In an effort to educate Marines about the various nutritional supplements available to them, the Corps is instituting Operation Supplement Safety, an education campaign running through November.
A study issued earlier this year by the San Diego-based Naval Health Research Center found that 47% of US soldiers have used supplements to either improve performance or lose weight. The Marine Corps has the highest percentage of supplement users with 16% taking supplements for weight loss, while 18% have taken performance-improving products such as creatine or protein powder.
Since the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate dietary supplements, users are relying on the manufacturer to list the active (and non-active) ingredients in each pill or powder. Since the FDA also doesn't test for the purity of supplements, manufacturing defects or errors can lead to unhealthy amounts of some ingredients in the products.
The military has already pulled some supplements off the shelves of military shops - Jack3d and OxyElite Pro both contain the ingredient 3-Dimethylamylamine (also known as DMAA) which was linked to the death of two Army soldiers earlier this year. Although not sold on base, these products are still available to civilians, and soldiers who shop online or off-base.
Operation Supplement Safety will attempt to spread knowledge by setting up information booths at base commissaries as well as public service announcements on the Armed Forces Network and at movie theaters.