By Scott Prater
The Schriever Health and Wellness Center is focusing on the safe use of supplements during a campaign that began this month.
Recent events involving pre-workout supplements have predicated the Department of Defense to initiate a new safety campaign, called Operation Supplement Safety.
Staff Sgt. Vanessa Arthur, diet therapist at the Schriever HAWC, explains that active duty and Reserve Airmen, retirees, family members and DoD civilans now have a valuable informational tool that will help them not only choose the best supplement to suit their fitness goals, but also help them avoid dangerous products.
“The website, http://hprc-online.org, can help people on a wide variety of levels,” Arthur said. “It’s really a one-stop research shop for almost anything you want to know about popular supplements.”
Dietary supplements have become a major industry in the United States, mainly because their makers can claim their products produce spectacular results. But, Arthur cautioned potential supplement users to conduct extensive research before using them because they are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
If someone wants to lose weight, be able to lift more weight or have more energy during their workouts, those situations aren’t medical conditions, so supplement companies can claim that their products increase energy levels by 25 percent, regardless as to whether that’s true.
“It’s easy to find advertisements on the internet that tout products as the best pre-workout supplements available,” Arthur said. “Some contain 1,3-dimethylamylamine, also known as DMAA, an ingredient that has been banned by the governments of Australia and Canada due to concerns about the safety of the drug, which has been linked to high blood pressure, headaches, vomiting, strokes, cardiac disorders, and death. It has also been temporarily removed from store shelves DoD wide.”
The new DoD website not only informs readers on DMAA, it also discusses the ingredient’s side effects, how it interacts with other substances such as caffeine and relevant news about the product.
“This site will provide that information,” Arthur said. “But, it also will tell you about how effective a supplement is on a scale from one to 10. It goes on to explain the pros and cons of individual supplements and it explains what each ingredient does to the human body.”
Tech. Sgt. Ryan Gangadeen, 1st Space Operations Squadron’s unit fitness program manager, said he is constantly asked for dietary supplement advice, so he sought help from Arthur to get the latest guidance.
“Sergeant Arthur sent me the website address and I was impressed,” he said. “The site was easy to navigate and it’s different from other fitness websites in that it allows you to search for a specific supplement.”
Arthur explained that the new website’s true value stems from its reliability of information.
In the past, if an Air Force member wanted to research a supplement on the internet, they would have to sift through the multiples of sites that tout the product. Many of those sites are owned and operated by the supplement manufacturer so it’s difficult to determine if you’re receiving legitimate information or a paid advertisement disguised as an independent fitness site.
“This website and campaign aims to make people more aware and it should help those who want to know exactly what they’re putting into their bodies,” she said. “It does the research for you.”
Arthur said HAWC staff will hang posters, set up an information table outside the dining facility and brief squadron and group commanders on supplement safety at the wing standup.
For more information about supplement safety contact the Schriever HAWC at 567-4292.