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Protecting military personnel from high risk dietary supplements.

Publication Status: Published

Sponsoring Organization: Defense Health Agency (formerly TRICARE Management Activity)

Sponsoring Office: Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences

Congressionally Mandated: No

Funding Source: Undetermined

Release Date/Publication: October 01, 2015

Principle Investigator Status: Government

Primary DoD Data Source: Other

Secondary DoD Data Source:


It is legal to market most naturally occurring substances as dietary supplements in the USA without manufacturers demonstrating they are safe or effective, and an endless variety of ingredients, from esoteric botanicals to unapproved pharmaceuticals, can be found in dietary supplements. Use of certain supplements can pose a risk, but since a robust reporting system does not exist in the USA it is difficult to know which are problematic and the number of adverse events (AE) resulting from their use. Certain populations, including military personnel, are more likely to use dietary supplements than the general population. Approximately 70% of military personnel take dietary supplements while about 50% of civilians do. Service members prefer supplements purported to enhance physical performance such as supposedly natural stimulants, protein and amino acids, and combination products. Since some of these may be problematic, Service members are probably at higher risk of injury than the general population. Ten percent of military populations appear to be taking potentially risky supplements, and the US Department of Defense (DoD) has taken various measures to protect uniformed personnel including education, policy changes, and restricting sales. Actions taken include launching Operation Supplement Safety (OPSS), introducing a High Risk Supplement list, educating health care professionals on reporting AE that might be associated with dietary supplements, recommending policy for reporting AE, and developing an online AE reporting system. OPSS is a DoD-wide effort to educate service members, leaders, health care providers, military families, and retirees on how to safely select supplements


Deuster PA, Lieberman HR. Protecting military personnel from high risk dietary supplements. Drug Test Anal. 2015 Oct 16.

Last Updated: February 21, 2019
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