Nutrition

Dietary Supplements

Last Updated: August 02, 2018
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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.

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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?

Remember:

  • 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.   

Government 

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 OPSS: Operation Supplement Safety External Link

Operation Supplement Safety (OPSS) is a Department of Defense dietary supplement resource for the military community. OPSS educates Service Members and retirees, their family members, leaders, healthcare providers, and DoD civilians about dietary supplements and how to choose supplements wisely.

- Can you spot a red flag? Some dietary supplements on the market can contain unsafe ingredients and might even contain ingredients not listed on the label. If you are currently using or considering using a dietary supplement, ask yourself these questions to minimize your risk of consuming potentially harmful products. Click here to learn more.

- Get the Scoop on Supplements Module: Realize, Recognize, and Reduce your Risk. Click here to learn more.


 FDA 101: Dietary SupplementsExternal 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 


Non-Government

Natural Medicines External Link   

Natural Medicines gives you in-depth evidence-based information and ratings of safety and effectiveness on approximately 90,000 herbal products, dietary supplements, vitamins, minerals, complementary alternative medicines, integrative therapies, traditional Chinese medicines products, and other natural remedies.  Use your .mil email address to sign up for your free account.


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.