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Nutritional supplements

Recommendations on the use of nutritional supplements (SUPs)

Quite a number of athletes, male and female alike, believe that they can only satisfy their special nutritional needs for energy and nutrients by nutritional supplements. We do strictly advise against using supplements for this purpose solely. Because what is true for poisons applies to supplements, too: The Latin proverb „Dosis facit venenum“ means “Only dosage makes the poison” in English.

Too large quantities of nutrients can cause severe side effects. Supplements are made to contain nutrients in enormously high quantities and in an isolated form. Besides, time and again, contaminated supplements are detected. Depending on their origin, prohibited substances are willfully added to these products – with a clear intent to fake – or residues can get into the products during the filling process. If you consume such supplements their prohibited ingredients may lead to an unintended doping-rule violation. That’s why we strongly urge athletes to be extremely careful and prudent when dealing with supplements.

Be critical before taking supplements. If you really do suffer from deficiency signs, go see your doctor and take therapeutically prescribed pharmaceuticals only. These have been strictly checked fulfilling respective legal obligations and controls. For example, ALL medically effective constituents, without exception, must be indicated on the package leaflet.  And all potential side effects have to be indicated, too. Your treating doctor will also determine precisely how your medicine has to be taken to prevent any overdoses. Keep in mind that pharmaceuticals will always be subject to strict quality and purity surveillance. Therefore, before taking supplements, you should always check whether your product has been tested on the presence of prohibited substances by an independent institution. Or whether the manufacturer, at least, can provide a self-disclosure on the purity of its products.

All this can contribute to lessen the potential doping risks that accompany supplement use. But they cannot be completely eliminated.

Supplements belong to the group of foodstuff that is meant to complement your regular diet. Legally, they are foodstuff and, in contrast to pharmaceuticals, as such they do not need to be approved by governmental regulatory health authorities for human use. They have neither been tested for their harmlessness on human health nor for the purity of their material composition. According to the German Supplements and Food Labelling Ordinance, all ingredients have to be declared on the label or package, but this is not always the case.

Another important aspect is that regular use of supplements may prepare a gateway to doping abuse. True to the motto „For every ailment there is a cure“ supplement use can form a doping mentality. 

Nutritional supplements in sport


Informationsroschure on nutritional supplements by DOSB with contributions from NADA