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Column: My personal warning label

Published: Friday, June 28, 2013 12:27 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, June 28, 2013 12:15 p.m. CDT
Caption
(SVM illustration)
That's the reverse of a jar of N.O. Xplode, with one phrase in the warning magnified.

There will be another Jack3d. And I’m not talking about the revised formula that’s back on the shelves at GNC, the poor man’s methamphetamine known as DMAA having been stripped from its recipe.

What I mean is that there will be another dietary supplement that will cause a user’s heart or liver – pick any organ, really – to fail. In fact, it’s already on the shelf, per the rumblings around the Sauk Valley that athletes have endured organ damage.

Here’s the cold reality: When an organ does fail, the blame must be directed at the (ab)user. With proper usage, that potentially fatal powder wouldn’t need to be feared. But kids are growing up in a fast-food society. They don’t want to get bigger and stronger over the course of a summer lifting program.

They want to be ripped in time to be home for dinner.

So rather than mixing a scoop of the shortcut for hard work into their bottle as directed, they might mix two, three, four scoops. As a result, supplements that already provide an absurd amount of ingredients are doubled, tripled and quadrupled.

Someone needs to step in. While I assume many of you are doing your job as parents, coaches, friends, teammates, etc., that’s a less-than-subtle call to action for those who aren’t being proactive.

You know who would love to step in? The Food and Drug Administration.

But its hands have been tied. The FDA isn’t allowed to protect us from ourselves, to prevent us from overdoing it, whether we’re talking about pre-workout supplements or Vitamin C pills.

About 40 years ago, the FDA announced a plan to regulate vitamin supplements containing more than 150 percent of our daily value. Not only did the powerful vitamin industry thwart the plan, but its executives got into the pocket of Sen. William Proxmire, D-Wis., and he passed a bill to prevent the FDA’s regulation of multivitamins.

The FDA’s reputation as a punching bag for massive companies grew in 1994, when a law passed preventing it from regulating supplements. There were about 4,000 products available then. Today? About 80,000. That’s more of a virus mutating to epidemic levels than it is development of new,  cutting-edge products.

That quick history lesson out of the way, here’s how I really feel: I’m not sure what it says about me or how I’m wired, but whenever I get around supplements, my high-and-mighty reflex kicks in like crazy. But I was also that kid in high school who thought only burnouts drank alcohol.

The common thread: I believe we’re more than capable of being happy, strong and successful without supplements, whether we’re talking about creatine or Coronas.

When reading the contents of supplements, don’t bother with the Rosetta Stone. You won’t be able to pronounce the contents.

And who in the world ever thought it would be a good idea to ingest 2,000 percent of our daily value of B12? I’m looking at you, N.O. Xplode and SCREAM from bodybuilding.com. Most supplements have shown that B12 adds little to nothing to your workout. Cranking in an astronomical amount of it is a classic case of companies trying to convince you that more is always more – and better.

Similarly, N.O. Xplode has “20 DIFFERENT SUBTYPES OF CREATINE” – ALL CAPS FIVE EXCLAMATION POINTS EXTREME!

Ignore the hulking man trying to sell you magic beans. It’s all just creatine. And a dishonest marketing strategy. A lot of people are getting paid a lot of money to craft marketing schemes that overpower any good sense we try to teach kids about their diet.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but I couldn’t put it better than Newman athletic trainer Andy Accardi, who calls supplements a shortcut for hard work.

I know a lot of people simply use the supplements to get their motor humming before they lift. I’ve got an alternative: Go for a jog.

What’s that? You need a recovery drink? Try chocolate milk. It’s nature’s recovery drink. As Dixon cross country coach and former wrestling coach Evan Thorpe points out, it boasts a perfect 4:1 protein-to-carbs ratio.

The bottom line is that there are people out there who need supplements. People with actual deficiencies that can’t be rectified simply with diet. But there’s a chasm between supplementation to cure deficiency and supplementation above normal levels. The latter is how livers get poisoned.

I can’t stop you from taking supplements. Just know that, if the FDA had its way, it would have its warning label expanded to read “Keep out of reach of children, pets AND ADULTS.”

And the more money that’s poured into the tills of big, immoral companies like USPLabs – the creator and defender of Jack3d – the tighter the shackles on the FDA’s wrists become.

Visit the The Naturals main project page: http://shawurl.com/thenaturals

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