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Nutritional Aids. By Nora, Leah, Justin & Taylor. Introduction. Many athletes use dietary supplements as part of their regular training or competition routine, including about 85% of elite track and field athletes. 

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nutritional aids

Nutritional Aids

By Nora, Leah, Justin & Taylor

  • Many athletes use dietary supplements as part of their regular training or competition routine, including about 85% of elite track and field athletes. 
  • Supplements include vitamins, minerals, protein, amino acids, creatine, carnitine and caffeine.
  • Often used without a full understanding of the potential benefits and risks associated with their use.
  • Are they necessary for athletes? What are the risks?
vitamins minerals
Vitamins & Minerals
  • Many athletes take nutritional supplements in doses up to 1000 times the Dietary Reference Intakes.
  • In general, vitamin and mineral supplements have not been proven to improve training or performance.
  • Negative Side-effects:
    • Illness
    • Tissue damage
    • Vitamins can be toxic when taken in excess

Over 90% of vitamin supplements on sale are synthetic.

  • Nutritionists recommend food first because it provides a wide variety of vitamins and minerals and other dietary factors that are not found in supplements.
  • The body is better at breaking down these natural foods than synthetic supplements.
  • Supplements can be beneficial only when the athlete has a clear deficiency
    • Pregnant women
    • Adults over 50
    • Vegetarians
protein and amino acid supplements
Protein and Amino Acid Supplements
  • Protein and amino acids are an essential component of any balanced diet
  • Supplements used to increase muscle mass, strength and endurance
  • Some studies show that amino acids enhance the growth hormone insulin
  • Too much protein can cause your body to have toxic effects due to too much urea, which leads to loss of water
  • This dehydration can cause cramps and decrease your abilities in sport.
are amino acid supplements effective
Are Amino Acid Supplements Effective?
  • Used for short-term, high-intensity exercise.
  • Found in skeletal muscle and is where the rapid production of ATP takes place, which provides immediate energy.
  • When phosphocreatine stores are depleted, creatine supplements are taken to refill and increase the content in skeletal muscle.
  • Consuming carbohydrates can increase the uptake of creatine by more than 50%.

Creatine does not improve the bodies maximum force, it allows the body to maintain a high-intensity exercise longer.

  • There is a limit that can be reached and the excess is excreted from the body.
  • Improvement is only obvious during sprint exercises during running, swimming, and cycling.
  • Synthesized in the kidneys and liver and stored in skeletal and cardiac muscles.
  • Found in living cells that is used to transport fatty acids to the mitochondria during the breakdown of lipids for the generation of metabolic energy.
carnitine cont d
Carnitine Cont’d
  • Theorized to be a super fat burning substance but that has never been proven
  • Carnitine supposedly decreases lactate production, delays fatigue, increases VO2, spares glycogen, and induces the loss of body fat.
  • Carnitine deficiency is not a concern for athletes as adequate levels remain in muscle tissues during exercise.
carnitine s importance

Carnitine’s importance

  • Carnitine is important for the muscle because it:
  • Improves the efficiency or production of ATP with oxygen
  • Reduces the need for anaerobic glycolysis
  • Can result in a 44% reduction of Lactate production.



Potential diuretic effect which could cause dehydration, nervousness and irritability

Can enable athletes to go beyond safe physiological limits by delaying fatigue

Risk of drug dependency

  • Can increase performance during prolonged endurance and short-term intense exercise
  • Increases alertness and reduces fatigue

Urinary caffeine limit: more than 3 cups of coffee before a competition

do athletes need supplements
Do Athletes Need Supplements?