Committee on the Use of Dietary Supplements by Military Personnel

Type: Consensus Study
Topics: Biomedical and Health Research, Environmental Health, Food and Nutrition, Select Populations and Health Disparities, Substance Use and Mental Health, Military and Veterans Health
Board: Food and Nutrition Board

Activity Description

This project was sponsored by the Department of Defense, The Samueli Institute and the National Institutes of Health. The approximate start date for the project was September 30, 2006. An expert committee analyzed the patterns of dietary supplement use among military personnel, and by examining published reviews of the scientific evidence, the committee identified those patterns that are beneficial and/or warrant concern due to risks to health or performance. The committee developed a system to monitor adverse health effects, and recommended a framework to identify the need for actively managing dietary supplement use by military personnel. Specifically, the committee:

  1. Reviewed survey data and findings, which was made available to the committee, related to supplement use by military personnel to identify: a) which dietary supplements are of most prevalent use with consideration for differences according to demographic grouping factors such as age, rank, sex, deployment status, military occupational specialty, organization and unit; and b) expectations of benefits and reasons for use of dietary supplements by military personnel.
  2. Identified information gaps regarding dietary supplement use by military personnel and recommended processes and designs by which current and future usage of supplements (including dosages, quality, and forms of supplement) should be monitored, surveyed, analyzed, reported, and shared.
  3. Selected a limited number of dietary supplements, from those identified in question one as commonly used. On the basis of already published reports that reviewed the available scientific evidence, identified those that may be of benefit and/or pose serious hazards to the health and/or physical and cognitive performance capability of military personnel and determined whether further examination and integrative evaluation or research is warranted. Considered potential effects of supplement withdrawal and interactions.
  4. Considered existing military policies for managing dietary supplements. Assessed the applicability to a military setting of the framework outlined in the IOM report, Dietary Supplements: A Framework to Evaluate Safety, and determined how it could be modified to determine which supplements need active management by the military.
  5. Developed a model that could be followed to monitor military personnel for adverse health effects that might indicate a concern associated with consumption of dietary supplements.

 The final report was issued on June 10, 2008.

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