Legislation on Sports Nutrition in Spain

7th August 2019
Over the years, many laws and royal decrees have been enacted to regulate sports nutrition. Here's an analysis of the most important legislation on sports nutrition in Spain.

A healthy body that’s in good condition and functions properly is what every athlete aspires to. However, everyone always wants to be as healthy as possible. When the only goal is winning, nutrition is the key to success. Understanding this simple fact has given rise to the emergence of new legislation on sports nutrition.

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You have to eat well if you want to win

Sports nutrition is an applied specialization that focuses on the nutritional needs of athletes of all different types of sports. In fact, food must meet each individual’s requirements in all stages: training, competition, recovery and rest.

Also, at no time should you neglect your energy needs. To calculate your needs, figure out how much energy you’re expending during your physical activities. You cannot reduce your energy intake without risking or causing damage to your body and altering your performance.

With all of these factors in mind, it’s easy to see the importance of an adequate diet that contains the necessary nutrients. This is essential for your body to be able to care for and repair organic tissues, as well as to regulate the body’s metabolism.

Sports nutrition not only considers these points but also customizes diets according to the athlete and the demands of the sport he or she practices. Each food and drink has specific importance, and you can’t overlook the need for constant supervision by a specialist.

Whey protein and other supplements for athletes

How is food marketing regulated?

Before a food product or nutritional supplement can enter the market, it must be regulated. Regulation takes place during all stages of production including processing, packaging, and distribution. These laws are important for sports nutrition, as they pertain to supplements that athletes need to meet their dietary and energy requirements. 

Exercising involves nutritional demands that are often quite high. For this reason, athletes sometimes require supplements with additional vitamins and minerals to meet their needs.

Regarding legislation on sports nutrition, see Royal Decree 126/2015, enacted on February 27th, 2015.  This legislation approves certain regulations for information on unpackaged food that’s intended for sale to the final consumer and food establishments.

This legislation also regulates packaged products so consumers may request nutritional information from retailers.

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Legislation on sports nutrition in Spain

Regarding nutritional supplements, the European Union and Spain haven’t yet agreed on any legal criteria. National legislation establishes specific regulations in decrees such as RD-1712/1991. This Royal Decree seeks to regulate food products at the General Food Sanitation Registry, which requires the registration of products labeled as diet or other specialty products.

These types of products are also regulated by Royal Decree RD-2685/1976, enacted on October 16th, 1976. This decree establishes categories and specific provisions for the Technical and Sanitary Regulations.

The problem for food producers and consumers is that the legislation is not very clear. In fact, in many cases it is nonexistent.

These legal loopholes give Spain a disadvantage compared to other countries when it comes to the production of sports nutrition products. A good example of this are sweeteners, which are fine to use in daily life but not in nutritional supplements for athletes.

Another case is the RD-1275/2003, established on October 10th, 2003, which establishes maximum permitted amounts of certain substances. As a result, this legislation marks a big difference between Spain and the rest of the European Union. A good example is vitamin C, authorized at 60 mg in Spain, while in other countries the maximum consumption is 1000 mg.

Omega three supplements legislation on sports nutrition

Updates needed for legislation on sports nutrition

Athletes and those interested in sports nutrition need to review some of these legal regulations. One important regulation worth mentioning is Organic Law 7/2006, enacted on November 21st, 2006. This law provides protection for athlete health and supports the fight against doping in sports.

The current objectives of doping control are quite different from those in past years. The legislation now regulates both exogenous and endogenous substances. Additionally, a distinction is made between negative and suspicious substances and periods between drug tests are now shorter.

Sports nutrition and advertising

Within the regulations applicable to nutrition and food, we must also mention the Royal Decree 1907/1996, of August 2nd, 1996. This decree has to do with the advertisement and commercial promotion of products, activities or services with purported health purposes. It’s necessary to adapt this standard to the world of online advertising, which comprises a large part of today’s marketing strategies.

In the same way, the Royal Decree 1808/1991, enacted December 13th, 1991 regulates the claims made to categorize certain nutritional products. Food identification and regulations are evolving and it’s important to establish updated standards. 

Finally, the Royal Decree 30/1992, enacted July 17th, 1992, improved labeling standards but requires updates. This is a law that doesn’t consider many of the parameters of food regulation we are facing more than 20 years later.

In most cases, laws are becoming obsolete because they can’t adapt to the current reality of sports nutrition. In such a field that’s so broad and important for the lives of all people, there should be no loose ends, especially when it comes to legislation.

  • Ley Orgánica 3/2013, de 20 de junio, de protección de la salud del deportista y lucha contra el dopaje en la actividad deportiva. Extraído de: https://www.boe.es/buscar/act.php?id=BOE-A-2013-6732
  • Legislación sobre complementos alimenticios. Extraído de: https://www.boe.es/buscar/act.php?id=BOE-A-2009-16109