Over the counter nutrition supplements can contain banned substances

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POSTED: Sunday, September 2, 2012 - 6:00am

UPDATED: Sunday, September 2, 2012 - 6:04am

Athletes succeed due to their size, their strength and their drive, but some turn to supplements to keep their bodies performing at their best.

The problem is that many do it without knowing the consequences.

"I would be concerned as a parent," said Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association deputy director Wade Labecki.

Ten Menominee High School players this summer learned the lesson the hard way.

Labecki says the players were suspended for three games after taking a product called Cellucore that promised bigger muscles, faster.

What the players didn't know is the product contains Synephrine, which is banned by the WIAA, the NCAA and the NFL.

"This product has been associated with many problems where there is no blood flow, like stroke, like heart attack, like ischemic gut, things that no one wants," said Dr. Greg Plotnikoff, Abbott Northwestern Hospital.

Plotnikoff says there is no evidence that proves products like Cellucore actually work.

Lifetime Fitness' registered dietician Anika DeCoster says she believes supplements like vitamins can be beneficial filling in nutritional gaps.

"Our population, we're not really eating what we're designed to eat," she said.

Still she warns power-promising products may not deliver the bigger, buffer body consumers were promised.

Decator says before you put anything in your body, read the labels and do your research.

"There's unique ingredients that make people feel bloated or make people feel stronger and it's not necessarily doing anything. That's where I tell people when you're first getting into this stick with the core products because if you're getting enough protein and enough strength training in you're going to get and see those results," she said.

Labecki says what happened in Menominee happens too often with young athletes and he hopes others will learn from it.

"We're worried about the competitive edge that somebody might gain by using some of these supplements and some of these products, but it's also we're worried about the growing, developing adolescent body and the long term effects that this stuff might have," he said.

The football players bought Cellucore at a GNC.

GNC said in a statement all customers are responsible for knowing what they are buying.

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