BAMC kicks off dietary supplement safety campaign

  • Published
  • By Andrea Lindsey, MS; Lindsay Vander Molen, MPH; and Lt. Col. Tanisha Currie, PhD, MA, RN, BSN-RN
  • Brooke Army Medical Center Public Affairs

Brooke Army Medical Center launched its first Dietary Supplement Safety Campaign to inform healthcare providers, service members, patients, and visitors about safe dietary supplement use.

BAMC teamed up with the Operation Supplement Safety team from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences for the campaign. The primary goal is to provide education and helpful dietary supplement safety awareness tools for consumers to make informed choices.

BAMC and the OPSS team created patient-focused informational cards on dietary supplement use and potential safety hazards with drug interaction precautions. The dietary supplement safety awareness cards were distributed by BAMC’s pharmacy leaders throughout the hospital’s inpatient and outpatient pharmacy areas and will also be distributed to service member training areas.

The campaign reached across several main installation sites including retail stores, dining areas, and gym facilities with marketing aids to connect consumers with the OPSS site portal.

“Providing the cards is yet another way to discuss the potential hazards of not discussing OTC (over the counter) supplements with your provider,” said Lt. Col. Todd Reeder, BAMC chief, department of pharmacy. “Plus, it allows the pharmacy team to address any questions the patients may have about supplements they may be taking.”

The BAMC/OPSS team believes it is important that healthcare providers, educators, and health promotion individuals play an instrumental role in partnering with their patients or clients to ensure their safe well-being.

Along with establishing a trusting rapport, they believe healthcare providers must have the knowledge, resources, and strategies to best equip their patients, families, friends, and themselves with the most relevant and evidenced-based information concerning dietary supplement use.

“There are definitely risks for potentially dangerous drug-drug interactions when one does not discuss all substances they are ingesting, to include those seemly ‘safe’ supplements,” Reeder added.

OPSS can be your quarterback in providing dietary supplement safety education, a mobile application for looking up specific dietary supplement ingredients, and ensuring the product is not prohibited. Providers, patients, and families should ‘ask the experts’ from the OPSS team to answer dietary supplement safety-related questions.

Service Member Intrigue with Dietary Supplement Use

Many Service Members consume dietary supplements to improve performance, lose weight, gain muscle mass, or improve overall health. Unfortunately, the use of some dietary supplements can result in adverse events that compromise readiness, performance, and health, rather than improve it. Reports of service members experiencing adverse events (ranging from mild to life-threatening) are well documented.

“The negative impact of unsafe or misused dietary supplements on the readiness of a unit is significant,” said Col. Matthew Marsh, BAMC deputy commander for inpatient services. “Choices that individual service members make, whether inappropriate use of medications or dietary supplements, risks the individual’s health. This diminishes the collective effectiveness of the team – a team that requires optimized individual performance in order to provide the world-class care expected by the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Guardians we serve.”

On 9 March 2022, Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) 6130.06: Use of Dietary Supplements in the DoD was signed and issued. DoDI 6130.06 established Operation Supplement Safety (OPSS) within the Consortium for Health and Military Performance (CHAMP) at the Uniformed Services University (USU) as the DOD’s ‘go-to’ program for anything related to dietary supplements.

OPSS’s mission is to provide the best evidence-based information about dietary supplements and to educate service members, their families, leaders, healthcare providers, and DOD civilians, about dietary supplements so they can make informed choices.

Operation Supplement Safety (OPSS) Innovative Resources

OPSS largely carries out its mission through the website and across digital platforms. The website houses useful and informative tools and resources including:

• DoD Prohibited Dietary Supplement Ingredients List: This is a searchable database that includes over 4,500 terms (almost 800 primary substances with over 3,700 synonyms). Controlled substances, drugs (prescription, over the counter, and unapproved), and substances on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list (sections S0 through S5) are included on the DoD Prohibited Ingredients List and are prohibited for use by Soldiers and the DoD community.

• OPSS Scorecard: This resource features seven questions to help consumers screen supplements for safety. A dietary supplement is classified as either ‘risky’ (a score less than 4) or ‘less risky’ (a score of 4 or more).

• Exploring Supplements: This page provides links to evidence-based articles about common types of dietary supplement products and individual ingredients.

• Handouts, guides, posters, and videos: These cover popular topics such as pre-workout supplements, Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARMs), creatine, weight-loss products, brain and immune-health supplements, and more.

The OPSS Team answers all questions about dietary supplements and ingredients through the confidential ‘Ask the Expert’ portal. For example, the team can provide an answer when more help is needed to evaluate a product for safety and reduce the risk of a positive drug test.

OPSS also provides consumers with important updates through social media. Follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube by searching for, Operation Supplement Safety or @opssorg. Finally, OPSS publishes a monthly newsletter with its latest and most popular content. To sign up for the newsletter, or to view previous editions, visit the newsletter tab on

“There are health risks a novice or patient without proper education may not realize exist when it comes to supplement use,” explained Col. Mark Stackle, BAMC commander. “Make sure you disclose any supplements you are taking to your provider so you can ensure the best choices you can make for your health. Take advantage of the materials provided by BAMC and the OPSS team. Every service member and their families are vital to our mission readiness!”

OPSS is a program of the Consortium for Health and Military Performance at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

Note: The opinions and assertions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Uniformed Services University or the Department of Defense.