muscle cramps, increased blood pressure, palpitations and increased pulse rate,
insomnia, dry mouth, vomiting, shakiness, anxiety, nervousness and
restlessness, headaches, problems with breathing and excessive sweating
Clenbuterol increases the collagen content of muscle
tissue, including of the heart, which in turn can increase the size of the
heart muscle cells thereby reducing the pumping efficiency of the heart, and
causing irregular heartbeats. Over time this drug can cause heart cell
degeneration and aorta cell enlargement that can lead to rupture of the aorta
and sudden death.
b) Skeletal effects:
Clenbuterol is known to increase bone
fragility which combined with increased body mass due to “bulking up”,
increases the risk of bone fractures.
While many young athletes may be tempted to take clenbuterol
because it is supposed to be a “fat-burner”, few are probably aware of the
ironic fact that in the long-term this banned drug actually causes weight gain.
The weigh gaining effect can evidently start rapidly when clenbuterol loses its
effect after 3-4 weeks. So instead of losing weight, an athlete may, therefore,
find himself gaining weight at a fast rate.
Read: Steroids in dietary supplements?
As the Superskinnyme.com website warns:
“The list of potential side-effects caused by clenbuterol is long and perilous
and is the reason behind the limited knowledge of clenbuterol’s weight loss
properties in humans.” There are no results of studies conducted with humans
available, particularly in young people with developing bodies. The listed side-effects
are based on findings of various groups of people who ate meat that was
contaminated with clenbuterol in countries such as Spain (1994) and China (2006).
The steroid is used in cattle farming in Europe, China and the USA and
excessive doses in meat have led to poisoning of consumers who ate the meat and
offal such as liver. Pity the poor cattle and pity the poor people who ate the
While the side-effects of the above
mentioned illegal drugs may be swift and sometimes fatal, the long-term effects
of taking excessive amounts of vitamins and minerals via sports supplements,
shakes and “body fuel” products, may take longer to manifest but are just as
serious and harmful.
If your son begs you to buy him one or
more of the hundreds of the enticing “sport performance enhancing” products available
at pharmacies, gyms and sports clubs, chances are you will fall for the “safe
and natural” blurbs on the labels and end up buying a variety of shakes and
powders and bars.
Read: Vitamin supplements could be harmful
Before using these products, stop right
there and do the following:
Write down each nutrient that these
products contain and the quantities of each nutrient per serving (e.g. 3 scoops
of “Product X”, which contains 900 micrograms of vitamin A) and the recommended
frequency of intake (e.g. 3 times a day) and calculate how much of each
nutrient your child would be ingesting on a daily basis.
In our imaginary example, your son would
be swallowing 3 x 3 x 900 = 8 100 micrograms of vitamin A per day, or 9 times
the Nutrient Reference Value (NRV), from just one “safe and natural” sports
But let’s say your son is also taking “Product Y” which contains 500 microgram of Vitamin A per 30 ml (1 tablespoon) and the
recommended dosage is 3 tablespoons a day. This works out to 3 x 500 = 1 500
micrograms of vitamin A from “Product Y” that you need to add to the 8 100
micrograms from “Product X”, thus equalling 9 600 micrograms of vitamin A per
day, or nearly 11 times the NRV for vitamin A.
At this rate, your son will soon develop
e.g. hypervitaminosis A which can lead to irreversible liver and joint damage.
An unexpected and unfortunate result of using just two “safe and natural”
No growing child or teenager should be
exposed to the dangers of banned substances or nutrient overdoses for the sake
of sport performance; bulking up; getting an “edge”; pleasing the coach; or
because of peer pressure. Keep an eye on
your sons and never allow them to sacrifice their health or even be driven to
death (yes, it happens!) for the sake of winning at sport.
SA schoolboys taking steroids
Kids and vitamin supplements
Can vitamin supplements be fatal?
- (Childs K (2014). Steroids rife in
schools. The Times, Page 1. Published
on Friday 17 October 2014;
- Daubert GP et al (2007). Acute
clenbuterol overdose resulting in supraventricular tachycardia and atrial
fibrillation. Journal of Medical
- Drugs.com (2014). Winstrol side-effects.
- Superskinnyme.com (2014). Fat burners:
Clenbuterol side-effects. skinnyme.com/clenbuterol-side-effects.html/)
Image: Steroid injections from Shutterstock