Flagler students speak out on dietary supplements

By Amber James | gargoyle@flagler.edu

Three martial art styles, numerous Cross-Fit routines and one broken foot later, Carly Lupo is a fighter.

The psychology major trains mixed martial arts five days a week, constantly in and out of Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, boxing and open mat sessions at the Combat Club in St Augustine. In July she broke her foot, but still worked on her boxing and sparring skills while healing. She also lifts weights at Planet Fitness and does a Cross-Fit routine includes box jumps, farmer’s walk, medicine ball, wall ball, push-ups, burpees, four-count sit ups, kettle bell swings and push press.

So what keeps this well oiled machine working?

“Every morning with food I take GNC Women’s Ultra Mega Multivitamins plus Iron. I also take glucosamine every morning to help support my joint function,” Lupo said.

Dietary supplements, which include vitamins, minerals, botanicals, sports nutrition supplements, weight management products and specialty supplements, are part of a $26.9 billion industry, according to the Council for Responsible Nutrition.

Many of these dietary supplements have a label on their packaging: “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.”

GNC Women’s Ultra Mega Multivitamins and Equate’s glucosamine chondrotinin MSM are among those supplements with the warning label.

“The label does make me wonder about the overall safety of the product, but in moderation, it’s not a health concern,” Bryn Thomas, also a psychology major, said.

Although this label may seem threatening, more than 150 million Americans, like Thomas and Lupo, take dietary supplements annually.

The label means that the dietary supplement industry is unregulated. Dietary supplements are regulated as food and not as drugs.

Drugs must get pre-market approval from the FDA, unlike foods and dietary supplements.

Instead, foods and dietary supplements get must give a pre-market notification. This means that a manufacturer must supply the FDA at least 75 days before marketing a new dietary ingredient with information that provides “reasonable assurance that the ingredient does not present a significant or unreasonable risk of illness or injury,” according to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994.

DSHEA mandates that a dietary supplement label must list the name and quantity of each active ingredient and that supplements must be in compliance with current good manufacturing practices.

The DSHEA also requires adverse event reporting.

But sometimes there are cases of side effects.

Lupo and Thomas both said they felt a tingly sensations and prickling of the skin when they took Jack3d, a pre-workout supplement.

This is because the beta-alanine in Jack3d. Beta-alanine is a naturally occurring non-essential amino acid. It helps increase muscular strength, delay muscle fatigue, increase muscle mass and causes the tingling effect for reasons unknown.

In this case, a bit of tingling isn’t considered a reason for “adverse event reporting.”

“The only concern I ever had with [Jack3d] was that it made me feel invincible sometimes so it worried me that I might over work my muscles and end up doing damage in the long run,” Lupo said.

Flagler sociology major Celeste McGrogan said when people misuse dietary supplements, danger can sometimes occur. Sometimes results don’t occur, she said.

“Women normally return products because they do not see immediate results or they do not diet and exercise along with the pill or shake,” McGrogan, who used to work at GNC, said.

Lauren Taistra, a communication major, said she had friends in high school who abused diet pills by swallowing more than the recommended amount and then eating unhealthy foods like French fries, which ended in weight gain.

“After blaming [their weight gain] on birth control, they decided to do weekly laxative binges,” Taistra said.

Lupo used to take a pre-workout supplement.

“Personally, I loved Jack3d,” she said. “Jack3d definitely made my workouts twice as long and more intense.”

Although dietary supplements can help increase muscle function, focus and intensity, still some chose to do without.

Lupo’s trainer, professional MMA fighter, John Mahlow, who owns the Combat Club, is against any kind of supplement, according to Lupo.

“His view is that the body is like a racecar; if you fill a racecar, the body, with regular unleaded fuel, chemically produced supplements or junk food, it is going to run like hell, but if you fill the racecar up with racing fuel, organic or clean foods and plenty of water, the racecar is going to run like a dream,” Lupo said.

Lupo said she has adopted his theory.

“My coach completely changed my opinion on supplement taking and made me realize that I simply need a clear mind and body to be a successful fighter,” she said. “Right now, I feel like training without a pre-workout supplement has been difficult, but that is what being a fighter is all about, being able to get through extremely tough situations with no outside help. I believe that training without energy boosting supplements has made me a stronger person and a better fighter.”

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