Dietary Supplements

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Dietary supplements are products taken by mouth that contain a "dietary ingredient" such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and herbs or botanicals.

Dietary supplements come in many forms, including tablets, capsules, powders, energy bars, and liquids.


Many dietary supplements on the market are tainted and unsafe. The most commonly tainted dietary supplements are those intended for:

  • Bodybuilding
  • Weight Loss
  • Diabetes
  • Sexual Enhancement

Many think supplements may be superior to natural foods, but in fact, most ingredients in supplements come from food, whereas others are synthetic. Dietary supplements cannot offset the unfavorable effects of poor food choices.

Before taking a dietary supplement, ask yourself:

  • What's in it?
  • Does it work?
  • Is it safe?
  • Do I really need it?
  • Has it been third-party tested?


  • Talk to a health care provider or your local Military Treatment Facility's Registered Dietitian.
  • Read the label to see if the product is safe.
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not test or approve dietary supplements before they are marketed to the public. 
  • Many products on the market are dangerous to your health and physical activity may increase the risk.

If you decide to use a supplement, BE SMART:

  • Use well-known brands.
  • Take no more than the recommended serving size.
  • Look for evidence of third-party testing on the label, which ensures:
    • What's on the label is inside the bottle- and nothing more.
    • The quality of manufacturing.

For more information on dietary supplements, use the resources below.   


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Human Performance Research Center - OPSS: Operation Supplement Safety External Link

The Human Performance Research Center (HPRC) provides:

  • Research-backed information to help users make informed decisions about supplements.  Alerts of recalls, market withdrawals, safety bulletins, and links to additional reliable information on supplements.

FDA 101: Dietary Supplements External Link

If you have questions about a particular supplement, call the FDA's toll-free number at (888) INFO-FDA (463-6332).  Also, contact your healthcare provider immediately if you experience any adverse effects after taking a dietary supplement.  It is also recommended that you report the problem to FDA  

Guide to Herbs and Supplements: Looking for the Edge – Dietary Supplements External Link

Published by the Uniformed Services University Consortium for Health and Military Performance, this guide was developed to provide the warfighter a reputable source of information on herbs and supplements.


Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database External Link   

Many warfighters use supplements to improve their health and performance, but getting good information isn't always easy.  Check out resources from our partners at the Natural Medicines Comprehensive database. 

Supplements and Fluids - an interactive online training module  External Link  (requires CAC verification)

"Supplements and Fluids" is one of several interactive, self-development nutrition training modules available on the ARMY FIT/Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness website.  Log in with your CAC card. Go to Tutorials.  Click on "PHYSICAL TAB".  Choose from a variety of topics to include: High Performance Nutrition, Running, Supplements and Fluids, Nutrition in the Field, Fueling the Military Family, Lose Weight.