After reading the Slate piece on American swimmer Jessica Hardy (found here) and her positive test for clenbuterol, I felt compelled to comment.

Holistic SupplementsOver the last several years, two of my greatest passions have been exercise and nutrition. In fact, I am an avid taker of supplements which motivated me to create the Product Reference Library that resides on this website. My heart goes out to Ms. Hardy and the other athletes featured in this piece who had the misfortune of taking tainted supplements. However, I take issue with the statement that this problem has become prevalent. I disagree. I encourage readers to not be influenced by the despicable actions of a few rogue supplement makers.

I take further issue that “supplements are risky thanks in part to a piece of legislation passed in 1994 called the Dietary Supplements and Health Education Act.”  The passage of DSHEA was arguably the single most important legislative development in the history of health freedom. Since 1994, interest in natural solutions to health has grown dramatically in the US. In fact, it is now estimated that 70 percent of the US population uses dietary supplements at least occasionally and 40 percent use them regularly.

Sure, DSHEA has holes. But the intention of DSHEA is to facilitate consumer access to vitamins, minerals, and other dietary supplements, increased scientific research, the safety of supplements, and increased public education and consumer protections through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Why would athletes take supplements? Well, these supplements are backed by legitimate science. When I do a search for Arginine studies on PubMed (the supplement in question for Ms. Hardy), no less than 213 studies were displayed. In the case of Ms. Hardy, she had the misfortune of signing an endorsement deal that was her undoing. In the future, she will probably more closely scrutinize potential sponsors.

I have worked in the natural products industry for many years. There are thousands of wonderful products on the market that have a profound impact on performance, health, wellness and longevity. And each of these products are supported by sound scientific research data. The natural products industry is full of world-class researchers, scientists and health professionals. I have worked with so many of them.

And I will enthusiastically continue to take my supplements every day. I can report that I take an arginine supplement daily along with other nitric oxide supplements for increased blood flow and vasodilation. I can only report that my supplement regimen has been very successful for my exercise regimen and overall health.

True, you can’t put blinders on. Do your due diligence on manufacturers and their products. Read labels. All companies claim to be science-based. That is part of the marketing mantra. In the end, it is up to us to make informed choices that make sense for our personal health and wellness.