Health & Safety

August 30, 2012

Supplements: enhancement or professional hindrance?

Cpl. Shelby Shields
Desert Warrior Staff
Photo by Cpl. Sean Dennison

There seems to be an overwhelming question buzzing throughout the Corps, especially amongst those Marines who frequent the gym.

Is there a banned supplements list? If so, where can I find it?

Unfortunately, there is no real straight answer to this question.

“It’s not that there are banned supplements,” said Staff Sgt. Aaron Belford, the Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron Substance Abuse Counseling Officer. “There are banned substances, some of which can show up in the supplement formulas.”

Dietary supplements and their formulas are constantly updating and changing, making it near impossible to create a hard list of products.

“No supplement gets evaluated by the FDA (Federal Drug Administration) until there are enough instances of a problem directly linked to that supplement,” said Kate Osborne, the station Alcohol Abuse Prevention Specialist. “This is a really touchy issue because products are constantly being reevaluated and changed.”

As a general rule of thumb, the military as a whole follows the FDA’s banned supplements guidance. The Human Performance Resources Center website,, is constantly updated with the latest information from the FDA.

“This is a great resource for service members who are set on taking supplements,” said Nikki Dallam, station health educator. “No one is watching these supplement manufacturers so they can really put whatever they want into your supplements, until something bad happens, and they have to change it.”

There have been instances of supplement manufacturers putting illegal substances in their products to achieve the advertised results, which could leave a service member facing an administrative separation for drug use, simply because of an unregulated supplement.

“You really need to ask yourself, do you need this supplement,” stressed Osborne. “Is your career worth it?”

The health promotion’s office also stresses the importance of self education, consulting your doctor and using resources like the HPRC.

“No supplement is going to do the job for you, not safely anyway. There really is no substitute for a healthy diet and exercise plan,” added Dallam.

For more information on supplements, diet or other health related questions, contact Nikki Dallam at (928) 269-6642 or consult your physician.

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