The missing step in using supplements

Each of the supplements shown here, either health or pre-workout, can pose a risk to those taking them unless the proper steps are taken. Talking to a doctor, a nutritionist, or doing research can educate on what side effects or risks come with certain supplements. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman Zachary Chapman/Released)

Each of the supplements shown here, either health or pre-workout, can pose a risk to those taking them unless the proper steps are taken. Talking to a doctor, a nutritionist, or doing research can educate on what side effects or risks come with certain supplements. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman Zachary Chapman/Released)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --

Many people take supplements in one variation or another, but when recommendations or information on what is safe come from paid sponsors, then it becomes confusing.

“One thing that I want to push out to all the inbound students and all the base newcomers is that there is a website called opps.org, which is Operation Supplement Safety website,” said Elizabeth Burmeister, 17th Medical Group health promotion coordinator. “It is a website that gives you a list of all the red flagged ingredients in your supplements. Doctors may also report problems with specific supplements, and with enough complaints, an investigation will be launched.”

Using opps.org can be one step towards becoming educated on what is really in each supplement.

“There are different types of verifications that you can have on labels,” said Burmeister.
“They are called third party or kitchen labels and those are the ones that you want to look for.
They say, ‘hey these may not be safe for you, but they were produced safely’. This means that there is not going to be any types of synthetic, prescription drug or steroid laced in these supplements.”

Information from OPPS and as checking the labels narrows down the worries, but knowing what to look for is also key.

“Drug Demand Reduction, who is in charge of the drug testing on base, actually tested the products being sold at several locations on base a while back,” said Burmeister. “They found signs of red flag ingredients in products being sold that could cause someone to fail due to a false positive. Some health bars were sold on bases that contained hemp which could lead to a false positive. Supplements are not regulated by the FDA, so it comes down to being self-educated.”

Pre-workout supplements get a lot of attention for their dangers, but health supplements also require research.

“Taking a multivitamin is usually never a bad thing, but there’s a lot of things in that multivitamin that you might not need, so you may just be wasting your money,” said Burmeister. “This is a multibillion dollar industry and some of these you are just paying for very expensive urine since your body can’t even process it all. Some of them also promise you’ll lose all your pain in three days, be able to run, jump, skip and play with your grandkids again. There are some health supplements that have been shown to be dangerous in 1993, but are still for sale today. You have to know who you can trust.”

With guidance from a doctor or a nutrition specialist, it is possible to take supplements safely.

According to Zella Powers, Maximus Nutrition manager, an average of 40 people a day come through her store. People usually want to get something quickly, either a shake as a meal replacement or simply trying to stay healthy.

There is no rule or ban stopping the use of supplements. Users have resources, and the right guidance and knowledge on what is being consumed.