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Supplement usage in the Air Force today

Airmen should be aware of the side effects regarding supplement usage and the negative effects it can lead to in the workplace, including loss of concentration, uneasy heart murmurs, and other potential health problems leading to work-stoppage. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Andrew Crawford)

Airmen should be aware of the side effects regarding supplement usage and the negative effects it can lead to in the workplace, including loss of concentration, uneasy heart murmurs, and other potential health problems leading to work-stoppage. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Andrew Crawford)

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Service members in the U.S. military, including Airmen, are held to a high standard of physical fitness training. Depending on any injury and health concerns an individual may have, there are times it is hard to meet those standards without help.

Turning to dietary supplement usage can help with keeping up with physical fitness requirements, including their overall physical look.

However, many of the dietary supplements on the market can cause long term health concerns including heart and liver problems.

Supplements require individuals to follow directions on the bottle for optimal use. Many of the substances state they should not be taken with caffeine, yet individuals sometimes fail to listen or follow these important instructions.

Minot Air Force Base has a unique mission that depends heavily on its Personal Reliability Program to police individuals tasked with the everyday mission of upholding nuclear deterrence.

Airmen should be aware of the side effects regarding supplement usage and the negative effects it can lead to in the workplace, including loss of concentration, uneasy heart murmurs, and other potential health problems leading to work-stoppage.

Airmen in the PRP program can use dietary supplements, but should consult the PRP office if there are any questions as to its possible work inhibitors.

The Human Performance Resource Center, a Department of Defense initiative under the Force Health Protection and Readiness Program, has created a campaign called "Operation Supplement Safety" to help guide military personnel and medical professionals with the use of supplements.

According to the organization's evidence-based studies focusing on single nutrients. Dietary supplements are not only expensive but do offer the benefits that a balanced and varied diet can. Consuming isolated single compounds, as in dietary supplements, rarely have the same beneficial effect as eating the whole foods.

"You just don't know what kind of drugs you're taking in," said Benavides. "You just don't know how much of specific drugs and caffeine is in some of this stuff."

Airmen who use over the counter dietary supplements have reported feeling the negative effects of their use.

"Just a week ago, we had an Airman come in for headaches and he said he could hear his pulse beating in his ears. He was feeling sick," said Benavides. "The night before he had taken a new substance."

Many individuals think that because a supplement is carried on a shelf on base that it must be safe for them to ingest. Many of the supplements offered today are banned by the National Football League.

"Just because these supplements say they are all natural and safe doesn't mean they are good for you," said Benavides.

The Department of Defense does not maintain a list of dietary supplements or supplement ingredients that are "allowed" or "banned." If the Food and Drug Administration or the Drug Enforcement Administration has not banned or declared an ingredient or dietary supplement product illegal, then DoD does not consider it banned or illegal.

However, the FDA has found that many dietary supplements-especially weight-loss, bodybuilding, and sexual-enhancement products-contain undeclared drug ingredients, which could be potentially harmful and/or produce unwanted results in a urinalysis test. To date, the FDA has declared two dietary supplement ingredients as illegal: ephedra and DMAA.

The Air Force has also banned products that contain hemp seed oil and any anabolic steroids.

If an Airman ingests a supplement and becomes ill to the point that they can no longer be a part of the Air Force mission that Airman may not qualify for some or all of the medical retirement benefits usually offered to medical discharges.

There is more and more information being published for anyone interested to see. One excellent site is the Human Performance Resource Center. You can find important information at HTTP://HPRC-ONLINE.ORG.
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