The use of dietary supplements has become increasingly popular among members of the military. While some supplements may provide benefits to health, others could carry adverse effects that might compromise the readiness and performance of service members. The U.S. Department of Defense, the Samueli Institute, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), with additional support from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), requested that the Institute of Medicine (IOM) convene an ad hoc Committee on Dietary Supplement Use Among Military Personnel. The committee was charged with reviewing the use of dietary supplements by military personnel, recommending a framework to identify the need for management of dietary supplement use within the military, and developing an approach to report adverse health events.
The committee's report, entitled Use of Dietary Supplements by Military Personnel, recommends a systematic approach to actively manage the use of dietary supplements by military service members. The three components to the overall approach include:
A system to monitor the use of dietary supplements by military personnel
A framework to determine the level of concern for dietary supplements in a military context
A system to report adverse events associated with dietary supplements
Key activities to ensure the success of this approach are information sharing as well as educational and outreach efforts. The committee recommends that a forum is established for the exchange of data and information related to dietary supplements. The committee also recommends that military service members, commanders, and health care personnel are educated about dietary supplements, their effects, and the importance of adverse event reporting.
The committee also recommends that the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) designate a committee or an entity to be responsible for the oversight and coordination of dietary supplement related activities, and provide guidance to the military leadership about other activities related to the management of dietary supplement use (e.g. research, outreach and education, adverse event reporting).