Dietary supplements

Dietary supplements are commonly used by Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel to enhance performance. These products promise muscle gain, weight loss, increased endurance, increased muscle power, reduced fatigue, improved appearance, accelerated workout recovery and slowed aging. Unfortunately there is little evidence most of these products actually work, and many ignore the fact that they could potentially be harmful.

Dietary supplements are a part of a multi-billion dollar industry, with new products appearing on the market every day. This type of growth makes it impossible for government regulators to closely monitor every product that ends up on the shelf. The Internet also makes it easy for Canadians to purchase these products internationally. The safety of these products cannot be guaranteed since dietary supplements are largely unregulated, especially outside of Canada. Recent studies have shown that they do not always contain the ingredients listed on their content labels. Some products were even found to contain lead, anabolic steroids, animal feces and other potentially harmful contaminants. Remember, what you see is not always what you get when purchasing these products.

Natural doesn’t always mean safe

Even though many dietary supplements are labeled as "natural", they can cause unwanted side effects. Your body can react negatively to supplements and they can be dangerous if you have existing medical conditions. Your chances of experiencing a negative reaction increases when you combine dietary supplements with other supplements, medications, nicotine, caffeine and alcohol. You are strongly encouraged to consult with your health care professional before using any dietary supplement, especially if you are on medications or have a medical condition. It’s your body and you need to careful what you put into it.

To provide you with a balanced view on how dietary supplements can improve performance and health, Strengthening the Forces part of CF Health Services, has created “Performance Enhancers: Facts and Bottom Line”, which describes the 13 most popular dietary supplements consumed by CAF personnel, their proven effectiveness and side effects. The CAF Health Promotion program, Strengthening the Forces, does not endorse the use of dietary supplements, but recognizes that many CAF personnel look to these products for health and performance benefits. The safest way to enjoy good health and physical fitness is to consistently train smart and eat smart.

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