Springer: Risky business: The science of nutritional supplements

From Stephanie Springer at The Hardball Times on March 26, 2018:

When we think of performance enhancing substances, our knee-jerk reaction is to think of steroids and the other substances explicitly prohibited by Major League Baseball. It’s easy to conflate performance enhancing substances with the prohibited substances lists, but these are two unrelated groups. There are a number of supplements which do not fall under the umbrella of prohibited substances, but might be considered performance enhancing substances.

Supplements claim to do everything from enhancing focus and increasing endurance, to aiding recovery and preventing injury. While there isn’t a lot of rigorous scientific evidence to support these broad claims, there is just enough research to fuel this multi-billion dollar industry, and supplements are becoming increasingly popular with baseball players. They may not carry the threat of an 80-game suspension, but these supplements can pose risks to players’ health, especially for minor league players without significant financial means.

The marketing of dietary supplements is highly dependent upon the timeframe in which a consumer expects to see results. Humans are impatient creatures, and we like to see results fast. When a product markets itself based upon its long-term health benefits, the consumer places a certain amount of uncritical trust into the manufacturer’s claims. There may be clinical research supporting the science behind the products, but long term studies take years to demonstrate long-term health benefits, such as improving heart health or cognitive function. Many nutrition and supplement studies are mechanistic in nature, and study certain biomarkers which are thought to be connected to oxygen flow, inflammation, or an immune response.

Read the full article here: https://www.fangraphs.com/tht/risky-business-the-science-of-nutritional-supplements/

Originally published: March 26, 2018. Last Updated: March 26, 2018.