Dietary Supplements and Energy Drinks

LAST UPDATED: March 27, 2023
Skip Navigation LinksPerformance Triad / Performance Learning Center / Learn About Nutrition / Dietary Supplements and Energy Drinks
Dietary Supplements

​Many Service members use dietary supplements to enhance their performance or for weight loss. Dietary supplements are products taken that contain a “dietary ingredient” such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids and herbs or botanicals. They come in many forms, including tablets, capsules, powders, energy bars, and liquids.

Supplements are NOT a substitute for healthy food

Dietary supplements cannot offset the unfavorable effects of poor food choices. Consume whole foods as the best source for an edge on performance.

If you do decide to take a supplement, be smart! Educate yourself and seek advice from a healthcare professional first.

Choose whole fruits and vegetables instead of supplements

Eating a colorful assortment of fruits and vegetables ensures that you receive a full range of essential vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. These substances all work together to provide you with positive health benefits, which is why eating a whole fruit and/or vegetable is much more advantageous than taking a supplement.

Phytochemicals give fruits and vegetables their vibrant hues (e.g., yellow, orange, red, green, purple), and these compounds cannot be duplicated in a supplement. There are literally thousands of these compounds found in produce, and researchers are discovering more information about their health benefits every single day.

Supplement safety

Dietary supplements are not tested or approved by the FDA prior to market. The most tainted dietary supplements are those intended for bodybuilding, weight loss, diabetes, and sexual enhancement.

Helpful dietary supplement resources:

Operation Supplement Safety (OPSS) External Link​ is an initiative of the Human Performance Resource Center (HPRC) and the DoD to inform military personnel, their families, and retirees about dietary supplements and how to choose them wisely. Here you will find information sheets, videos, answers to frequently asked questions about supplements, print materials and more.

Energy drinks

Many Soldiers reach for energy drinks for a mid-day pick-me-up or to make it through a long night shift. But do energy drinks help Service members do their job, or do they hinder their ability to perform?

What are energy drinks?

Energy drinks are not the same as sports drinks and should never be used for hydration—cool, plain water should always be a first choice for hydration. Energy drinks generally contain large quantities of caffeine and may contain other ingredients, most of which do absolutely nothing to enhance health. Also, the large quantities of caffeine and other stimulants many energy drinks contain can increase dehydration, and may also lead to increased anxiety, upset stomach, shakiness, headaches, and sleep issues. These potential side effects can reduce Soldiers’ ability to perform, NOT enhance it.

To find out more information about energy drinks and the risk go to the Operation Supplement Safety “Energy Drinks and Energy Shots: What’s the Problem?” for more informationExternal Link

Join the discussion
Facebook X YouTube Cookpad Contact Us
Working together for a healthy community
U.S. Army Army Medicine Human Performance Resource Center ArmyFit Army Community Resource Guides