It is well documented that athletes report greater dietary supplement (DS) usage than nonathletes; however, limited data exist for Canadian athletes, especially relative to competitive performance levels.
This descriptive and analytical, cross-sectional research investigated DS practices and opinions, preferred means for DS education, and antidoping opinions among elite Canadian athletes competing at various performance levels.
Subjects completed a validated questionnaire by recall. Combined, 582 high-performance athletes (314 M, 268 F) between the ages of 11 and 42 yr (mean 19.96 +/- 3.91 yr) and representing 27 sports activities participated. Respondents were categorized into five competitive performance levels: provincial (68), national (101), North America (61), international or professional (89), and varsity (263).
Overall, most (88.4%) reported taking one or more DS during the previous 6 months (mean 3.08 +/- 1.87 DS per user). From a total of 1555 DS declared, sport drinks (22.4%), sport bars (14.0%), multivitamins and minerals (13.5%), protein supplements (9.0%), and vitamin C (6.4%) were most frequently reported. Athletes at the highest performance level were significantly more likely to use protein supplements, to be advised by strength trainers regarding DS usage, to have a higher self-rating of their diet, to prefer individual interviews for DS educational purposes, to perceive greater awareness of antidoping legislation, and train more h.wk(-1). Furthermore, differences were observed for the types of DS reported and justifications for use.
This dataset, the first of its kind in Canada, was generated with a validated and reliable questionnaire and has the potential to be extended nationally and internationally to provide greater insight into the patterns and opinions of elite athletes regarding supplementation and antidoping.