Health & Safety

April 17, 2014

Many unregulated nutritional supplements could be harmful

Airman 1st Class Thomas Spangler
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

With the summer season season fast approaching, many people are trying to get into shape.

In addition to regular exercise, many Airmen take supplements to help speed up the process. However, there are no regulations determining what manufacturers can and cannot put into these supplements.

Some of the many types of supplements that individuals take are meant for the user to lose weight. Since January 2011, the Food and Drug Administration has found more than 70 weight loss supplements that have the controlled substance sibutramine in them.

According to the FDA, sibutramine is known to substantially increase blood pressure and pulse rate in some patients. It may present a significant risk for patients with a history of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias or stroke.

“Any type of supplements used for weight loss, are really trying to get your heart rate going so your body is in fast mode to burns more calories,” said Senior Airman Michael McClelland, 99th Medical Support Squadron diet technician.

The entire FDA list of diet supplements known to have a hidden drug meant for weight loss can be found at: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/MedicationHealthFraud/ucm392814.htm

In addition to weight loss supplements, many individuals take weight gain supplements to help gain muscle mass. Just as with the weight loss supplements, individuals must be aware of what they are consuming.

Many individuals chose to consume whey protein after they lift weights to help gain muscle mass.

“For post work-out supplements like whey, it is safe, but as far as how good it is for you, that’s a different story. Our bodies don’t absorb whey protein very well. They’re meant to absorb protein and nutrients from food,” McClelland said. “If you’re taking whey protein and no other source, it’s not a good way to build muscle.”

If one is going to take whey as a post-workout muscle gainer, it is important to eat regular food to help build muscle and maintain a proper nutrient level.

Many individuals also take pre-workout supplements to enhance their workout.

“The majority of pre-workouts [are] just caffeine,” McClelland said. Caffeine is a stimulant, it will elevate the heart rate and cause a greater output of energy during physical exercise.

In addition to the numerous health reasons, individuals using dietary supplements should be wary because some of the ingredients might be banned by the Department of Defense. If these ingredients are found in an individual’s drug test, they may face possible disciplinary action.

Before taking any nutritional supplement, remember to research the ingredients and make sure they are safe and allowed to be used by military members.

For more information on dietary supplements go to the following link: hprc-online.org/dietary-supplements/OPSS and for maintaining good health and proper nutrition contact the Health and Wellness Center.




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(U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Airman 1st Class Alystria Maurer)

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