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Anabolic Steroids: Anabolic steroids are synthetic (man-made) substances similar to male sex hormone, testosterone. The term “anabolic” means “growth”. Here, it refers to growth in muscle mass. Steroids are performance enhancing substances which cause an increase in muscle mass and physical strength. Some common examples of anabolic steroids include Androstenedione, Dehydrochloromethyltestosterone (Turinabol), Methandienone (Dianabol), Methyltestosterone (Android), Nandrolone (Durabolin), Oxandrolone (Oxandrin), Oxymetholone (Anadrol), Stanozolol (Winstrol).
Dietary Supplements: Dietary supplement is any product which is consumed orally and which contains dietary nutrients intended to supplement the diet. Dietary supplements may include amino acids, vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanical ingredients (except tobacco), substances like enzymes and metabolites (glucosamine, creatine, alpha-lipoic acid, Coenzyme Q10).
Dietary supplements can be extracts or concentrates and may be available as tablets, capsules, softgels, gelcaps, liquids and powders. They are also available in the form of nutrition bars.
Dietary supplements cannot be categorized as foods or drugs and hence, they are not regulated by the FDA. Dietary supplements are regulated under DSHEA (Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act) passed in the US in 1994. DSHEA defines dietary or nutritional supplements as “a nutrient, a formulation, or some compound that is drug-free or natural”.
Use and abuse of anabolic steroids: Anabolic steroids stimulate growth in tissues, especially bone and muscles. They also increase the production of RBCs (Red blood Cells). Anabolic steroids can be taken orally, are injectable or are used externally. Anabolic steroids are used in the treatment of many medical issues such as delayed puberty in boys, sexual dysfunction in men, breast cancer in women, weight loss in HIV, osteoporosis, anemia, endometriosis and other conditions involving hormonal imbalance.
Now, Anabolic steroids are also abused at large. Some athletes’ may abuse anabolic steroids to build muscle mass, prolong endurance and enhance performance. Anabolic steroids are converted into testosterone in the body, beyond normal levels. This leads to some serious side effects like dramatic increase in muscle mass (Greater Anabolism), Organ damage (Liver disease, kidney disease, heart disease), impotence, gynecomastia (fat deposition on the chest due to increased estrogen levels causing abnormal breast enlargement in men), severe acne, hair fall, oily skin, stunted growth and height in teens, shrinking of testicles, azoospermia (absence of sperms in semen), menstrual irregularities in women, excess facial or body hair and deeper voice in women, irritability, increased aggression, mood swings, depression or suicidal tendencies, high blood pressure, alterations in cholesterol and other blood lipids, risk of viral and bacterial infections due to use of unsterile injections.
Anabolic steroids are also addictive. They make the user and abuser physically and psychologically dependant on them.
Use and benefits of dietary supplements: Nutritional or dietary supplements are, in simple words, foods in a concentrated form. Nutritional deficiency is the root cause of many diseases. These days, chronic diseases are on a high and are striking people at a much earlier age. Air and water pollution, overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in agricultural practices, genetically engineered seeds, and depleted nutrient content in the soil are all responsible for the poor nutrient quality of the fruits and vegetables available in the market today.
The advantage of taking dietary supplements is that they provide adequate quantity of superior quality of nutrients, they give a specific combination and quantity of nutrients required at a particular time in a day and they make it convenient for the body to be supplied with all the essential nutrients.