Athletics and persons involved in body building often use body building supplements to replace meals, promote weight loss, improve athletic performance and enhance weight gain. These dietary supplements contain stimulants and steroids and provide a way to achieve muscle gain and weight loss. They are found over the counter and offer instant solution. However, most of these bodybuilding products are unhealthy, and are made with synthetic ingredients and sweetened with chemicals. They have adverse and irreversible health impacts. The key to using any type of bodybuilding supplement is that it has to be followed with strict diet and exercise regimen. Bodybuilding supplements provide the body with much needed nutrients and aid in muscle repair when taken in a proper way. Mindless and irrational use of bodybuilding supplements cause side effects. Some of the side effects of these ingredients are listed below:
Effect on nervous system
Body building supplements affect our nervous system and cause irreparable damage. Aspartame is a common ingredient in protein drinks, it is toxic and causes nerve damage. When consumed, it breaks down into formic acid and formaldehyde. Formic acid is an irritant, it has minor effects but the problem is with formaldehyde. It causes widespread nerve damage. It damages the optic nerve, brain cells, and the nerve cells that control body movement. Anabolic steroids cause interference with the central nervous system leading to aggressive and violent behavior. It has been found that caffeine also affects the central nervous system. Caffeine consumed in moderate amount rarely leads to health risks. Whereas higher doses of caffeine induce negative effects such as anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and tachycardia. These effects are seen primarily in a small group of individuals who are caffeine sensitive. Some supplements containing aconite and colloidal silver cause serious neurological damage. Bodybuilding supplements like kava and country mallow cause mitochondrial disorders leading to seizures tremors, delayed response and dementia.
Stimulants and dietary supplements may promote body sculpting, but they produce risks and cause irreversible damage. Researchers have proved that consuming coffee in high dose increases the risk of stroke. Dose matters. Cola and tea, drinks containing less caffeine than coffee, don’t increase risk. Some weight loss supplements cause mitochondrial disorders and cause stroke in women before the age of forty. Dietary supplements like country mallow and bitter orange cause transient ischemia leading to stroke. Some supplements contain nitric oxide which causes palpitation if used for a short term but induce stroke when used for a longer period.
Bodybuilders often use anabolic steroids. Most of the over-the-counter products contain these controversial drugs. Although dangerous, steroids effectively and safely increase body weight and body mass they cause considerable damage to the muscular system. They increase anger scores. These steroids when used for a long time often cause parkinson’s disease. In the long run, some supplements weaken the muscles and cause exercise intolerance and cramps. Anabolic substances like creatine, arginine and beta-alanine which are used by body builders to build muscle cause stomach and muscle cramps. At times they have adverse effect on the skeletal system which supports these muscles. Creatine show some temporary benefits like pronounced muscles but once the body builder stops taking creatine, the muscles disappear and the person may experience stomach disorders like diarrhea, dehydration and kidney stress.
Bodybuilding supplements cause many side effects but the cardiac impacts are profound. Scientific reports prove that people using steroids often show changes in cholesterol count. Steroids enhance bad cholesterol and reduce good cholesterol. They increase blood pressure, enlarge the ventricles and change the heart structure. These effects lead to permanent damage and cardiac arrest. Calcium which is an essential ingredient of bodybuilding supplements can cause heart damage. Scientists found that a single dose of Advantra Z and Xenadrine EFX increase the heart rate by 18%. Supplements containing bitter orange cause irregular heartbeats. Supplements containing colloidal silver, chapparal and aconite have fatal effect like damaging the heart permanently. It is important that body builders check the ingredients before using the supplements.
Water retention and weight gain
Creatine, an effective drug for high intensity training and aerobic activities cause water retention and weight gain if used for a longer period. It is an osmotically active substance, it helps muscle cells absorb water and increase protein synthesis. Muscle fibers grow but there is lot of water retention and it is all water weight. Creatine occurs naturally in amino acid found in meat and fish, but is often taken as a supplement by body builders and athletes. Individuals taking these supplements may experience weight gain.
Low sexual drive
Ideally steroids being anabolic and androgenic substances, should create a higher sex drive and more stronger erections since they increase testosterone levels. These body building supplements also increase the metabolic rate. But researchers prove that they lower the sexual drive, they cause low libido and weak erection because they inhibit the secretion of natural testosterone. Prolong use of steroids cause impotency. Body builders using androgenic supplements have permanent breast growth, hair loss, shrunken testicles and infertility. It causes deepened voice, enlarged clitoris, excess body hair growth and baldness in women. Natural supplement like yohimbe found in some body building supplements cause erectile dysfunction.
Cancer experts warn people that bodybuilding supplements cause cancer and do not prevent cancer. There is a general misconception that taking vitamin supplements can prevent cancer. Scientific research refutes this idea. Supplements containing ingredients like coltsfoot and comfry often mixed with herbal products are carcinogenic. They cause cancer of the alimentary canal and liver. Antioxidant nutritional supplements, like vitamins C and E if taken in high doses, increase genetic abnormalities in the cells, which may lead the supplement takers to develop cancer. Continuous use of vitamin E cause prostate cancer in men.
Supplements containing ingredients like germanium and chaparral cause kidney damage. Some supplements with calcium cause kidney stones. Women taking calcium supplements mostly develop kidney stones. Sometimes overdose of a particular drug damage the kidney quickly. But most kidney problems happen slowly starting with frequent urination. These supplements cause silent kidney disease for months and years. Gradual loss of kidney function ends up with permanent kidney failure. Chronic kidney disease also brings with it a high risk of death from stroke or heart attack. Some supplements cause fanconi’s syndrome i.e absence of essential metabolites in the urine. Mostly weight loss supplements are diuretic, though they cause temporary weight loss but in due course they damage the kidney. Whey protein often used by athletes cause kidney damage.
Supplements containing ingredients like coltsfoot, comfry, germanium and celandine cause serious liver damage. These supplements cause liver injury in a number of different ways like acute hepatitis or dysfunction of the liver. Some patients experience abdominal pain followed by loss of appetite. Some people react to these supplements severely like rapid liver failure. The damage is dose-related like in kava, a supplement used for sedation. Higher the dose, acute is the liver damage. Doctors have found that green tea extracts prepared with alcohol and other ingredients, cause elevation of liver enzymes and liver damage.
Most of the body building supplements have high sugar content. It is also observed that these supplements do not have natural sweeteners rather they have chemical sweeteners which not only increase the sugar level in the blood but also damage the organs. Supplements containing yohimbe can cause serious diabetic problems. Diuretic weight loss supplements also cause type 2 diabetes. Chemical sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin and sucralose found in body building energy bars or drinks should be avoided at all costs, and only products sweetened with natural sweeteners such as stevia should be consumed by any person concerned about their health.
Our bodies’ processes speed up with hyperthyroidism and slow down with hypothyroidism. Our thyroid gland also acts as a built-in, natural thermostat, it regulates our body temperature and controls our body weight. Abnormal immune system causes thyroid dysfunction. It is believed that herbal and natural supplements can cure thyroid problems but scientists have found that body building supplements having some herbal and natural products cause thyroid dysfunction. Supplements with ashwagandha, bladderwrack and panax ginseng cause thyroid dysfunction. These herbs stimulate and make the thyroid overactive thereby making the problem worse.
Apart from the above mentioned side effects, these dietary supplements also cause glaucoma, menstrual disorders, acne and skin disorders. Some supplements if not used in a proper way may also cause paralysis of the respiratory system. Some people use injection forms of the steroids they are at an increased risk for viral attack such as HIV and hepatitis. Bodybuilders should be cautious about the bodybuilding supplements and their side effects.