Athletes are competitive. They go out there to win. But, at all costs? Why are athletes willing to sacrifice their long term health in order to have one outstanding season? Will it be worth it when they are hooked up to machines in order to stay alive? Many athletes do not think that taking a supplement will harm them. They are strong, tough athletes, nothing can harm them, right? So, they start taking creatine or andro, or both. For most, they lose body fat, gain strength and muscle. That sounds great, but that is not always what happens. The use of over-the-counter sports supplements is dangerous and the FDA should take them off the shelf.

Supplements are supposed to be taken to make up for a deficiency in some aspect of a person’s diet. For example, if someone does not like milk and does not eat any foods that contain calcium, they could take a calcium supplement. But, athletes use supplements to lose body fat and gain muscle and strength.

Once favored primarily by gung-ho body builders, products that purportedly add muscle and increase strength are now being snapped up by weekend athletes hoping to stay in top form, as well as older adults wanting to stay toned and healthy as they age ("Drugs" 8).

These sports supplements are not being used correctly, and this causes problems down the road for users.

There are different types of supplements. Creatine monohydrate, generally known as creatine is a popularly used supplement. Creatine occurs naturally in muscles, but many athletes or body builders take it to increase their strength and size. When using muscles, a chemical called ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate) is broken down into ADP (adenosine DI-phosphate) and an inorganic phosphate. The release of the phosphate is what gives the muscles energy. Creatine, the naturally occurring kind, or the kind that comes in a jar, combines with phosphate and can restore ADP back to ATP. Theoretically, this means more energy. But it does not come without a price.

The manufacturers and advertisers for Creatine tell people they should use the product because muscles contain an average of 3.5 to 4 grams of naturally occurring creatine per kilogram of muscle. They say the good news is that up to 5 grams may be stored. So, by using their product, you can use your full potential of muscle energy ("Creatine" 1). Basically what the company is telling you is to pay an outrageous amount of money to add 1 gram on creatine to your muscles. Also, taking creatine has many side effects, just as other supplements do. This is because this type of creatine is pure. The body gets its natural creatine from red meat. But, red meat is not one hundred percent creatine. The body cannot handle the potency of this supplement.

Androstenedione (Andro) is a hormonally based supplement that is supposed to help weight lifters add muscle. Andro is taken orally and goes to the liver. The liver destroys most of what is ingested, but what does survive combines with various enzymes and temporarily boosts testosterone levels. This boost in testosterone allows an athlete to perform at a level above what he usually does. "Androstendione is an honest-to-goodness steroid and a precursor to testosterone" (Gorman 246). If an athlete takes andro before he goes to the gym, he will be able to lift more, and thus increase strength and size. Although it is not legally considered an anabolic steroid at this time, andro acts exactly as they do. "Many endocrinologists insist that the differences between supplements like androstenedione and traditional steroids (which are legal only for certain medical conditions) are trivial" (Zorpette 22). In Canada a prescription is needed to get andro, but in the US it is an over-the-counter drug (Sibbald 1). If they essentially have the same effects, then one should not be illegal and the other legal. "The American College of Sports Medicine says anabolic steroids such as androstenedione as well as other ‘dietary supplements’ should be reevaluated and considered drugs" (Sibbald 1). Taking steroids is known to cause many health problems. Yes, they do make people better athletes, but they are illegal and athletes should not use them.

DHEA is a supplement in the same "family" as