The Truth about Supplements and HGH.

March 25, 2010
by Justin

There is no question that steroids has lived amongst us for several decades now, but it is only within the last decade has it finally hit the mainstream media. Athletes trying to gain a competitive edge by taking performance enhancers or PEDS, apparently date back as far as 776 B.C.  (Read for yourself). While according to the same article the first confirmed incident of Steroid use dates as far back as 1954 at the World Weight Lifting Championships. Since then, there has been scattered cases of abuse but none as concentrated as the last ten years.  Unfortunately, baseball has been linked to many of these cases and because of it governing bodies are doing everything they can to sift out the abusers in the system. Unfortunately there have been some instances where some athletes are wrongfully accused or have been subject to questionable testing practices. While others have been able to avoid testing all together. Albeit, at the end of the day fans, athletes, teams, and leagues have a heighten sense of usage of PEDs amongst athletes in sports today.

Human Growth Hormone, otherwise known as HGH, has been one of the main culprits in this new age of steroids. It is a protein based poly-peptide hormone in which it stimulates growth and cell reproduction and regeneration in humans. Its abuse has been exposed primarily in Major League Baseball while skeptics doubt it is limited to just one sport, but rather has spread too many sports around the world.

In its role as an anabolic agent, HGH has been used by competitors in sports since the 1970s, and it has been banned by the IOC and NCAA. Traditional urine analysis could not detect doping with HGH, so the ban was unenforceable until the early 2000s, when blood tests that could distinguish between natural and artificial HGH were starting to be developed. Blood tests conducted by WADA at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece primarily targeted HGH. It was these efforts which paved to the way to what is believed not to be valid testing of HGH in the blood stream.

As of November 2009, the first professional athlete was tested and found guilty of HGH usage. Terry Newton, a British rugby player, tested positive and did not contest the results. He was banned from the sport for 2 years by the United Kingdom Anti Doping Agency. This in turn has fueled the fire for MLB to implement HGH testing into its normal practices. But until now there had not been a reliable screening process for HGH. With baseball under heavy pressure from media and fans to clean up its act if this new test proves to be valid, MLB could see new testing procedures implement with in a short time. Since the height of the steroid era Bud Selig has used the minors as his platform for introducing new testing practices, which he set to begin HGH testing later this year. This is due in large part because most of the players in the minors are not associated with the players union. He has already announced his intention to begin testing and is now moving forward with getting union approval to implement HGH testing in Major League Baseball.

With this new found sensitivity of performance enhancers there is also a spill over affect into the sensitivity of dietary supplements. This has become a source of a much heated debate about what the disclosure laws enforced by the FDA should be. As it stands now, supplements are not considered a drug and are not subject to FDA approval. Instead it is treated as a food. This in part means that you as a consumer are not informed by what is printed on the label as to EXACTLY what ingredients go into the very supplement you are about to take are. So in theory you could take an approved supplement, or something that is not on the NCAA or IOC/WADA banned substance list, but test positive for a banned substance because it was one of the ingredients in the production of that supplement. According to the UC San Diego Athletic Nutrition Guide, a recent study of 600 supplements, found that 28% of the supplements tested in the United States had banned substances in them with no disclosure on the label.  There was even much debate with the new health care bill that was passed to include a provision requiring supplements to have full disclosure. Although I have not been able to conclude whether or not the bill has past, John McCain has spearheaded “The Dietary Supplement Safety Act of 2010” , it appears that there is an attempt in congress to provide consumer protection with respect to dietary supplements. But until we have full disclosure how do you know what you can and can not take legally in order to achieve optimal performance?

Now some sites will suggest any combination of the following supplements will allow for you to reach optimal performance; Multivitamins, Glutamine, Vitamin B, Creatine Monohydrate, BCAA, Whey Protein, Caffeine, Vitamin E, Flax Seed, Fish Oils, and/or Glucosamine Sulfate. Since I am not a Doctor of any kind, I do not work for any agency with any scientific knowledge about these supplements, all that I can do is tell you my story and my experiences. First, you should know that you must consult a doctor and highly recommend speaking with a nutritionist. The must important thing you need to know about reaching optimal performance is not what you take and how much but rather maintaining a balanced diet. Eating 6 meals a day every 2 1/2 to 3 hours with each meal providing a balance or vitamins, minerals, carbs, and proteins is essential. The biggest reason for this is to maintain a balance in your blood sugar levels. It will affect your concentration, energy levels, strength, and focus. All essentials for optimal performance. Preventing fatigue is important when training and having the proper supply of energy when you are looking to push yourself in training is necessary to avoid in a plateau affect. Now if you must take supplements to push your body and get the most out of your training I can not urge you enough to not only consult your doctors and a nutritionist but also do some leg work and research what substances are banned in your particular sport. If you play in High School sports check with the NFHS, if you play in college sports check with the NCAA, NAIA, or NJCAA and so forth. The safest bets are implementing some type of combination of Multi Vitamins, Vitamin B, Whey Protein, Flax Seed, and Fish Oils into your daily diet. I use to take Creatine Monohydrate and although it worked it certainly had some drawbacks. Because it helps in the retention of water in the muscles you get an “inflated affect” and your muscles more or less artificially grow. The moment you stop using creatine you will find your muscles will “deflate”. In addition, often when athletes take the annual physical prior to the season, users often test positive for heart murmurs and which would inevitably prevent them from participating in their respective sport until the heart returned to its normal rhythm. Mind you we do not have any scientific data to support these statements; we simply presented them from our experiences as Student Athletes. Finally, another reason to stay away from Creatine Monohydrate is that it is our belief that this could shortly become a banned substance under the NCAA and other governing bodies.

Knowing what you know now, we present the question to you, what role does supplements play in your life and what affect do you see them playing in sports today?

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