+1 Recommend
0 collections
      • Record: found
      • Abstract: found
      • Article: found
      Is Open Access

      Self-reported dietary supplement use in deployed United States service members pre-deployment vs. during deployment, Afghanistan, 2013–2014

      Read this article at

          There is no author summary for this article yet. Authors can add summaries to their articles on ScienceOpen to make them more accessible to a non-specialist audience.



          Dietary supplement use (protein/amino acids, weight-loss supplements, performance enhancers) is common among U.S. military members. Reported dietary supplement use in deployed troops is limited and is of concern in settings where troops are exposed to high ambient temperatures, increased physical demands, and dehydration. Our objective was to describe dietary supplement use and adverse events (AEs) among deployed U.S. service members compared with their pre-deployment use.


          We conducted an institutional review board (IRB) approved, descriptive study in Afghanistan using a written questionnaire and collected demographic information, dietary supplement use before and during deployment, AEs associated with supplement use, and physical workout routines. Participants were U.S. military personnel of all branches of service deployed to Afghanistan. They were recruited in high-traffic areas in the combat theater. We analyzed the data with descriptive statistics. Paired t-test/Wilcoxon signed-rank test was conducted to examine the before/during deployment changes for continuous data, and McNemar’s chi-square test was conducted for categorical data. We constructed separate logistic regression models to determine the best predictors of increases or decreases in dietary supplement use, with demographic information, reasons for using supplements, and education requested/received as covariates in each model. All statistical tests were two-sided at a significance level of 5% ( P < 0.05).


          Data were collected on 1685 participants. Ninety-seven of the participants were in the Army or Air Force.

          The participants were more likely to work out daily or more than once a day during deployment. Thirty-five percent of the participants reported no supplement use before or during deployment. The remaining 65% of participants reported increased use and increased frequency of use of supplements (e.g., daily) during deployment compared with pre-deployment. Additionally, more people followed label instructions strictly during deployment vs. pre-deployment.

          Overall, the frequency of self-reported AEs among supplement users remained consistent before and during deployment. The only significant difference noted was in problems falling or staying asleep, which increased during deployment. In the adjusted logistic regression models, the level of formal education, military branch, occupational specialty, education about dietary supplements, and certain reasons for using supplements (to boost energy, lose weight, gain muscle strength and mass, and as a meal replacement) were significant predictors of changes in supplement use.


          Deployed U.S. service members were more likely to use dietary supplements, use more than one supplement and use supplements more frequently during deployment than pre-deployment. No serious AEs were reported, but problems falling or staying asleep increased during deployment.

          Electronic supplementary material

          The online version of this article (10.1186/s40779-017-0141-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

          Related collections

          Most cited references 19

          • Record: found
          • Abstract: found
          • Article: not found

          Trends in Dietary Supplement Use Among US Adults From 1999-2012.

          Dietary supplements are commonly used by US adults; yet, little is known about recent trends in supplement use.
            • Record: found
            • Abstract: found
            • Article: not found

            Emergency Department Visits for Adverse Events Related to Dietary Supplements.

            Dietary supplements, such as herbal or complementary nutritional products and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), are commonly used in the United States, yet national data on adverse effects are limited.
              • Record: found
              • Abstract: found
              • Article: not found

              Use of dietary supplements among active-duty US Army soldiers.

              US Army soldiers engage in strenuous activities and must maintain fitness and body weight to retain their jobs. Anecdotal reports suggest that the use of dietary supplements (DSs) by soldiers may reflect their unique occupational requirements and the complexity of their job and family responsibilities. We assessed the use of DSs by soldiers. We conducted a survey of 990 randomly selected soldiers at 11 army bases globally. Data were weighted by age, sex, rank, and Special Forces status to represent the active-duty army. Overall, 53% of soldiers reported the use of DSs ≥1 time/wk; 23% of soldiers used sports beverages, 6% of soldiers used sports bars or gels, and 3% of soldiers reported the use of meal-replacement beverages. Most commonly used DSs were multivitamins or multiminerals (37.5%), protein and amino acids (18.7%), individual vitamins and minerals (17.9%), combination products (9.1%), and herbal supplements (8.3%). Many soldiers reported the use of performance-enhancement and weight-reduction products, and 22% of soldiers consumed ≥3 different DSs/wk. Logistic regression modeling indicated that older age, educational attainment, higher body mass index, and strength training were associated with DS use (P $50/mo. Soldiers, like civilians, use large amounts of DSs, often in combination. Soldiers use more DSs purported to enhance performance than civilians use when matched for key demographic factors. These differences may reflect the unique occupational demands and stressors of military service.

                Author and article information

                210-916-7111 ,
                Mil Med Res
                Mil Med Res
                Military Medical Research
                BioMed Central (London )
                26 October 2017
                26 October 2017
                : 4
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0001 0629 5880, GRID grid.267309.9, University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, ; 7709 Floyd Curl Dr, San Antonio, TX 78229 USA
                [2 ]San Antonio Military Medical Center, 3551 Roger Brooke Drive, San Antonio, TX 78234 USA
                [3 ]ISNI 0000 0001 0369 638X, GRID grid.239638.5, Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center, Denver Health and Hospital Authority, ; Denver, CO USA
                [4 ]U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research, USAF En Route Care Research Center, 3698 Chambers Pass STE B, JBSA Ft Sam Houston, San Antonio, TX 78234 USA
                [5 ]ISNI 0000 0001 0703 675X, GRID grid.430503.1, Department of Emergency Medicine, , University of Colorado School of Medicine, ; 13001 E 17th Place, Aurora, CO 80045 USA
                © The Author(s). 2017

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                Custom metadata
                © The Author(s) 2017

                adverse events, military, exercise, workout, dietary supplement


                Comment on this article