A young athlete is usually someone who is under the age of 18. Often, for the purposes of evaluating whether something is a net positive or negative for a “young athlete,” we talk about people who are in the age range of 13 to 15 years. This is when a lot of people begin to work out, and everyone who hears about the seemingly magical properties of supplements are at least curious about trying them.

When Supplements are Good

Supplements can allow a young athlete to train for longer amounts of time, as well as being able to train with a higher level of intensity than they otherwise could. In some cases, using the right supplements in the right way can also help to recover from the types of injuries that sports and athletic pursuits are likely to supply.

It is important to keep in mind that supplements are just that – they are intended to be a supplement to food. No supplements, no matter how good they may be, should ever be used in place of food. There are horror stories of athletes who do not know any better using protein shakes in place of meals, and suffering from micronutrient deficiencies as a result of doing this. When a supplement is used to provide more energy, faster recovery and more material for the rebuilding of slightly damaged skin and muscles, this is a good thing.

It is also important to remember that below a certain age, some supplements are not a good idea. For athletes under 18 years old, and particularly under 16, there are hazards to taking creatine monohydrate. This can interfere with the developing body's ability to process creatine that one takes in through food, and the damage can be long-term. Taking a pre-workout supplement or additional protein and a multi-vitamin, however, are generally safe for people of any age.

When Supplements Go Wrong

There are some occasions where a supplement is never a good idea, and should be avoided like the plague. As the workout nut could tell you, anabolic steroids should not be used by any young athlete, and should ideally be avoided by anyone. Doing test cycles, short for testosterone cycles, is dangerous for any person who does not have a problem with naturally producing testosterone. As well, a person who begins this has to essentially continue it for life – one cannot simply “dabble” in taking steroids. It is a life-long commitment, unless one wants to suffer serious side effects resulting from not naturally producing enough testosterone anymore.

As well, even the supposedly safest supplements need to be avoided if they are produced in a dodgy way. If you do not trust the distributor or manufacturer of the supplements you are considering for your young athlete, it is important to avoid them. There are plenty of places that produce safe, thoroughly tested supplements that contain precisely what they claim to contain and that do what they say they are going to do, and nothing more.

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