Skip the supplement shortcut
December 26, 2013
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (Dec. 26, 2013) -- Do you want arms like Rocky? There's a shake for that. How about the thin waistline of your favorite Hollywood starlet? Then try this pill. Name your physical wish and some company claims their product can make your dreams a reality, and fast. The days of hard work are over - well, not quite.
A dietary supplement may help you shed pounds like a snake sheds skin; the Army Performance Triad asks, at what cost? The Performance Triad Leader's Guide and Planner cautions, "Dietary supplements are not a magic bullet - they cannot offset the unfavorable effects of poor food choices."
Some Soldiers may not even know what they're consuming when they take a dietary supplement and are instead focused on the product's advertised results.
"What's in it? Is it safe? Do I really need it? Has it been tested by a third party?" asked Maj. Suzanne A. Akuley, the senior nutrition consultant at Madigan Army Medical Center.
Instead of taking a pill, Akuley suggested trying an alternate form of sustenance - actual food.
"The foods that we eat basically have an abundance of vitamins and minerals. You know you are getting something that is safer to consume as opposed to a proprietary product," she said.
Some supplements may be more than bad for your health, they could be illegal. The Human Performance Resource Center, a Department of Defense initiative, listed more than 60 illegal supplements on the market in April 2013. The products all contained the federally banned stimulant DMAA, also known as 1,3-dimethylamylamine, methylhexanamine or geranium extract.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, "DMAA can elevate blood pressure and lead to cardiovascular problems ranging from shortness of breath and tightening in the chest to heart attack."
Other supplements can cause side effects like increased or decreased heart rate, headaches or nausea. Because the FDA does not screen dietary supplements before they hit shelves, the long-term health effects of many products are unknown.
The word "supplement" denotes there is a deficiency to begin with. If you are living a healthy lifestyle, to include a balanced diet, then dietary supplements are also a waste of money.
If you still feel supplements are right for you, learn as much as you can about a product before taking it. Check out the Natural Medicine Comprehensive Database for information about more than 86,000 products. The database is updated daily, and access to the consumer version is free for all service members.
For more information on dietary supplements and access to the Natural Medicine Comprehensive Database, visit the Operation Supplement Safety website at http://hprc-online.org/dietary-supplements/opss.
For more information about the Performance Triad, visit http://www.armymedicine.mil.