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Athletes Have More Info Than Ever to Make Smart Supplement Choices

I love watching the Olympics—learning about countries we rarely hear about, celebrating individuals overcoming significant obstacles, and watching breathtaking athletic feats. During the Games, along with most major sporting events, the topic of athlete nutrition also pops up in the news, and with it, the topic of dietary supplements. Unfortunately, the news about supplements is often tainted as the products are blamed for failed drug tests. What’s exciting as we watch these games is that athletes today have more tools than ever before to make smart supplement choices.

Last summer, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) convened a three-day panel to discuss the use of dietary supplements, their effects on athletes’ health and performances and the risk of contamination and anti-doping issues. The panel stated that “Benefits from the use of supplements and sports foods may include convenience and provision of a known amount of a key nutrient, as, for example, in the use of protein supplements after training with the aim of promoting training-induced adaptations in muscle and other tissues,” but it also cautioned that a risk-benefit analysis should be undergone before taking a supplement (read the full opinion paper here). And, all athletes competing in the Olympics must adhere to the World Anti-Doping Agency list, which does include some supplements.

And, just under two weeks ago, NSF International launched its new Certified for Sport app. The app is a digital encyclopedia of supplements and athletes and general consumers can scan the barcode or UPC on any given supplement and check if it’s NSF-approved, as well as compare its ingredients to other options. The MLB, NHL and Canadian Football League players are only allowed to take Certified for Sport supplements and the program is strongly recommended by the NFL, PGA and LPGA.

My hope is that our industry continues to prove that sound nutrition is the goal as it offers tools to help athletes and all consumers make sound choices. That’s an outcome that’s medal worthy for all.

In good health,


Traci Kantowski is Trust Transparency Consulting’s Communications Director