Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
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Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
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©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine ( 2007 ) 06 , 337 - 342

Review article
Supplement use by Young Athletes
Jill Anne McDowall 
Author Information
Department of Family and Nutritional Sciences, University of Prince Edward Island, Canada

Jill Anne McDowall
‚úČ Dietitian, Nutrition Consultant, Sessional lecturer for the Department of Family and Nutritional Sciences, University of Prince Edward Island, Canada.
Email: jam@pivotalnutrition.ca
Publish Date
Received: 13-03-2007
Accepted: 18-07-2007
Published (online): 01-09-2007
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ABSTRACT

This paper reviews studies of supplement use among child and adolescent athletes, focusing on prevalence and type of supplement use, as well as gender comparisons. Supplement use among adult athletes has been well documented however there are a limited number of studies investigating supplement use by child and adolescent athletes. A trend in the current literature revealed that the most frequently used supplements are in the form of vitamin and minerals. While health and illness prevention are the main reasons for taking supplements, enhanced athletic performance was also reported as a strong motivating factor. Generally, females are found to use supplements more frequently and are associated with reasons of health, recovery, and replacing an inadequate diet. Males are more likely to report taking supplements for enhanced performance. Both genders equally rated increased energy as another reason for engaging in supplement use. Many dietary supplements are highly accessible to young athletes and they are particularly vulnerable to pressures from the media and the prospect of playing sport at increasingly elite levels. Future research should provide more direct evidence regarding any physiological side effects of taking supplements, as well as the exact vitamin and mineral requirements for child and adolescent athletes. Increased education for young athletes regarding supplement use, parents and coaches should to be targeted to help the athletes make the appropriate choices.

Key words: Nutrition, sport, adolescent athletes, dietary supplement


           Key Points
  • Supplement use among the child and adolescent athlete population is widespread with the most frequently used supplement being a form of vitamin/mineral supplement.
  • The effects of supplement use on the growth and development of children and adolescents remain unclear and thus use of supplements by this population should be discouraged.
  • It is likely that there is a misunderstanding as to the role of vitamins and minerals in the diet, their function in maintaining overall health, their role in athletic performance, and how they are best obtained from the diet therefore further education for adolescent athletes and athletes in general is needed.
 
 
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