional substances are not included as many are not regulated or licensed. There are also legal supplements, including caffeine, creatine, energy drinks/gels/bars, beetroot juice, and protein.

“The caffeine it is an excellent example of a natural substance that is considered safe. Although caffeine improves performance, particularly aerobic capacity in endurance athletes, its abuse can lead to rapid heartbeat (tachycardia), heart rhythm disturbances (arrhythmias), high blood pressure, and in some cases, cardiac death sudden,” explains first author Dr. Paolo Emilio Adami of World Athletics, the world governing body for athletics.

In any case, the specialist assures that “athletes must be aware that supplements and natural substances are not necessarily safe and should only be used if recommended by professional nutritionists. It is essential to use products from well-established manufacturers with internationally known and approved good quality standards.” Therefore, it calls for individual responsibility from each of these professionals.

In addition, Adami warns that any consumption must be accompanied by a consultation to a sports doctor or cardiologist.


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