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J Sci Med Sport. 2010 Mar;13(2):274-80. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2009.03.005. Epub 2009 Sep 22.

Nutritional supplementation habits and perceptions of elite athletes within a state-based sporting institute.

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Western Australian Institute of Sport, Australia.


The purpose of this investigation was to examine the nutritional supplement intake of athletes from a state-based sports institute. Athletes (n=72) from seven sports (kayaking, field hockey, rowing, waterpolo, swimming, athletics and netball) completed a questionnaire detailing their daily usage and rationale therefore. The large majority (63/72; 87.5+/-12.5%) of surveyed athletes reported using nutritional supplements, with no difference between female (31/36; 86.1+/-13.9%) and male (32/36; 88.9+/-11.1%) athletes. Kayakers (6.0+/-2.9) consumed a higher number of nutritional supplements than swimmers (4+/-2.2), field hockey (1.5+/-1.0), rowing (2.4+/-1.4), waterpolo (2.3+/-2.4), athletics (2.5+/-1.9) and netball (1.7+/-1.0) athletes. The athletes believed that nutritional supplements are related to performance enhancements (47/72; 65.3%), positive doping results (45/72; 62.5%), and that heavy training increases supplement requirements (47/72; 65.3%). The cohort was equivocal as to their health risks (40/72; 55.6%) or their need with a balanced diet (38/72; 52.8%). The most popular supplements were minerals (33/72; 45.8%), vitamins (31/72; 43.1%), other (23/72; 31.9%), iron (22/72; 30.6%), caffeine (16/72; 22.2%), protein (12/72; 16.7%), protein-carbohydrate mix (10/72; 13.9%), creatine (9/72; 12.5%) and glucosamine (3/72; 4.2%). The majority of supplementing athletes (n=63) did not know their supplements active ingredient (39/63; 61.9%), side effects (36/63; 57.1%) or mechanism of action (34/63; 54.0%) and admitted to wanting additional information (36/63; 57.0%). Only half of the athletes knew the recommended supplement dosages (33/63; 52.4%). The performance enhancing perception may explain the large proportion of athletes that reported using nutritional supplements, despite over half of the athletes believing that supplements are not required with a balanced diet and can cause positive doping violations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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