Supplement Dangers

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Knoxville (WVLT) - So are taking these supplements, a good idea for high school athletes?

Volunteer TV's Allison Hunt spoke with experts about the effects they have on a young person's body.

Doctors say when certain supplements are taken correctly, they can be good for you.

But one of the biggest issues for teenagers is that doctors don't know exactly how the supplements will affect them, because studies have been done on adults, but not on children.

Creatine, whey protein, muscle volumizers, they all enhance an athletes performance to some extent.

"Whey protein is for meal supplements, muscle growth, some of them are for weight loss, the muscle volumizers are for increasing muscle mass, increasing energy and endurance," Bonnie Callais, from Go Nutrition.

They come in powder, liquid and pill form and anybody can take them.

"Male, female, body builders, young people, old people, teenagers," says Callais.

But doctors say a teenage body is still growing and proper diet and exercise is just as, if not more efficient.

"For somebody who still has all the potential in the world to grow, their muscles are still growing and going through that stage, I don't necessarily think they should be jumping into that as first line," says Dr. Eduardo Mendez, from East Tennessee Family Physicians.

Dr. Mendez says although some of these supplements can be good under the right setting, there are harmful side effects.

These include increased heart or blood pressure, nervousness, insomnia and agitation.

But Doctor Mendez says taking some supplements could also lead to side effects in the future such as impotence, diabetes, heart and liver disease and stroke.

"A lot of these side effects will be long term, but you never know who's gonna have that allergic reaction, who's not gonna do well on these," says Dr. Mendez.

Dr. Mendez says it's hard to convince young athletes that you can get good results without "these supplements, some can help, but at the end of the day it still comes down to diet, exercise and just being smart about it."

Another problem is not all supplements are FDA approved, and only some companies test their products, so Dr. Mendez says the label doesn't always accurately list what's inside.

Dr. Mendez says teens may not see some of these effects until they are much older, so he recommends doing research with your teen before you buy the supplements.