By Senior Airman Harry Brexel
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Every day, dietary supplement use becomes more popular in the United States. Service members are no exception to the trend. A recent Department of Defense initiative aims to educate service members, retirees, their family members, leaders, healthcare providers and DoD civilians about dietary supplements and how to choose supplements wisely.
Operation Supplement Safety is a joint initiative between the Human Performance Resource Center and the DoD. The campaign raises awareness and offers resources for those who take or are interested in taking supplements.
The most common reasons for taking supplements are to improve performance, for bodybuilding and to gain or lose weight. Though people may take supplements to improve their health, using them can actually have an adverse effect.
Potentially harmful examples that are in some supplements include caffeine, thermogenic fat burners, human growth hormone (HGH), dimethylbutylamine (DMAA), phentermine, capsaicin, nitric oxide boosters and testosterone boosters.
People may be putting themselves at risk by using dietary supplements. Some dietary supplements, including ones sold on military installations, may contain problematic ingredients.
The Food and Drug Administration received 6,307 dietary supplement adverse event reports from 2008-2011, including 92 deaths. One-third of U.S. Airmen reported using “legal body-building supplements” in the past year, including 15-percent using them daily.
Jill Hinsley, the 19th Aerospace Medicine Squadron registered dietician, encourages eating real food first, before experimenting with supplements.
“There are benefits from real food that have yet to be discovered and created as supplements.” Hinsley said. “Real food is the most efficient fuel for the body. Not all supplements are bad but doing research on ingredients is important.”
For advice on better eating habits, call Hinsley at 501- 987-7288. To find out what supplements are safe or unsafe, visit the Human Performance Resource Center’s website at www.hprc-online.org.