A survey was conducted to examine the source of information and usage of nutritional supplements in 115 male and 88 female varsity athletes at a Division I university. The survey asked each athlete to define supplement, and report supplement use and type, source of information, and reasons for use. Supplement use frequencies were determined, and comparisons were made between gender and sport. Eighty-nine percent of the subjects had or were currently using nutritional supplements. Many athletes did not consider sports drinks and calorie replacement products as supplements. Females were more likely to take calcium and multivitamins, and males had significant intake for ginseng, amino acids, glutamine, hydroxy-methyl-buterate (HMB), weight gainers, whey protein, and Juven. The most frequently used supplements overall were energy drinks (73%), calorie replacement products of all types (61.4%), multivitamin (47.3%), creatine (37.2%), and vitamin C (32.4%). There was also significant supplement use noted per sport. Females were more likely to obtain information from family members regarding supplementation, and males from a store nutritionist, fellow athletes, friends, or a coach. Female athletes were more likely to take supplements for their health or because of an inadequate diet, while men reported taking supplements to improve speed and agility, strength and power, or for weight/muscle gain.
The authors are with the Department of Nutritional Science and Dietetics at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68583-0806.