However, there is a dark side to taking these supplements, as they may contain dangerous ingredients – ingredients which might not even be listed on product labels. There is no government standard of testing these supplements before they are sold, and the FDA only steps in and investigates them if there are complaints.
One of these workout supplements, Craze ‘Performance Fuel’ by Driven Sports, Inc., was recently discovered to contain a methamphetamine-like ingredient, formally known as N,alpha-diethylphenylethylamine (N,a-DEPEA). Harvard University researchers found that this substance was less powerful than methamphetamine, but stronger than ephedra, which was linked to heart attacks and subsequently banned by the FDA in 2003.
In a press release, Dr. Pieter Cohen of Harvard Medical School stated, “alarmingly we have found a drug in a mainstream sports supplement that has never been studied in humans.” N,a-DEPEA was not listend on the Craze ingredient label.
The Craze label did, however, contain N,N-diethylphenylethylamine, or dendrobium, a related compound that manufacturers claimed was derived from orchids. The researchers’ tests were not able to conclusively verify whether or not this substance came from orchids.
Regarding this matter, Dr. Cohen said, “it might be that manufacturers are not actually using the orchid at all, but rather using the name ‘dendrobium’ when actually placing pharmaceutical drugs into the supplement. It is very likely that some other supplements labeled as containing dendrobium contain this same new drug.”
Driven Sports, Inc. is not unique in its use of untested ingredients that may pose significant dangers to human health. Detonate, a weight loss supplement by Gaspari Nutrition, was also found to contain N,a-DEPEA. Earlier this month, OxyElite Pro by USPlabs LLC of Dallas, Texas was connected to 20 cases of hepatitis, one of which ended in death.
Before the discovery of N,a-DEPEA in Craze, it was named “New Supplement of the Year” by bodybuilding.com in 2012. This case, and many cases like it, serve as a reminder to everyone considering taking a supplement that unless we trust the manufacturer and know that what is on the label is exactly what is in the bottle, we are taking a risk.
A safe and effective alternative to workout supplements is simply to eat a healthy, organic diet rich in proteins, healthy fats and raw fruits and vegetables. Superfoods such as kale, and other dark, leafy greens, can provide you with the added nutrition needed to enhance the effect of your workouts.
If you still feel that you need a ‘boost,’ talk to a naturopathic practitioner about ginseng root, and other whole herbs that can give you the results that you seek without relying on the latest fad capsule or powder, which could contain virtually anything, and may do more harm than good.