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Dietary Supplements Classification System

Make informed decisions about supplements with the Dietary Supplement Classification Table.

Click on the links below to jump to each section.
Supplements by Class

Supplements by Zone

Dietary Supplements Classification System–Risks and Benefits

Before using any dietary supplement, a Warfighter—or anyone—should ask: “What are the potential benefits?” and “What are the risks associated?” And finally, “Are the potential benefits worth the risks?” This Dietary Supplements Classification Table was developed to assist healthy military personnel in making informed decisions about supplements. Benefit was ranked on a scale of low, moderate, or high potential benefit. Safety concern was similarly ranked on a scale of minimal, low, moderate, or high concern.

For an alphabetical list of supplements, see here.

Dietary Supplements Classification Table

Click on the numbered cell in the
table to see the Dietary Supplements
in that Class and learn more about them.
Risk (Safety Concerns)
Minimal Low
Moderate High

Potential Benefit

1 2 7 9
Moderate 3 4 8 10
Low 5 6 11 12

Disclaimer: This table includes consideration of the safety and potential benefits of dietary supplements based on use at appropriate doses and availability of current data in the literature. The table is meant to be informative and not prescriptive. For individual guidance, consult with a designated health professional for your respective service or specific organization. Scores of 1-3 are in the "green zone," 4-8 in the "yellow zone," and 9-12 in the "red zone."

Supplements by Zone

Green Zone Yellow Zone Red Zone

Branched-Chain Amino Acids


Fish Oil/Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Beta-Alanine (B-Alanine)

Melatonin (for flight personnel)

Melatonin *Caffeine
Bitter Orange (Synephrine)
Multivitamins & Minerals
Testosterone Precursors/Boosters
and Anabolic Compounds
Coenzyme Q10

Weight-loss Supplements

Vitamin B Complex




Megavitamins & Minerals

Food-based Products

Sports Bars

Protein Powder (including whey)

**Energy Shots
Sports Drinks

*Energy Drinks

Sports Gels

*Excessive consumption is potentially dangerous and could lead to side effects and/or adverse reactions.
**Insufficient evidence to support a recommendation for use.
Note: Supplements in bold appear in more than one zone.

Supplements By Class

Class 1 (Green Zone) Supplements
Class 1 (Green Zone) supplements are those that are most likely to provide performance benefits with the least likelihood of adverse effects.
Class 2 (Green Zone) Supplements
Class 2 (Green Zone) dietary supplements that, like those in Class 1, have high potential of benefits. Their associated risks, while still low, are somewhat greater than for supplements in Class 1.
Class 3 (Green Zone) Supplements
Class 3 supplements are in the Green Zone because, like Class 1 supplements, they have minimal likelihood of presenting adverse side effects. However, their proposed benefits have only moderate potential.
Class 4 (Yellow Zone) Supplements
Class 4 supplements have low risk of adverse effects and only moderate potential benefits, placing them in the Yellow Zone.
Class 5 (Yellow Zone) Supplements
Class 5 (Yellow Zone) supplements have minimal associated risks, but their potential for positive results is low, so you may want to consider the likelihood of benefits before taking any of these.
Class 6 (Yellow Zone) Supplements
Class 6 supplements are in the Yellow Zone because, while their associated risks are still low, so are their potential benefits.
Class 7 (Yellow Zone) Supplements
Class 7 (Yellow Zone) supplements are those that have the same high potential benefits as those in Classes 1 and 2, but they are accompanied by moderate risks of experiencing undesirable side effects. Although their positive effects may seem promising, take a close look at the possible risks.
Class 8 (Yellow Zone) Supplements
Class 8 supplements are still in the Yellow Zone, but their moderate likelihood of adverse effects is accompanied by only moderate potential for positive results.
Class 9 (Red Zone) Supplements
Class 9 dietary supplements are in the Red Zone because, although they have high potential of producing beneficial effects, they also have high potential of producing undesirable—even dangerous—side effects. Consider the risks very carefully before thinking about using these supplements.
Class 10 (Red Zone) Supplements
Class 10 (Red Zone) supplements present high risks of adverse side effects, yet they have only moderate potential for positive results. Carefully weigh the likelihood of getting what you want out of these versus the possibility of getting something you don’t want.
Class 11 (Red Zone) Supplements
Class 11 supplements present moderate safety concerns, as for Class 7 and 8 supplements, but they fall in the Red Zone because they are unlikely to provide any benefits.
Class 12 (Red Zone) Supplements
Class 12 supplements are as far into the Red Zone as possible: They have a low potential of any producing benefits and are highly likely to produce dangerous side effects.