Coastal Athletic Connection

Langley, Walnut Grove and Surrey's constant source of quality information in the Sports Performance, Strength and Conditioning, and Nutrition fields.

Supplements, Part 1: Are they safe?

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In this post, I am starting a series on supplements, especially as they pertain to sports and athletic performance. In Part 1, I am looking at the regulation of supplements and how to tell if they are safe for you, your child, or your athletes to take.Vitamins, minerals, and supplements were a $32 billion industry in 2012, and that number is projected to rise to $60 billion by 2021. In fact, supplements are as big a market as all organic foods combined, while raking in only 5% of all grocery sales. This shows how high their prices are, and we just keep on spending, hoping for a quick fix or easy solution to our fitness and health goals. However, did you know that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the governing body that regulates all supplements, vaccines, prescription and non prescription drugs in the USA, only spot tests 1% of 65,000 dietary supplements on the market? With these kind of skim regulations going on, it seems risky to even venture out into the high shelves and flashy labels of your local supplement store in hopes of boosting your performance and health. The local store worker definitely seems to know their stuff (I mean they have huge arms!), but with them collecting commission on each purchase you make, how much can they be trusted? With your kid's athletic future on the line, how can you be sure that WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) isn't going to come knocking on your door asking for a urine test?Enter the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) and Informed-Choice. These are two organizations that make it their goal to test supplements and make sure they are given the all clear when it comes to drug testing and screening. Informed-Choice certifies nutritional products and makes sure that what the labels says is in the product is actually in there, as well as making sure these products are banned-substance free. They work closely with WADA to make sure nothing in the supplements are on WADA's banned list (like Santa's naughty list for supplements).
NSF is an independent certification organization that also looks at the ingredients in supplements. In fact, they even created a subdivision, called NSF Certified for Sport, that promises with their label that they have tested the product and it does not contain unsafe levels of contaminants or prohibited substances.
Both of these organizations work with WADA and use their banned list as a guideline for testing and certifying a product. So, when looking for the best supplement to make those massive gains, look past the fancy selling tactics of the buff supplement store dude (or girl),  and make sure it has been certified by looking for one of the labels below. So, whether you are preparing for your rec league hockey tourney, provincial finals, or first professional sports training camp, you can perform your best with peace of mind. For more info, check out the Informed-Choice or NSF website's, which can be found below.
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There is no doubt that the key to reaching the next level is investing time in strength training. There is lots of great coaching out there with opportunities to compete but what is separating those players that playing at the top level is the strength training. When done correctly it is preventing injuries, allowing players to train more often and harder, and providing an edge with explosive movements. They are jumping higher, hitting harder and moving faster. Looking for and edge? There is no doubt that is the way to go.

Ryan Hofer