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Romanian Society for Sports Medicine

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"Medicina Sportiva" No.14 - 2008 The 15-th Sports Medicine Balkan Congress


Fabio Pigozzi

Nutritional supplements are often used by athletes in an effort to optimize their performance. Nutritional ergogenic aids are taken to increase muscle strength and mass, endurance capacity, to achieve a faster recovery as well as to support the immune system to cope with illness and infections.
New substances claimed to have ergogenic aids continue to appear on the market, however often these claims are not based on solid scientific avidence. In is paramount, therefore, to define the substances that actually provide benefits to athlete´s performance and clarify the rationale for their use.
 One of the most used ergogeinc aids is creatine, which has been largely proved to positively affect performance in disciplines characterized by repeated high intensity exercise. In addition to its affect on muscle energetics, creatine has been recently suggested to influence protein balance. Moreover, creatine has been also suggested to influence post exercise muscle glycogen resynthesis.
Oral bicarbonate supplementation is likely to produce advantages during exercises where acidosis constitutes a limit factor to performance. Caffeine supplementation is proved to be ergogenic in various circumstances, hover the meachanism leading to these benefits remain to be definitively established. Ho note, the positive effect of caffeine on performance can be achived even at doses resulting in urinary levels below the maximal level allowed by the IOC. Another methylxantine, such as theophyline, has been also proposed to have ergogenic properties.
Hydorxymethylbutyrate has been proposed to induce net protein accretion, however the amount of data available does not allow to make a final statement. Along the same line, individual aminoacids are also largely used by athletes but the rational for their use cannot be totally justified. Antioxidants have been suggested to reduce oxidative damage induced to tissue as a consequence of exercise, but, again, the evidence is not conclusive. Supplementation with bovine colostrum is sometime used by either endurance or strength athlets evend though the evidence justifying its use is yet inconclusive.
Finally, oral ribose supplementation is used by some athletes to increase intermittent exercise performance and it has been suggested to increase muscle post exercise ATP resynthesis, however recent scientific evidence has not provided support to these claims. In conclusion, although many substances are based on reasonable claims the recommendation for their use by the athletes should be always supported by scientific evidence regarding their effect and safety.

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