DOD website educates personnel about dietary supplements

  • Published
  • By Mark Wyatt
  • 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs
HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Dietary supplements that allege to improve fitness performance, health, strength and weight loss may result in adverse effects for those who use them, including a positive drug test.

In 2012, the assistant secretary for Health Affairs requested a Department of Defense-wide educational campaign on dietary supplements. In response, a consortium of military health agencies developed an educational campaign known as Operation Supplement Safety.

“At the center of this campaign is a website located at with the goal to increase awareness within the military community,” said Will Carpenter, 66th Medical Squadron Health Promotions manager. “The website provides several useful resources for personnel within the Department of Defense, including at Hanscom, about the potential health risks and how to choose safe dietary supplements.”

According to the site, OPSS includes partnerships with other government and professional organizations to provide evidence-based, up-to-date information on dietary supplements. OPSS educates service members and retirees, their family members and others about dietary supplements and gives them tools to be informed.

The website also includes an “Ask the Expert” feature in which Hanscom personnel can directly pose a question to a supplement expert. The focus of the OPSS website is to educate individuals on responsible dietary supplement use. For further information about this feature, visit  

“The site lets people view alerts and announcements about supplements,” said Carpenter. “It also provides a plethora of information about high-risk supplements and dietary supplement ingredients that are prohibited by the Department of Defense.”

Carpenter spoke about the many ways these supplements are commonly sold.

“Supplements come in the form of pills, capsules, gel-caps, powders, bars, sprays or even gum,” he said. “Members who use supplements such as energy drinks to improve concentration or help them stay awake should be aware that these drinks may contain up to 500 milligrams of caffeine per container, whereas a standard 8-ounce cup of coffee contains 100 mg of caffeine.”

He encourages anyone with questions about which supplements pose health risks to contact their primary care manager or visit Health Promotions personnel in Building 1540.

“The bottom line is this: before taking something you think will help you, do some research to ensure it actually does what it claims to do,” said Carpenter. “Your health and your military career may depend on it.”

The 66 MDS Health Promotions Program provides prevention and health enhancement information to all those with base access through a wide array of awareness, education and intervention programs.

For further information, contact Health Promotions at 781-225-6374.