HEALTH BEAT: Extreme effects of athletic, dietary supplements

By: Jenny You Email
By: Jenny You Email

(WEAU) – Red Bull, Rock Star and Monster all drinks that boost your energy. But experts say they’re a far cry from any over-the-counter performance enhancer.

Ten Menomonie High School football players are suspended for the first three games of this upcoming season because they drank “C4 Extreme,” bought from a local GNC store.

The key ingredient, synephrine, is not only the WIAA’s banned list but also the NCAA and NFL.

The students say they didn’t know synephrine was in C4 Extreme.

“If an item is banned or discouraged on the WIAA list, it’s been brought to that list by our sports medical advisor committee, and that's a group of 11 doctors and they know what the effects of that are on your body,” says WIAA deputy director Wade Labecki.

So why the ban? We asked WEAU health correspondent Dr. Alicia Arnold what exactly synephrine is.

“It’s a plant based derivative which is found in different dietary supplements These dietary supplements might be marketed towards those looking to lose weight or for performance enhancement.”

Dr. Arnold says synephrine can come with side effects.

“Different types of cardiac or heart problems, things like sudden death, things like heart attack and irregular heart problems. It’s been associated with high blood pressure,” says Dr. Arnold.

In 2001, Vikings offensive tackle Korey Stringer died suddenly due to a heat stroke which was linked to Ephedra, a supplement similar to synephrine.

“Synepherine is thought to be structurally similar and also work in a similar to ephedrine alkaloids which have been federally banned by the FDA since 2004 because of the adverse attacks people had after taking those,” says Dr. Arnold.

But some say when used as directed on the back label, C4 Extreme can actually go a long ways when pumping the iron.

“It gets you ready to go to the gym, gets you focused. It’s like caffeine so it increases your heart rate,” says body builder Tom Holtorf.

Tom’s brother Tim Holtorf says he agrees.

“You feel a little bit of more blood flow to the muscle when you work out,” says Tim who adds it’s important to treat a supplement like C4 Extreme as a supplement.

“I use it to supplement my diet so I really just stick to the diet first and throw supplements on top,” he says.

But both of the brothers say it’s important to take any supplements with caution and do your homework by researching, asking experts about how the supplement could affect your body and knowing when to stop taking them.

The makers of C4 Extreme “Cellucor” sent WEAU a statement saying:

“As indicated on our label, Cellucor C4 Extreme is only intended for healthy adults 18 years of age or older. While our product is marketed to healthy adult consumers, the label of C4 Extreme contains an additional voluntary disclosure to athletes regarding prohibited substances, indicating that they should not take this product without the approval and/or authorization of their applicable governing organization. In this case, it was reported that the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) prohibits the use of synephrine by athletes, an ingredient which was clearly identified on the label of C4 Extreme. We are aware that GNC’s in-store cash registers are formatted to prompt store personnel to request identification for products that contain age-based labeling and we understand they are investigating this situation.”

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