East Jefferson General Hospital

The June issue of Muscle & Body Magazine tackles a subject that many parents with teenage athletes are facing or may be facing soon. It is whether supplements should be used as part of their child's fitness plans and if so, which ones may be safe. The author, as do I, cautions all parents to get educated on supplements and the repercussions they may have on their teenager. That research should start with their physicians and team trainers prior to starting a supplement.

The author also points out that there is a general lack of research as to the effectiveness of supplements on those who are under 18 years of age. However, this topic is important because as the pressure to succeed at younger ages intensifies, your teen may want to incorporate supplements to give them that extra edge.

It is not to say that all supplements are harmful, as some may safely promote healthy recovery from workouts and help avoid muscle breakdown. Also, know that supplements are vastly different than steroids that are illegal and should be avoided completely. The author notes the following top five supplements that you may want to consider for your teen:

Creatine – may be important for muscle contraction and the delaying of muscle fatigue after intense workouts.

Protein Powder – notes that protein can be good for building healthy bones, muscles and connective tissue. In addition, protein powder can supply protein without the fat that can come from eating meat.

Meal-replacement Powders, Bars and Ready-to-Drink Products – high in vitamins and minerals, these can be good alternatives to sugary snacks and fast foods.

Arginine – may boost blood flow that is essential for the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to muscles.

Multivitamins/Multimineral – most teenagers don't always eat consistently healthy, balanced meals. Multivitamins can give them the nutrients they traditionally don't receive through their diet.

As to this list of supplements the author references, I do question the use of arginine and creatine in children younger than 18. For more comprehensive information, parents can refer to my book, Lean and Hard, the Body You Have Always wanted in 24 Workouts. The book gives excellent background on whey protein and creatine along with other supplements used with physician approval.