Supplement safety

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Alystria Maurer
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Many Airmen take supplements as a way of enhancing their health and stamina, but in addition to the perceived benefits, there are also potential side effects.

Lt. Col. Imelda Reedy, 28th Medical Operations Squadron commander and chief nurse, said the Federal Drug Administration does not approve dietary supplements for safety and effectiveness before manufacturers begin marketing their products.

"Since the FDA has no control over supplements before they are released for sale, Airmen must be cautious of what is in them," Reedy said. "After the substance reaches the market and concerns are raised, it is then in the hands of the FDA to determine if it's safe."

Reedy explained that Airmen should consider a number of things before taking supplements.

"Supplements affect everyone's body differently and it is wise to consult with a provider to determine if further tests like a simple blood test, is warranted to make sure there aren't any problems with your body that could be affected by using a supplement," said Reedy.

Reedy emphasized the fact that many supplements contain active ingredients that may become altered chemically and will have a biological effect in the body. She said using dietary supplements alone or with certain prescriptions or taken improperly could result in harm or even life-threatening consequences including death.

"If Airmen have already consulted their doctor and are planning on taking supplements, we encourage them to make sure they are following the directions of use," said Reedy. "Many people make the mistake of taking more than directed or not taking the breaks as instructed on the supplement which can cause serious harm to their bodies."

Reedy added that under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Airmen are required to be conscious of what they put into their bodies. She said some substances that are found in supplements are banned for military members and could damage an Airman's career if detected during a random urinalysis test.

"Airmen are ultimately responsible for checking if the supplements they plan to take have banned ingredients in them," said Staff Sgt. Crystal Frazier, 28th Medical Operations Squadron dietary technician. "If Airmen aren't sure about a particular supplement, they can ask their physician or visit the Operation Supplement Safety website."

For more information or to check to see if a supplement has a banned ingredient in it, Airmen can schedule an appointment with their physician or visit