Intakes and Supplement Use in Pre-Adolescent and Adolescent Canadian Athletes

JA, Wiens KP, & Erdman KA.  Nutrients. 2016; 8(9), 526. doi: 10.3390/nu8090526

Take Home Message: Dietary intake in young athletes seem to
meet most recommendations, therefore supplementing may only be necessary for a
few select micronutrients based on age and gender. 

Athletes face obstacles such as
travel, energy needs, and time demands when trying to eat healthy. Establishing
healthy nutritional intakes as a younger athlete is very important for founding
healthy long-term behaviors.  Therefore, these authors investigated the dietary and supplement intake of 168 young pre-adolescent
and adolescent Canadian athletes (ages 11-18 years).  Athletes and/or their parents/guardians completed
two questionnaires regarding their dietary and supplemental intakes over the
previous 24 hours.  Females were more
likely to report trying to lose weight (8% ages 11-14 & 15% ages 14-18) compared
with males (4% ages 11-14 & 0% ages 14-18). 
While males were more likely to report trying to gain weight (15% ages
11-14 & 42% ages 14-18) than females (3% of younger females 11-14 years).  Younger males consumed more carbohydrate and
protein compared with older males and females based on body weight (excludes
protein supplements).  Athletes consumed
most micronutrients at appropriate levels, with the exception of vitamin D and
potassium.  Some athletes consumed low amounts
of folate (14-18 year-old females) and vitamin A (females 11-13 years old and
14-18 year-old males). Furthermore, female athletes failed to consume enough
calcium, and the older female athletes did not consume enough iron. A majority
of athletes consumed excessive sodium.  Every
athlete reported some form of supplement use over the past 3 months, with the most
commonly reported regularly used supplement being a vitamin/mineral, sport
bars, and protein powders.      

The findings of this study are
interesting because it shows that most athletes are consuming appropriate
levels for energy demands, with only a few micronutrients lacking.  All athletes reported some supplementation;
however, it may be relatively unnecessary given their dietary intake except in
a few instances (e.g., vitamin D, iron or calcium in females).  It would be interesting to see what their
intake in areas, such as protein, was if the authors included supplement intake
since protein powders was a commonly used product.  It was also interesting to see that females
were generally more concerned with losing weight, while males were more likely
to desire to gain weight.  Athletes are
susceptible to disordered eating, so it would have been interesting to see if
the athletes’ perceptions of weight gain/loss aligned appropriately with their
current body mass state.  This study adds
a broad perspective on multiple sports, however, there are certain sports that
are more susceptible to disordered eating and could be investigated
separately.  This may help clinicians
target education or other interventions. The findings of this study ultimately
inform us as clinicians that supplementation seems largely unnecessary – and we
can educate the athletes that we work with about their dietary and supplement

for Discussion:  What have your
experiences been with consulting athletes regarding nutrition or supplement
intake?  What strategies do you think
work best when trying to work with an athlete on their nutritional goals?

Nicole Cattano
by: Jeffrey Driban


Parnell, J., Wiens, K., & Erdman, K. (2016). Dietary Intakes and Supplement Use in Pre-Adolescent and Adolescent Canadian Athletes Nutrients, 8 (9) DOI: 10.3390/nu8090526