Supplements 101

by Marine Corps News

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, JAPAN -You've all seen them. Big as a house, stronger than an ox. Every day the gym fills with those fighting a different type of war than Marines are usually trained for. A war with the iron.

Many Marines, sailors and even civilian employees take time out of almost every day to either get bigger or smaller. A great many of these people often seek a little help, a shortcut to achieve their fitness goals.

"I think they're looking for an easy fix. It's a lot easier to take a pill than to spend 60 minutes on a cardio machine, but you're really cheating yourself," said Alma Dickinson, health promotions director here.

This so-called help comes in a variety of supplements designed do things such as "increase your active muscle satellite cells by 109 percent in just 28 days" - whatever that means - or help you lose fat with little to no effort.

If you can get past the impossibly worded scientific lingo on the labels of these supplements, then you may notice the small printed box required by all supplement manufacturers with the text reading, "These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration."

The 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act states a firm does not have to provide FDA with the evidence it relies on to substantiate safety or effectiveness before or after it markets its products.

In fact, according to the act, a manufacturer doesn't even have to register themselves or their product before producing or selling it.

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"In a lot of supplements, the long term effects are unknown and the possible sideeffects are unknown. In addition to that, a lot of supplements can react with over-the-counter or prescribed medications," said Dickinson.

Rather than ingesting a federally unrecognized and unproven supplement, there are easy alternatives to get the right fuel for your workout.

"You can get everything you need out of your diet. I know a lot of people take protein powder or protein shakes to get that extra protein, but they can get it all out of eating the right foods," said Dickinson.

Most gym nuts may find meals containing tuna, chicken, and beef hold more than enough protein, even for a professional athlete who trains several hours a day.

Those wishing to lose weight should probably stick to the time-tested method of a good exercise routine.

Despite the fact that there is no federally legitimate overwatch on supplements, people are certainly going to continue to use them.

"If you're really set on taking supplements, do your research. I like to check dot-org, dot-gov, or dot-edu Web sites." said Dickinson. "Ask yourself, 'Do I really need this?'"

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