Teenagers: Rely on Good Nutrition, Not Supplements!

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My son wants to begin taking an amino acid supplement which he says will help him recover more quickly from his team workouts. He also has been drinking energy drinks. Are those safe for a teenager to be taking? What are the best supplements for a teenager to use?
Sports-supplement use among teenage athletes is a much debated topic and my opinion is to minimize their use while relying on sound diet and training principles to achieve sports goals. Safe use is a must, but the marketing makes tremendous, enticing claims about what their products can do for improving training and recovery. Also consider the path of teenage thinking that if what is recommended is good then, using more must be better. Teenage minds seem to pursue the path of least resistance instead of embracing the challenges of training with a relentless purpose and fueling that training with high performance foods. Too many kids are poorly educated about the importance of good nutrition, what it is and how it can positively impact training – while falling victim to very good advertising from supplement companies.
If your kid wants to use supplements, then the safest and most effective ones are those that are concentrated forms of food. Amino acids fall into this category along with branched-chain animos, protein powders and bars and glutamine. I am of the opinion that their effectiveness is limited though if the student-athlete does not effectively use a good vitamin-mineral supplement, learn to stay hydrated, preferably with water not just sports drinks and get the rest they need for growth and recovery.
Energy drinks are totally unnecessary and deceptive to the user, especially teenagers. Though energy drinks are in wide spread use, I don’t like them because of their drug-like effects and potential dependency from overuse which is a problem for anyone. Prohormones should be off-limits to teenagers. Teenagers are producing so many hormones naturally and changing so rapidly that anything that warps that process needs to be avoided.
Learn, at least the basics, of solid nutritional principles and practice those principles daily. Use supplements as an addition to those good nutritional and training practices. Don’t rely on sports-supplements. Use those that are basically condensed food and avoid hormone altering products and energy drinks. Use a good daily multi-vitamin/mineral supplement, get plenty of rest and drink water instead of using sports drinks as your primary means of hydration.
God bless and keep training,
Daryl

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