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Supplement use
(U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Amanda N. Stencil)
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Do You Get it? Supplement use

Posted 8/19/2011   Updated 8/24/2011 Email story   Print story


by Health and Wellness Center
319th Air Base Wing

8/19/2011 - GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- The Health and Wellness Center is often asked if there is a list of all the Air Force banned supplements. Unfortunately, the world of dietary supplements, herbals and energy drinks is vast and ever-changing and it would be impossible to provide an all inclusive list. Instead, we would like to teach you how to be a wise supplement consumer and understand what to look for when considering dietary supplements.

Another comment that we hear often is that "All supplements and vitamins sold on base are legal and safe." Dietary supplements sold on military installations are not always safe, effective or legal.

Supplements, unlike drugs, are considered food products and therefore are not as strictly regulated. Manufacturers of dietary supplements are not required to conduct research on safety or effectiveness. The Food and Drug Administration must prove a product is unsafe before it can be taken off the market. Purity is also a common concern with supplements. Some may be contaminated with heavy metals, such as lead and even prescription medications. Consumers should also be aware that certain supplements and vitamins could interact with medications that they are taking or cause undesirable side effects.

There are some important steps to take before adding any dietary supplement to your intake. By following the steps listed below, you can help minimize the risks associated with consuming dietary supplements. Always talk with your healthcare provider before taking any type of dietary supplement.

Step 1: Assess safety of said product. A good rule of thumb would be to avoid supplements with long ingredient lists, or with "proprietary blend" or "alternative to..." listed anywhere.

Step 2: Effectiveness assessment. Look for clinically studied brand names and ask yourself what is the goal behind taking this supplement?

Step 3: Product Quality Assessment: Has the company voluntarily subjected this product to the US Pharmacopeia or Consumer Labs for testing? Does it contain what the label states it contains?

The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database is another great resource for evaluating supplements and ergogenic aids. It contains information on effectiveness, medication interactions, safety, and adverse reactions. It rates supplements on a scale of 1-10. Those with access to DoD computers should be able to access this website for no cost through the Human Performance Resource Center (

To learn more about how to be a wise supplement consumer, call the HAWC at 747-5546 or to sign up to attend "Supplements" class Aug. 17 from 3 - 4 p.m.

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