A new study suggests that those using supplements -- including sportspersons -- frequently have them without realising the potential side effects, or even benefits.
The findings of the study, by researchers at Kingston University here, were published in the online edition of the Nutrition Journal.
The study, which focussed on top athletes, found some 60 percent of those surveyed took nutritional supplements, but the reasons the sportspersons gave for taking them did not match the supplements' actual effects.
In fact, the study found that few users appeared to be taking supplements on medical advice.
This is worrying, the study notes, as high doses of some supplements may damage health and contaminated products may even cause athletes to fail drug-screening tests.
To help remedy this, the study says, education about the use of supplements should be a part of the accreditation process for sports coaches.
"Incongruence regarding nutritional supplements and their effects is alarming," said Andrea Petróczi, who led the study.
"Athletes seem to take supplements without an understanding of the benefits they can offer, or their side effects, suggesting that supplements may be used by high-performing athletes without a clear, coherent plan," Petróczi said.