Practicing safe supplement use

by Senior Airman Timmethy D. James and Senior Airman Savannah L. Waters
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Airman 1st Class Yuyi Jiang, 86th Dental Squadron dental assistant technician, throws a container of supplements in the air during a photo shoot Sept. 13, 2017, on Ramstein Air Base. Operation Supplement Safety is a Department of Defense dietary supplement resource for the military community, leaders, healthcare providers, and Department of Defense civilians. Operation Supplement Safety has an official published list of dietary supplement “ingredients” currently prohibited by the DOD, which service members can find on the OPSS website. — Photo by Senior Airman Savannah L. Waters

When people hear the word “supplement,” some tend to think about gym weights clashing and sweat, but supplements are used for far more than just getting “swole” or losing weight. There are a myriad of reasons people choose to take a supplement, but service members should be cognizant of what is in a supplement and the potential risks involved before making that choice.

Operation Supplement Safety is a Department of Defense dietary supplement resource for the military community, leaders, healthcare providers, and Department of Defense civilians. Operation Supplement Safety has an official published list of dietary supplement “ingredients” currently prohibited by the DOD, which service members can find on the OPSS website.

“Supplement manufacturers are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration or any other governmental entity, and can choose to not screen their products,” said Brian Kirby, 86th Aerospace Medicine Squadron Kaiserslautern Military Com-munity health promotion coordinator. “As a result, there are some supplements that are deemed banned or illegal to Olympic and professional athletes, military members, and other select groups of society.”


There are supplements for weight loss, weight gain, boosting sexual performance, and sustaining energy, Kirby said.

The OPSS website provides tips for fitness and performance, dietary supplement ingredients, weight loss, general health, and a dietary supplement system to help supplement users make informed decisions.

Operation Supplement Safety also maintains a list of tainted products marketed as dietary supplements, and other announcements for the supplement user community.

“The outcome of a urinalysis test may show positive for an illegal drug that was sold under the auspices of being a supplement,” said Joseph Foster, Ramstein’s base exchange health store supervisor.

Though they may not be illegal supplements, there are some that may produce effects that are illegal by ingesting them. However, customers can feel comfortable purchasing from on base, Foster said.

Ramstein’s health store is the only health store at any DOD installation owned by the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, and therefore is government regulated, so there are no DOD-banned products sold in the store or the main BX.

“The Army and Air Force Exchange Service and GNC are not responsible for the misuse of any supplement, so people are encouraged to read labels and follow directions accordingly,” Foster said.

Every year there are stories of injury, illness, and disease as a result of supplement misuse. Just like food and drugs, service members should be careful about what they put in their bodies.

It’s also very important for service members to know what can be ingested along with prescribed medications or any other over-the-counter medicine. Always consult with a medical professional, and monitor your supplement use.