Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012 Jun 19;9(1):28. doi: 10.1186/1550-2783-9-28.

Consumption and biochemical impact of commercially available plant-derived nutritional supplements. An observational pilot-study on recreational athletes.

Author information

Department of Health Sciences, University of Rome "Foro Italico", Piazza Lauro de Bosis 15, 00194, Rome, Italy.



A growing consumption of natural (plant-derived) dietary supplements with ergogenic aims, with particular regard for ecdysteroids, phytoestrogens and vegetal sterols, has been registered over the last years among "recreational" athletes. The present study was carried out in order to evaluate the real knowledge of plant-derived nutritional supplements among physically active people as well as their real consumption. Additional aim was to evaluate the effects of these supplements on the health profile of the users.


Twenty-three trained subjects who habitually used natural dietary supplements, and 30 matched controls were analyzed for plasma biochemical markers and hormonal profile.


The laboratory tests revealed the absence of any sign of organ toxicity/damage in both athletes and controls. On the contrary, hormone profiles revealed marked alterations in 15 (65%) out of the 23 of investigated athletes. Specifically, 10 males presented increased plasma levels of progesterone, 15 subjects presented abnormal estrogen levels, including 5 (2 F and 3 M) presenting a "dramatic" increased estrogen values and 2 two males with increased estrogen levels, increased testosterone levels and associated suppression of luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone.


The results of the present study highlighted that the habitual consumption of plant-derived nutritional supplements is frequently associated with significant hormonal alterations both in male and female subjects. Although these biochemical alterations were not associated with signs or symptoms of organ toxicity/damage at the moment of the study, it cannot be excluded that, in the mid/long-term, these subjects would suffer of health problems secondary to chronic exposure to heavily altered hormonal levels. Further large scale studies are needed to confirm the results of this pilot study as well as to investigate the biological mechanisms at the base of the observed hormonal alterations.

PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for BioMed Central Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center