If you feel you must supplement, make sure you are choosing supplements that are safe. Did you know that the FDA does not regulate supplements? The FDA only intervenes and can pull a supplement off the shelf if it has been found to be unsafe. This basically means that someone has to have an adverse reaction bad enough that it becomes big enough news for the FDA to step in. Because the FDA does not regulate, we are relying on the manufacturer to be truthful in its ingredients listings and trust that it contains no more and no less than what it states on the label. Unfortunately, studies and testing have found that the label is not always completely accurate. This can be dangerous to any individual; however, it can be even more detrimental to the young athlete because the unmentioned ingredient in a supplement may be one that is banned in sport (such as a stimulant). If an athlete were to be tested and found positive for a banned substance, their defense of "not knowing" would not suffice.
All of that to say, there are several organizations that regulate supplements and examine them for good manufacturing practices and truth in labeling. You can look up specific supplements on the organization's websites and some of them include a label on all supplements they have reviewed and approved (like the USP stamp above). Check out one of thee sites below before you or your athlete start to supplement:
NSF Certified for Sport - http://www.nsfsport.com
U.S. Pharmacopeia - http://www.usp.org
Drug Free Sport - http://www.drugfreesport.com
Informed Choice - http://www.informed-choice.org
As a reminder, unless otherwise stated by your doctor, you should be able to obtain optimal fuel and nutrition from the foods you eat and the drinks you drink. However, if supplementation is still needed or desired, I hope this information can be used as a guide to make the safest choices.
Supplement Safely & Happy Fueling!