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Can body building supplements harm you? What you need to know

The popularity of bodybuilding supplements can be understood by the fact that nowadays, being a competitive bodybuilder is considered to be impossible without taking these supplements. However, there are a number of side effects associated with these supplements including cardiovascular complications, nervous breakdown and renal failure. There are several other ways in which these bodybuilding supplements may make your suffer. This article is an attempt to explore all such side effects of these supplements.

Altered moods and behavior

The anabolic-androgenic steroids are very closely related with the male sex hormone testosterone, in fact, these are just synthetic renditions of testosterone. Recent researches have revealed the fact that these steroids affect brain pathways and chemicals, such as serotonin and dopamine. Long term usage of steroid-based body building supplements can lead to drastic changes in a person’s moods and behaviour. It is very common for people having these supplements to demonstrate anger, irritability and aggression.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), these steroid based body building supplements can even contribute to psychiatric symptoms, such as inflated self perception and severe mania (emotional highs). Additional symptoms associated with these supplements are extreme paranoia, delusions, jealousy and self-perceived invincibility. These symptoms can dampen your judgement, thus, increasing risk for bodily harm and accidents.

Hair, skin and sexual changes

As we have already stated that anabolic-androgenic steroids replicate male sex hormone testosterone, therefore, the steroids even bring about some unwanted sexual changes in the body of the person taking these supplements. The steroid based body-building supplements are known to alter the primary and secondary sexual characteristics. These sexual changes can affect reproductive health, physical appearance and sexual function. According to the experts at Mayo Clinic, as a result of the side effects of body building supplements, men may develop shrunken testicles, enlarged breast and infertility. Similarly, women may develop an enlarged clitoris, deepened voice and excessive body hair. Incidents of delayed puberty are very common in youths who take anabolic androgenic steroids. There are several other changes which can occur in the body, such as men and women having these supplements can develop severe acne and baldness.

Cholesterol problems

The next side effect of body building supplements is associated with the cholesterol levels inside the body. When a person’s cholesterol level is hindered, he’s exposed to a greater risk of developing cardio-vascular diseases. According to the experts at Mayo Clinic, the level of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, also called HDL or “good” cholesterol decreases, whereas the level of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, also known as LDL or “bad” cholesterol increases inside the body of the person having these supplements. Low HDL cholesterol coupled with high LDL cholesterol increases the risk for cardiovascular conditions, such as heart attack, heart failure and stroke. The risk of these effects is far greater for those who have a personal or family history of cardiovascular disease or cholesterol problems.

Creatine side effects

Creatine monohydrate or more commonly known as creatine, is an organic acid which our body produces naturally. Creatine is found in most of the body building supplements and is known to provide bursts of increased energy for use during workouts. It basically absorbs water from the different organs in our body and deposits them into the muscle cell. This can lead to muscle cramps as the other body organs face a deficit of water which eventually leads to dehydration. Another side affect associated with creatine is that it leads to renal problems. Studies have shown that long term usage of creatine transforms kidney stones into ulcers. People consuming more creatine are at an increased risk of developing other complications of kidney. Creatine increases the reproducible rate of tumor cells. It also causes nausea, stomach cramps and other such problems. We will suggest you to consult your doctor before taking supplements having creatine as an active ingredient, especially if you are suffering from nephritic problems.

Stimulant effects

The ingredients in different body building supplements vary, some of them are steroid based, while others are based on stimulants. A number of varieties contain caffeine and herbal stimulants, such as ephedra, guarana or ginseng. The primary function of these stimulants is to boost aggressiveness and increase energy during workouts. The caffeine based supplements are considered to be safe if consumed in moderate amounts, which is ideally 300mg per day. However, in order to obtain more energy for a rigorous workout regime, bodybuilders tend to take large doses of caffeine. This can lead to a number of problems, such as heart palpitation, insomnia, nervousness and diarrhea. Tremors, hallucinations, increased blood pressure, weight loss, convulsions and acute dehydration are other side effects associated with the overdose of caffeine based body building supplements.

Andro supplements side effects

Andro supplements are banned at the Olympics and that is why not many people think positively about them. However, these supplements are not illegal and some people believe that body building supplements having androstenedione as the active ingredient can help in building muscle mass and strength. Andro supplements are known to increase the female sex hormones. When these supplements are taken by men, they decrease the sex drive in them and cause breast growth. Some of the side effects of andro supplements are facial hair growth, baldness and sometimes breast cancer. As a result of the boost in the testosterone levels, sexual dysfunction is also possible. Andro dietary supplements elevate the intercourse hormones in females and at the same time, they can reduce intercourse drive in men. The menstrual cycle in females is also interrupted because of the andro based supplements.

Liver problems and digestive effects

The body building supplements are also known to interfere with the working of liver-an organ which plays a significant role in ridding the body of toxins and in the breakdown of food. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, steroid based body building supplements can hinder the normal functioning of live which can even lead to jaundice. In several cases, liver tumors and other abnormalities related with liver damage are also reported by steroid users. Other than liver problems, body building supplements also lead to digestive ailments. According to the experts at Mayo Clinic, the weight gained by long term consumption of supplements is not because of increased muscle mass, but mostly due to water retention.

Glutamine and nitric acid side effects

Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid which aids in building the muscle tissue. This compound is innately present in our muscles. The consumption of glutamine does not show any serious side effect when taken in moderate amounts. On an average 5-15 grams of glutamine can be taken per day. However, when the consumption of glutamine exceeds the safe limit, then it could result in stomach ailments, manic depression, nausea, body ache, lack of concentration, and often it impacts the mind as well. Similarly, nitric acid also increases the muscle development by offering more nutrients to the skeletal muscles. Mostly, nitric acid based supplements are taken by skilled bodybuilders as they can lead to some serious complications if proper dosage is not taken. Overdose of nitric oxide based body building
supplements causes headache, nausea and migraine. Severe breathing problems, bronchial asthma and weakness can also result as a side effect of these supplements.

Thermogenic supplement side effects

Theromgenic supplements are another class of body building supplements which are very popular among the gym enthusiasts and body builders. These supplements mainly consist of multivitamins and whey proteins. However, excessive dose of thermogenic supplements can lead to behavioural changes, coronary heart palpitation and nervousness. Allergic reactions, kidney stones and liver harm are popular side effects associated with whey protein. On the other hand, overdose of multivitamins causes muscle aches, headaches and dehydration. Similarly, constipation and stomach aches are associated with mineral supplement overdose.

Nerve damage

Aspartame based body building supplements are largely responsible for nerve damage. During digestion, aspartame breaks down into two chemical compounds namely formic acid and formaldehyde. Formic acid is the same chemical which is produced by fire ants and acts as an irritant. You will certainly don’t want that this chemical ends up in your bloodstream. However, formic acid is not the bigger problem here, its formaldehyde which poses more serious threats. Formaldehyde is a preservative but this does not imply that you will stop aging after taking aspartame based supplements. EPA has listed formaldehyde as an environmental toxin which is held responsible for widespread nerve damage in humans. It shows adverse effects on the entire nervous system, including brains cells, optic nerve and the nerve cells that control body movement. This is the reason why aspartame based body building supplements are linked with muscle tremors, mental confusion, migraine headaches and vision problems.

Weight gain and sudden cramps

According to the studies conducted by The University of Maryland Medical Center, body building supplements may cause unwanted weight gain in an individual. This mainly happens because of creatine which is the active ingredient in most of the supplements available in the market. People tend to believe that such supplements help in improving endurance, however, no such evidence exists which is known to support this view. In fact, individuals who consume body building supplements may experience sudden weight gain. Muscle cramps, pulls and strains may also occur.

Dr Prem Jagyasi

Dr Prem Jagyasi

Author, Chartered Consultant, Personal Branding Expert & Global Trainer at DrPrem.com
Author of several life improving guide books – Dr Prem is an award winning strategic global leader, successful chartered consultant, personal branding expert and global trainer.  Dr Prem has traveled to more than 40 countries to work with above 150 international organisations and to speak in global conferences. Dr Prem has published several guide books and numerous niche websites which have millions of reader across the globe.
Dr Prem Jagyasi
Dr Prem Jagyasi
Dr Prem Jagyasi

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