Supplements and Dietary Methods of Interest for Treatment of Health Conditions That Restrict Sport Performance among College Athletes

Article excerpt


A survey was used to examine incidence of selected health conditions (upper respiratory infections (URI), cold, flu, and mononucleosis (mono), and gastrointestinal (GI) distress) and interest in supplements and dietary methods to boost immunity and relieve GI distress among 145 college athletes (89 males, 56 females). Pearson c(2) was used to evaluate differences in frequency distribution of responses by sex. URI were experienced by 36(70 of athletes, 26(70 had GI distress, and significantly more females (70(70) than males (47171) had cold, flu, or mono that had restricted sport performance. Significantly more females were interested in supplementing with Echinacea (1817) females, 3(7c males) and vitamin E (30%, 6%) and increasing dietary intake of Vitamin C (61%, 30%) and vitamin E (39%, 18%) to boost immunity. Whereas interest in supplements for reducing GI distress were similar between sexes, significantly more females than males reported an interest in reducing dietary intake of fat (27%, 7%), citrus (14%, 4%) and tomato products 11%, 2%) for GI distress relief. Because the practices of supplementing and using dietary manipulation can alter an athlete's health status, it is important that health educators discuss with athletes supplements and dietary methods that may compromise their health status.

The supplement industry is a $19 billion business and a major economic force (Hawes. 2003). An estimated 70% of Americans use herbal remedies and dietary supplements to promote health (National Nutritional Foods Association, 2005). Dundas and Keller (2003) reported that 62% of college students use multivitamin supplements, most commonly to improve health and prevent colds or flu. Eldridge and Sheehan (1994) reported that among college students, regular users of supplements believe that the supplements increase energy, were needed if people feel tired and run down, and that Vitamin C could prevent colds. Among college athletes, there are numerous health conditions that can restrict sport participation Worris. Rameriz, and Van Durme, 2004; Dallam, Jonas, and Miller, 2005). For example, high volume and/or high intensity training can temporary suppress the immune system (Smith, 2003). A J-shaped relationship between training Volume and infection susceptibility has generally been Viewed to exist (Shepard. 2000; Smith 2003), that being as training Volume increases, immune functioning improves but subsequently declines as chronic high intensity high Volume training occurs. Because competitive athletes are at risk for compromised immune function, they may be interested in methods to boost their immune system or otherwise reduce their risk of health conditions that restrict sport performance.

Male and fernale athletes may have different interests for taking supplements. Froiland and colleagues (2004) reported that male college athletes took supplements to improve speed and agility, strength and power, and gain weight, whereas females were more likely to take supplements for health purposes. Few studies have investigated use of supplements and dietary practices by competitive athletes to treat health conditions that restrict sport performance. The objectives of this study were to: (a) identify the incidence of selected health conditions, namely upper respiratory tract infection, cold, flu. and mononucleosis, and gastrointestinal distress and reflux, that had restricted sport performance among college athletes, (b) identify interest to use supplements and dietary practices to boost immunity and reduce gastrointestinal distress (in an effort to treat the selected health conditions), (c) and identify sex differences for supplements and dietary practices of interest among college athletes. Supplements were defined here as nutrient supplements (vitamin or amino acid derivative), metabolic enzymes (coenzyme Q10), herbal supplements (Echinacea), extracts (papain), and over-the-counter medications (antacids) that are used with the intent to treat specific health conditions (Burke. …