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n International SportMed Journal - Guide to over-the-counter sports supplements for athletes : review article
Dietary supplements are used by at least 40% of athletes, and depending on the sport, up to 100%. Often multiple supplements are taken in higher than normal doses. Both competitive and recreational athletes take supplements, though sometimes for different reasons. Some take them to support a poor quality diet; others take supplements because they simply feel that an ordinary diet, even a good one, is unable to provide the necessary nutrients in adequate quantity. Female endurance athletes frequently supplement their diet with extra iron, with natural losses exacerbated by hard training, menses and often a low intake of iron-rich red meat. Nutritionists and dieticians usually recommend whole food solutions to these and other problems first, but some are now starting to accept the use of low dose vitamin and mineral supplements as a way to prevent deficiencies.
Dietary supplements can be categorised according to several classifications like type, accessibility, utility or scientific merit. Even if a well-monitored daily diet should allow athletes to meet their nutritional needs, in some cases, the use of supplements can be beneficial to support a high level of physical activity. However, athletes and their medical staff should be aware of potential adverse analytical findings following supplement contamination.
In conclusion, to avoid problems associated with the consumption of dietary supplements, athletes should balance the risks and benefits of these products and consult a nutritionist or dietician for expert advice on the appropriate use of supplements.
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