The Importance of Informed Choices: Sports Supplements and Vitamins Go Far Beyond 'Expensive Urine'

30th June, 2023

A recent article by ABC Hobart raised concerns about the risk of additives in sports supplements such as protein powders, pre-workout powders, and vitamins. This sceptical view challenges the efficacy and safety of these products.

Scientific research suggests that certain supplements can enhance performance, aid in recovery, and help achieve athletic goals when used appropriately.

Scientific research suggests that certain supplements can enhance performance, aid in recovery, and help achieve athletic goals when used appropriately.

However, providing accurate information and dispelling misconceptions regarding health-related products is crucial. Complementary Medicines Australia aims to address these concerns and present a more balanced perspective on sports supplements for Australian consumers.

Misconception: Sports supplements are unnecessary and provide no real benefits

Contrary to this belief, sports supplements can be valuable for individuals who engage in physical activities or sports. Scientific research suggests that certain supplements can enhance performance, aid in recovery, and help achieve athletic goals when used appropriately. However, it is important to consult healthcare professionals or accredited sports dietitians before incorporating them into one’s routine.

Misconception: Sports supplements are unregulated and potentially unsafe

The Therapeutic Goods Administration regulates sports supplements in Australia for safety and quality. Products that make therapeutic claims undergo rigorous testing and must meet specific standards set by the TGA. Reputable manufacturers often voluntarily submit their products for testing by independent third-party organisations such as Informed-Sport or NSF Certified for Sport to provide additional quality and safety assurance. Consumers are advised to choose products that have undergone such scrutiny and possess the necessary certifications to ensure reliability.

Suppliers of sports supplements in Australia are also encouraged to check WADA’s 2023 World Anti-Doping Code International Standard Prohibited List in conjunction with the Therapeutic Goods update on 1 March 2023.

The TGA urges manufacturers, sponsors, retailers, and advertisers of sports supplement products to review the 2023 Prohibited List against their product range and take necessary action to ensure compliance with the law. The TGA routinely monitors the advertising of sports supplement products, tests them for scheduled and prohibited ingredients, and takes action against non-compliance, including issuing infringement notices and seizing inappropriate goods.

Education and Awareness

It is important consumers understand the specific supplement they intend to use. Research the ingredients, dosages, and potential side effects associated with the product. Reliable sources of information include reputable scientific publications, registered sports dietitians, and official websites of governing bodies such as the Australian Institute of Sport.

Quality and certification

Look for products tested by trusted independent organisations like Informed-Sport or NSF Certified for Sport. These certifications indicate that the supplement has been tested for prohibited substances, providing an added level of reassurance.

Professional guidance

Seek advice from qualified healthcare professionals or accredited sports dietitians who can assess individual needs and recommend suitable supplements, if necessary. They can also help ensure that any considered supplements align with overall health goals.

While it is essential to be cautious and well-informed when considering sports supplements and vitamins, it is unfair to dismiss them as mere “expensive urine.” Many high-quality Australian supplements, when used responsibly, can contribute to the overall well-being and performance of individuals with specific dietary needs or athletic goals.

By making informed choices, seeking professional guidance, and relying on reputable brands, individuals can optimise their supplementation strategy and experience the potential benefits of sports supplements and vitamins.