It is generally known that talent and hard training are the main factors contributing to the success of an athlete; nevertheless athletes make use of various substances in an attempt to improve their performance. The aim of this study is: 1) the evaluation of diet supplements used by the students attending courses at the faculty of Motor Sciences in a southern Italian University. 2) the evaluation of the precise knowledge about nutritional supplements and risks related to their utilization. An anonymous questionnaire was distributed to 562 students attending the last year of the university course. This questionnaire focused on information regarding demographic characteristics, sporting activities and the use of nutritional supplements (frequency, types of substances and suppliers). A significant percentage (28.6%) of students admitted using nutritional supplements (absolute values: elite-n = 84; non-elite-n = 76). Among the 160 athletes using nutritional supplements: 34% practised bodybuilding and 32% football; 40% used minerals, 36.3% vitamins and 23.7% proteins; 20.1% took nutritional supplements regularly (>5 times per week), 35.3% occasionally (2-4 times per week), 44.6% seldom (<2 times per week); 45% bought supplements from a pharmacy and 21.9% from a sports coach; 41% of the athletes used nutritional agents at the suggestion of a sport coach trainer while only 19% and 6% on recommendation of a medical or nutritional consultant respectively. No adverse drug reactions have been reported. Among young people, and particularly sports students, it is important to provide accurate information on the correct use of supplements and their potential damage.
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