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BJSM reviews: A–Z of nutritional supplements: dietary supplements, sports nutrition foods and ergogenic aids for health and performance Part 4
  1. L M Burke1,
  2. L M Castell2,
  3. S J Stear3,
  4. P J Rogers4,
  5. E Blomstrand5,
  6. S Gurr6,
  7. N Mitchell7,
  8. F B Stephens8,
  9. P L Greenhaff8
  1. 1
    Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, Australia
  2. 2
    University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  3. 3
    English Institute of Sport, London, UK
  4. 4
    Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK
  5. 5
    Åstrand Laboratory, Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, Stockholm, Sweden
  6. 6
    Sports Nutrition, Australian Institute of Sport, Belconnen, Australia
  7. 7
    British Cycling, English Institute of Sport, Sheffield, UK
  8. 8
    School of Biomedical Sciences, The Medical School, The University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to L M Castell, University of Oxford, Green Templeton College, Oxford OX2 6HG, UK; lindy.castell{at}

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Aspartame, branched chain amino acids, bee pollen, boron, carnitine

Introductory remarks

Welcome to Part 4 in our A–Z of nutritional supplement series. One of the enjoyable aspects of reviewing the many supplements in a fairly logical order from A to Z means that, every now and then, a review comprises a real assortment of supplements, and Part 4 is certainly one of them!

In Part 4, the review takes us from aspartame, a sweetening ingredient found in many foods and drinks, to BCAA, the three branched chain essential amino acids; then onto bee pollen, marketed as a “superfood,” followed by the ultra trace element boron, known more for its association with bone health, and finally to l-carnitine, a supplement which is widely used in the sporting arena and seems to be gaining in popularity. We are grateful for the excellent contributions from our invited reviewers, which facilitate the provision of access to impartial advice on the value of these individual ingredients and supplements. These contributions are establishing that, for some, the performance evidence is limited or simply does not yet exist.

In the January 2010 issue, we will be turning our attention to “buffers,” where we will be covering the key ones used by many athletes, such as beta-alanine and carnosine, together with the two more established compounds of sodium bicarbonate and sodium citrate.


PJ Rogers

Aspartame (C14H18N2O5) is an example of an intense or non-nutritive sweetener and an ingredient of many thousands of drink and food products consumed worldwide. It is a methyl ester of a dipeptide composed of the amino acids aspartic acid and phenylalanine, which are constituents of all protein-containing foods. Aspartame is about 180 times sweeter than sucrose with, for most individuals, minimal bitterness and a good quality of sweet taste. Being composed of amino acids, it has an energy value …

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  • LB, LC and SJ edited this series.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and Peer review Commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.