How Can NCAA Athletes Know if Supplements Are Backed By Reputable Science?

By: Oliver Catlin

Image of Vitargo Muscle Glycogen study

If the supplement science doesn’t stack up, don’t take it.

The first task of any student-athlete should be to study your supplements. It’s the most important assignment of the year because it could improve or degrade your body, performance, and wallet. This subject area requires you to become a bit of an expert.

Supplements start with ingredients, so do some digging into what is in a product to see if the ingredient has been proven to be effective. You can refer to the BSCG Dietary Supplement Ingredient Advisory List for a black list of ingredients to avoid. You can also look for branded ingredients, as these often have more published research on safety and efficacy.

Some brands put finished product formulas through studies that demonstrate the claims they are making. This is a sign that a brand has put more science and thought into a formula.

Read the label

According to the FDA, supplement manufacturers need to list all the ingredients in a product on the label along with the appropriate amount of each in terms of weight. That said, if the ingredients are part of a proprietary blend – the specific amount of each ingredient in the blend does not have to be listed, only the total. That’s not to suggest that any product with a proprietary blend should be shunned. The specific combination might be so unique it needs to be kept a secret.

However, transparency is always the gold standard when considering supplements.

If it sports as many all-natural ingredients as possible. Box ticked.
If it has a track record based on clinical studies with real-world results. Box ticked.
Third-party seals. Box ticked.

Anything less, and you may be taking your body to the casino. A place where the house always wins. And you lose.

Supplement Facts panel on Vitargo product
Read the label

Show me the science

Before a supplement brand shows you the money, ask them to show you the science.

If they are using ingredients that have clinical studies that support the effectiveness and safety of the ingredients, they will be happy to share. If not, that is usually a bad sign.

Understanding the science behind the product will help you make a critical decision about whether the supplement is a good fit for you, whether you are representing the brand or just buying a product.

Science-based studies and reviews are the only reliable sources to back up the claims made by supplement companies. The better the research, the better the product. Good science can help you make good decisions about supplements.

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