The present study examined the prevalence of dietary supplement use among elite figure skaters, gender differences in supplement use, and differences in nutrient intake of supplement users versus non-users. Male (n = 46) and female (n = 59) figure skaters completed a supplement survey and 3-day food records. Descriptive analysis, chi-square test, and independent t tests were used to analyze the data. Sixty-five percent of male (n = 30) and 76% of female (n = 45) figure skaters reported use of supplements. Forty-seven percent of males and 55% of females reported daily use of supplements. Multivitamin-mineral supplements were the most popular dietary supplements consumed by figure skaters. Significant gender differences were observed in the use of multivitamin-mineral supplements (61% males vs. 83% females, p < .05). Echinacea and ginseng were popular herbal supplements used by these skaters. The 3 main reasons given by male figure skaters for taking supplements were: to provide more energy (41%), to prevent illness or disease (34%), and to enhance performance (21%). Among female figure skaters, the 3 main reasons given were: to prevent illness or disease (61%), to provide more energy (39%), and to make up for an inadequate diet (28%). Significant differences (p < .05) were observed in protein, total fat, saturated fat, polyunsaturated fat intakes, and % energy from carbohydrate and total fat of male supplement users versus non-users, with supplement users having higher intakes except for percent energy from carbohydrate. Sodium was the only nutrient significantly different (p < .05) among female supplement users versus non-users, with supplement users having lower intakes. Given the popularity of dietary supplements, it is important to understand the factors influencing athletes’ use of supplements, their knowledge and attitudes regarding supplements, dosage of supplements used, and the effectiveness of these dietary supplements in meeting the goals of the athletes.
P.J. Ziegler is with the Gerber Products Company, 200 Kimball Drive, Parsippany, NJ 07054. J.A. Nelson is with the United States Olympic Committee, One Olympic Plaza, Colorado Springs, CO 80909. S.S. Jonnalagadda is with the Department of Nutrition at Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30303.