The use of nutritional supplements among master athletes

Int J Sports Med. 2006 Mar;27(3):236-41. doi: 10.1055/s-2005-865648.


We assessed the use of nutritional supplements among master athletes focusing on their source of information and source of supply of nutritional supplements. 1560 standardized, anonymous questionnaires were distributed among participants of the World Masters Athletics Championships Indoors 2004. These questions were related to biometric parameters, social indicators, training parameters, illicit drugs, and nutritional supplements. Chi2-tests were computed to reveal meaningful associations between basic information (age, gender, family status, children, education, country of origin, disciplines, training years, smoking, and the use of alcohol, illicit drugs, and doping) and the intake of nutritional supplements. Descriptive information on the history of their use of nutritional supplements was also provided. 60.5 % of all participants reported the actual use of nutritional supplements. We found no significant differences between nutritional supplement users and non-users with regard to basic information. The substances predominantly used were vitamins (35.4 %) and minerals (29.9 %). In contrast to elite athletes who use nutritional supplements to increase their athletic performance, master athletes use these substances predominantly for health reasons and, thus, have a closer contact to the health care system. Physicians are their preferred source of information about nutritional supplements. More than half of the interviewed athletes obtain their nutritional supplements from pharmacies or physicians. The results of this study indicate that nutritional supplement users in master athletics show no specific user profile. Since it is not rare for nutritional supplements to contain trace contaminations of anabolic androgenic steroids or pro-hormones, physicians should also inform master competitive athletes of the dangers of testing positive for doping substances due to their intake of nutritional supplements and advise them accordingly.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Doping in Sports
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minerals / administration & dosage
  • Risk Factors
  • Sports*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vitamins / administration & dosage


  • Minerals
  • Vitamins