Patterns and perceptions of supplement use by U.S. Marines deployed to Afghanistan

Nicole M. Cassler, Richard Sams, Paul A. Cripe, Andrea F. Mcglynn, Alicia B. Perry, Brett A. Banks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Dietary supplements are implicated in an increasing number of minor and serious adverse events, including death. A series of adverse events in deployed Marines using multiple supplements prompted medical officers to investigate the prevalence of supplement use among Marines stationed on Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan. The investigators developed a survey to identify the types of supplements used, patterns of supplement use, reasons for taking supplements, perceived benefits from using supplements, and self-reported adverse effects. Marines were invited to complete an anonymous 17-question survey while visiting recreational and athletic facilities. A total of 329 active duty Marines completed the survey. The prevalence of supplement use was 72% for males and 42% for females (p = 0.009). Of the 12% of Marines reporting side effects, 79% were taking multiple supplements and 89% were using stimulants. Deployment was significantly associated with new supplement use (p < 0.001). Of users, 81% noted an improvement in physical performance. The majority of deployed Marines use multiple dietary supplements and perceive a high benefit. Given the high prevalence of supplement use and recent deaths associated with supplement use, recommendations are needed to guide the use of certain supplements by U.S. Marines in the deployed environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)659-664
Number of pages6
JournalMilitary medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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