A new study has found that 38% of US boys in middle and high school use protein supplements, and 6% admit to trying steroids in the hopes of building muscle mass. While the dangers of steroids are well documented, protein supplements also have their risks. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics council on sports medicine and fitness advises that children under 18 should avoid all fitness supplements, many of which are unregulated in the US.
In Canada protein supplements are regulated, but some supplements contain banned ingredients such as steroids and heavy metal. A 2010 Consumer Report investigation revealed that all protein drinks tested contained at least one or more or containments such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury. These substances accumulate in fatty tissues and in the liver, often leading to long-term health problems.
Most sports dieticians recommend using high quality natural sources for proteins found in meats, dairy, legumes, and tofu, and that the use of protein supplements is unnecessary.
Sources: Journal of Pediatrics (AAP), Nov. 19, 2012 and The Globe & Mail, Nov. 21, 2012