Do Muscle Building Supplements Have Side Effects?

Taking muscle building supplements can be tempting but it's important to understand potential side effects before starting any supplement regimen.

Do Muscle Building Supplements Have Side Effects?

Taking muscle building supplements can be a tempting prospect for those looking to gain an edge in the gym. But before you start popping pills, it's important to understand the potential side effects of these products. Short-term side effects of pre-workout supplements can include cramps, headaches, anxiety, high blood pressure and chest pain. Pre-workout supplements usually contain large amounts of caffeine, with some containing up to 400 mg of caffeine, the equivalent of approximately four cups of coffee.

Your friend from the gym may be raving about the bodybuilding products they've been taking to help build muscle mass and strength, but are they safe to use? The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found that some bodybuilding products may illegally contain steroids or steroid-like substances associated with potentially serious health risks, including liver injury, which can be life-threatening. The FDA has received hundreds of reports of adverse events, including those showing evidence of serious liver injury. The FDA has found many of these bodybuilding products labeled as “dietary supplements” both online and in retail stores. However, many of these products are not dietary supplements at all; they contain undisclosed or unproven ingredients and are new drugs that are not approved and illegally marketed.

The agency did not review the safety, efficacy, or quality of these products before these companies began marketing them. These potentially harmful, sometimes hidden, ingredients in products promoted for bodybuilding remain a cause for concern. The companies that make these products are breaking the law by exploiting an easily accessible market to bring these products to consumers. In the end, it's consumers who may not understand the risks who put themselves at risk by taking dangerous ingredients from products that are touted as having miraculous results or by making empty promises.

Some people who use bodybuilding products engage in “stacking”, which is when a person uses two or more bodybuilding products at once (including stimulants or products that provide false guarantees of liver protection) to improve results or “gains”. These combinations may increase the risk of consumers experiencing serious and potentially fatal reactions. In addition to issuing warning letters, the agency may take other regulatory actions, as well as compliance actions against sellers of these illegal products. However, this can be difficult, especially when sellers are operating exclusively online.

Company names or websites are often easily changed, or products can be re-labeled to evade authorities and defraud. The FDA encourages consumers and health professionals to report adverse events or serious side effects related to the use of these products to the FDA's Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program (MedWatch) or the safety reporting portal. The supplement market is flooded with products that are often marketed by untrained vendors, with little or no discussion of potential side effects. In addition to the monetary cost of supplements, which may be prohibitively high for some, the side effects can be serious and, in some cases, permanent. Always consult a medical provider before starting a new supplement regimen.

Your healthcare provider will be able to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of supplementation with you in a more equitable manner and possibly offer you safer alternatives. Despite claims that certain supplements can help build muscle mass and strength quickly, it's important to note that supplements aren't regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and it can be difficult to distinguish which ingredients are actually beneficial. Desperation, overenthusiasm, aspiration to achieve overnight results, peer pressure, and unrealistic expectations can lead a person to try various “bodybuilding products”. Creatine is the most popular of these substances, believed to improve muscle mass and help athletes achieve bursts of strength. However, manufacturers warn users not to take the supplement if they are women, men under 21, or if they are at risk of certain health conditions such as high blood pressure, depression, and heart, kidney or liver disease. In their quest to run farther, jump higher and survive competition, many athletes have turned to a variety of performance-enhancing drugs and supplements.

If you are taking any bodybuilding product that claims to contain steroids or steroid-like substances, the FDA recommends that you stop taking it immediately because of the potentially serious health risks associated with its use. These supplements may contain ingredients such as DHEA and selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs). Health experts say it's a good idea to be wary of any supplement that claims to be successful in weight loss, body and muscle development or sexual enhancement. The most common reasons they cite for taking supplements include the desire to improve overall health, maintain health, prevent health problems and boost immunity. The National Library of Medicine notes that most Americans already consume more protein than is needed to build muscle. Some of these bodybuilding products are too high in protein and could damage your kidneys forever. Sign up for Consumer Update email notifications so you can stay informed about potential risks associated with taking muscle building supplements.

Before starting any supplement regimen it's important to understand both the advantages and disadvantages so you can make an informed decision about what's best for your health.

Joshua Nessner
Joshua Nessner

Evil food guru. Typical twitter scholar. Incurable web enthusiast. Award-winning beer advocate. Travelaholic.

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