(NPN) - Using protein supplements is a popular trend for athletes. Now, more children are starting to use the supplements. That has health experts concerned.
Joe Orlando was a high school sophomore when he wanted to build muscle to improve his performance on the football field. So, he stepped up his workout routine, changed his diet and took protein supplements.
"I wanted to make sure my body was healthy and could take all the impact that was going on throughout the season," Orlando said.
But, do children who are still developing need protein supplements? Michele Chiaramonte, a registered dietitian, says no.
Her first line of therapy is what she calls the good, old-fashioned way: through whole foods.
"For the average healthy adolescent and teenager, their protein needs can be met through the diet. Supplements are not really necessary," Chiaramonte said.
Protein requirements largely depend on a child's weight, age and activity level. According to the Institute of Medicine, on average, children nine to thirteen need about 34 grams of protein daily.
That jumps to 52 grams for boys 14 to 18 and to 46 grams for girls those ages. More athletic children should consume slightly more. Experts agree you can easily fulfill those needs through protein-rich foods.
"If the child was taking in the 50 grams of protein that they needed a day and then took a protein supplement on top of that it could give them more protein than they need," Chiaramonte said.
Too much protein can make your kidneys and liver work harder than they should, which, in turn, can create health risks.
As a parent, if you are interested in protein supplements or discover your child is already taking one, experts encourage you to read labels. Also, watch out for products loaded with sugar or other additives and keep track of total protein intake.