What supplements can show up on a drug test?


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Phil Newton answered

There are a large range of supplements that can show up on a drug test, but the main culprits are those aimed at assisting in weight loss, or performance enhancing blends.  I'll explain in more detail below.

What is a supplement?

There is a lot of confusion about what actually constitutes a supplement.  It's important to understand what supplements are before trying to explain why some of them show up on drug tests.

Simply put, supplements are blends of different foods and other ingredients that are taken in addition to normal dietary requirements.  Their sole purpose is to enhance a specific bodily function or make up for a lack of natural function.

The most common supplements

  • Protein supplements are used to help maximise muscle repair and growth.  Consuming protein in a drink is much easier than eating endless amounts of meat.
  • Caffeine is often a main ingredient within supplements in order to increase physical performance.
  • Multivitamins are supplements used to increase the amount of vitamins within the body.  Again, it's easier to take a little pill than to eat a large variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • Fish oils are supplements used to help joint, mind, and digestive health. 

So what's the issue with supplements?

The biggest problem with supplements is that they're regulated differently around the world.  That means they're not under the control of a specific food agency, and therefore, the ingredients can be considered negative in certain countries, but not in others.

Some of the main supplement ingredients responsible for drug test fails include ephedrine, caffeine, and other difficult to pronounce ingredients that aim to help in weight loss.  They're not drugs in the general sense, but in large doses, they can give an athlete an unfair advantage over others.

What supplements can show up on a drug test?

Ultimately, the answer to what supplements are at risk of showing up on a drug test is "all of them".  It really does depend on the ingredient list.  The most common supplement to show would be those that claim to assist in weight loss or improve performance. 

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