What’s in your supplement?

  • Published
  • By April McDonald
  • Tinker Public Affairs
The Department of Defense is rolling out a new campaign aimed at helping Airmen get the scoop on dietary supplements.

Through the Operation Supplement Safety Campaign, officials hope to educate service members, DOD civilians, retirees and their family members about the dangers of using some dietary supplements.

"Many people do not even know the definition of a supplement or that they are not approved by anyone," said Wendi Knowles, Tinker Health and Wellness Center dietitian. "The safety of the product is the responsibility of the manufacturer."

Dietary supplements are described as products containing one or more dietary ingredients -- such as macronutrients, vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals -- intended to supplement the diet. They can be in the form of a capsule, powder or liquid.
Ms. Knowles said service members often use dietary supplements to help improve their fitness performance, for bodybuilding or to help them lose weight. Unfortunately, the use of some supplements does a body more damage than good.

Unlike regulations on medical drugs, which are closely monitored by the Food and Drug Administration and Drug Enforcement Agency, there are few regulations placed on manufacturers of supplements. The manufacturers don't have to register their products or get approval for the claims they make. Because the U.S. government doesn't review dietary supplements before they hit the market, it is up to each individual to do their research before taking a supplement.

"In most cases a supplement is not pulled off the shelf until they prove harm by someone dying," Ms. Knowles said.

The campaign website -- http://hprc-online.org/ -- contains up to date dietary supplement information, provides ratings on the latest supplements, allows you to look up a supplement to help you based on symptoms, lists frequently asked questions and has short informational videos such as how to read supplement product labels. To sign up for your account, be sure to use your DOD email to get access to the database for free.

"This campaign is designed to let DOD employees know that they have a free resource to use to look up the supplements and get detailed, up-to-date information on what science based information is out there on the supplement they are interested in taking," Ms. Knowles said. "They can also ask an expert about anything related to supplements they may want to know -- again all free."

For more information on this campaign or to schedule a unit briefing regarding supplement use, call Ms. Knowles at 736-2169.