Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Beware of this supplement ingredient

The ingredient is Methylhexaneamine (MHA), a compound developed by Eli Lilly more than 50 years ago as a nasal decongestant drug. Today, MHA is showing up in a growing number of pre-workout sports nutrition supplements and being labeled as a constituent of geranium oil. Why the concern?

Extensive NSF analysis has shown that geranium oil—which is an approved food flavoring that is legal for use in dietary supplements—does not contain MHA. Manufacturers using MHA in their sports nutrition products say otherwise, but their main piece of evidence is one questionable study published by Guizhou University in China. The study was translated from Chinese to English and does not put any credence in the research. According to NBJ, which investigated MHA/geranium oil topic, the Chinese paper contains “a possible typo” — hexanamide is referenced, not hexanamine—that “calls the entire relevancy of the data into question.”

Aside from being a potential dietary supplement adulterant, MHA is also fueling worry because of its powerful stimulating effects. In a 2006 Washington Post article on the synthetic ingredient, Don Catlin, MD, CEO of the Anti-Doping Research Group, said the chemical structure of MHA is akin to amphetamines and ephedrine. MHA is a key ingredient in one of the most popular pre-workout sports supplements: USP Labs’ Jack3d—a product that can be found in high school locker rooms and weight rooms throughout the country. In its marketing for Jack3d, USP Labs touts the product’s ability to “give you the mad aggressive desire and ability to lift more weight.”

MHA was banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency in 2010. Jack3d is on the list of products banned by the NCAA. MHA and geranium oil extract can be found in numerous other products including E-Pharm’s ClearShot,

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