Researchers posing as 15-year-old high school football players wanting to increase their muscle strength phoned 244 chain and local health food stores in the U.S. and asked sales clerks what supplements they would recommend. If the sales clerk didn't mention creatine or testosterone boosters, the "student" specifically asked the clerk about them.
As reported this month in
According to the researchers, teenagers commonly get information about muscle-enhancing supplements from so-called health food stores, like GNC and the Vitamin Shoppe, who advertise their sales clerks as "expert[s] in health and wellness products" and "knowledgeable, courteous, and extensively trained Health Enthusiasts ready to help with all your health and wellness needs." No one has actually tested these claims of expertise however, and this study indicates they don't know what they are talking about.
There is little research on the effects of adolescent creatine use. These researchers note that anecdotal evidence suggests creatine may impair hepatic and renal function, cause compartment syndrome and cause dehydration and muscle cramps, although other research refutes the dehydration effect. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Sports Medicine recommend against creatine use by those under 18.
Testosterone boosters are herbal or synthetic supplements that purportedly increase testosterone levels in the bloodstream by inducing the body to produce more testosterone or inhibiting the conversion of testosterone to estrogen. (Creatine is one ingredient in some testosterone booster supplements.) In adults, testosterone boosters can cause
As if these weren't enough worries, workout supplements are sometimes
"it appears that most herbal ingredients either lack effect when studied in human subjects or quite simply, have not been studied in a clinical trial [for increasing circulating testosterone]. Hence, there exists no concrete evidence to support their use."
The authors of the Pediatrics article suggest that state laws should be enacted preventing the sale of these muscle-boosting supplements to minors. While bills have been introduced in a few states, none have passed.
The real problem is the