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Is there a list of dietary supplements/substances banned by the military?

There is no banned dietary supplement list in the military, but you can learn how to make informed decisions about dietary supplement use.

Lately, HPRC has been receiving a lot of questions about the use of banned supplements in the military, but the fact is: There isn’t a list of banned dietary supplements currently available. It isn’t always easy to determine whether a dietary supplement product is safe or not, so the Department of Defense (DoD), together with HPRC, provides helpful resources on the Operation Supplement Safety (OPSS) website to help you choose supplements wisely. With regard to the military’s stance on supplements in general, please see the OPSS FAQ about a "banned list," which is pertinent to all service branches.

Some dietary supplements, including ones sold on military installations, contain potentially harmful and problematic ingredients. For some tips about how to avoid these, read the OPSS infosheet “Red Flags—What You Need to Know.” In addition, some other potentially dangerous ingredients include prescription drug ingredients and their analogs, drugs banned by FDA for safety reasons, controlled substances (such as anabolic steroids), and untested/unstudied new active drug ingredients, which may not be listed on the product label.

One way to ensure that a dietary supplement product is safe is to see if it is third-party verified. Third-party certification organizations have developed criteria for evaluating and authenticating the quality of a supplement—the ingredients, the dosage levels, the level of contaminants, the label claims, and whether the manufacturing facilities follow Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).

The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database (NMCD) is the gold standard for evidence-based information on dietary supplement products and ingredients and is an HPRC partner. (Subscription is free if you have a “.mil” email address; visit the OPSS FAQ for more information.) NMCD rates products on a scale of 1 to 10 based on safety and effectiveness. We encourage you to consider only using products rated 8 or above.

To avoid potential problems, talk with your healthcare provider or dietitian before using dietary supplements. Also, see FDA’s list of tainted bodybuilding products, which includes important public notifications.

DoD’s DMAA report

The DoD Safety Review Panel has completed its review of DMAA, and the report is now available on HPRC’s website. The result is that DMAA-containing products will no longer be sold on military installations.

The Department of Defense (DoD) Safety Review Panel published their findings on DMAA in a recent report now available through HPRC. The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs asked the Safety Review Panel to evaluate the safety of DMAA-containing dietary supplement products. The Panel has recommended that the sale of DMAA-containing products be prohibited in all military exchanges.

HPRC maintains a list of dietary supplement products containing DMAA and periodically updates this list. The most recent version can be found on HPRC’s website. Note that, as of the FDA announcement in April 2013, DMAA is illegal in the U.S. as an ingredient in dietary supplements. For more information, visit the OPSS FAQ about DMAA. Operation Supplement Safety (OPSS) can provide service members and their families with information to make informed decisions about dietary supplement use. For the full DoD Safety Review Panel report, see the link on HPRC's Dietary Supplements web page.

Introducing Operation Live Well – a DoD health campaign

Filed under: DoD, Health, Wellness
DoD’s new Operation Live Well campaign is designed to make healthy living an easy option for service members.

Operation Live Well is a new wellness campaign by the Department of Defense that aims to make healthy living the easy choice and the norm for service members, retirees, DoD civilians, and their families. They point out resources for how to eat better, stay physically active, quit or avoid tobacco, and stay mentally fit. The educational, outreach, and behavior-change initiatives provide tools and resources to help you learn about healthy lifestyles. You’ll also be able to develop your own personalized health plan via the Operation Live Well website soon.

A second part of Operation Live Well is their Healthy Base Initiative (HBI), which aims to help the defense community reach or maintain a healthy weight and avoid tobacco use. Scheduled for launch during the summer of 2013 at 13 military installations and DoD sites worldwide, HBI will offer a range of installation-tailored, health-related programs that will be measured for their effectiveness. The programs that are most successful will eventually be expanded to other installations.

For more information on Operation Live Well, visit militaryonesource.mil/olw.

Online tool for triumphing over difficulties

HPRC Fitness Arena: Mind Tactics, Total Force Fitness
There’s a new website for Warfighters and Veterans that can help you face and overcome life’s challenges – especially useful for the upcoming holiday season.

With the holidays upon us, the number of problems that you have to solve might be kicking up a notch or two. A Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs initiative, Moving Forward, has a website that gives you tools for “overcoming life’s challenges.” As you encounter challenges this holiday season, give their module a test run—it takes you through a step-by-step process for solving problems. They suggest:

  1. Define the problem and set goals
  2. Come up with alternative solutions.
  3. Pick one solution
  4. Put your solution into action and analyze the outcome.

HPRC’s website also has useful information on stress management.

A new approach to prevent non-combat injuries

The heavy loads that active duty service men and women have to carry during deployments and training are taking a toll. Extensive research continues on how to reduce body armor weight and decrease the risk of associated non-combat injuries.

Body armor, in addition to necessary equipment and supplies, well exceeds the recommended carrying maximum of 50 pounds. The DoD was asked by Congress to conduct a research project to explore the possibility of lightening body armor without sacrificing protection. Currently, the research shows it does not seem possible to make body armor out of a lighter material while still adequately protecting the individual. However, leaders are taking a more preventative approach to reducing injuries on the battlefield. These include changes in pre-deployment training, as well as an increased number of deployed physical and occupational therapists and improvements in forward-deployed care centers.

Operation Live Well

HPRC Fitness Arena: Nutrition, Total Force Fitness
Operation Live Well, a recently launched campaign from the Department of Defense, seeks to promote and sustain the health of service members, families, veterans, and retirees.

Are you looking for ways to promote your health or the health of your family? Operation Live Well, a DoD initiative, provides a wealth of information each month on a targeted topic. September is National Cholesterol Education Month and National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. High blood cholesterol puts you at risk for heart disease, the number one killer of men and women in the United States. Encouraging family physical fitness can instill a lifetime of healthy habits and decrease risks for problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Check back often to see new topics and explore methods to improve and sustain your well-being!

Dietary supplements and drug testing

Want to know if your dietary supplement or prescription drug product will affect your drug test? Consult with DoD laboratories for help.

HPRC has received a number of questions about whether dietary supplements—especially those used for bodybuilding and weight loss—could result in a positive result on military drug tests.

Military drug testing begins with urine, which is first screened and then followed by additional tests depending on the outcome of the screen. You can get extensive information about DoD’s drug policy and drug testing from the Drug Demand Reduction Program (DDRP), including military testing. And for answers about the potential effects of specific dietary supplements on drug screening tests, you can contact your service’s military drug-testing laboratory by phone or email at:

Positive urinalysis results due to dietary supplement use can occur because products on the market may contain undeclared drug ingredients—that is, controlled substances that are not stated/listed on the product label. More information can be found in the FDA Consumer Update There you will also find information about how to get updates about products FDA has identified as tainted. There is no way to know if a particular supplement contains an undeclared drug without laboratory testing, but FDA does keep track of such products once identified through its MedWatch program.

The Department of Defense (DoD) currently has no formal policy on the use of dietary supplements and no list of either banned or safe supplements. For more on this topic, see Operation Supplement Safety’s (OPSS) FAQ “Is there an all-encompassing list of dietary supplements that are banned or illegal for use by military personnel?”

HPRC at the DoD/USDA Family Resilience Conference

HPRC Fitness Arena:
Representatives of the HPRC, DCoE, and USUHS presented a workshop on a new model for military family fitness at a conference in April.

The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (Resilience and Prevention Directorate), Uniformed Services University, and the Human Performance Resource Center ran a three-hour workshop introducing the Military Family Fitness Model at the DoD/USDA Family Resilience Conference last week (April 26-29) in Chicago, IL. The workshop focused on describing the newly developed process-oriented, multi-level model for total military family fitness, including how service members and their families, leaders, policy makers, and program managers can achieve and maintain family fitness (following the Total Force Fitness paradigm). Key aspects of the model were also described, such as family stressors, strengths, resources, and outcomes.

Deep breathing, guided imagery, mindfulness, and cognitive restructuring were taught as practical skills that can help control family members’ stress. Guidelines were also given for family communication and problem-solving skills designed to enhance family functioning and resilience. A military case study was presented to allow participants to practice the application of the Total Family Fitness model.

To see a copy of the workshop that was presented, click here; for more complete information, please read the abstract of the presentation.

DCoE's (Defense Centers of Excellence) report [PDF] on the Family Conference can be read here.

To learn more integrative mind-body strategies, visit HPRC's Mind Tactics domain and the Defense Centers of Excellence newly published paper on Mind-Body Skills for Regulating the Autonomic Nervous System.

To learn more family strengthening strategies, visit HPRC's Family & Relationships domain.

Presenters of the model were COL Stephen Bowles, Ph.D. (USUHS), Colanda Cato, Ph.D. (DCoE), Monique Moore, Ph.D. (DCoE), and Liz Davenport Pollock, MS, LGMFT (HPRC).

Acknowledgements: Force Health Protection and Readiness, Psychological Health Strategic Operation; Military Community & Family Policy; Air Force Air Education and Training Command; Military Family Research Institute; and Defense Centers of Excellence.

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