Skip navigation links
print | view as pdf | share

The Scoop - March 2012

The Scoop: A Newsletter for Consumers from the Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health Department of Health and Human Services sealexternal link icon  Office of Dietary Supplements logo

March 2012

In The News

Dietary Supplements Removed From Military Facilities for Health Concerns

Woman working out with weights

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has placed a temporary moratorium on the sale of products containing DMAA (1,3-dimethylamylamine) in military facilities. DoD took this action in response to reports of serious adverse health effects, including the deaths of two soldiers that may be related to the use of dietary supplements containing this ingredient. DMAA, advertised to increase energy, concentration, and metabolism, is sold as a stand-alone supplement and in combination with other ingredients, frequently caffeine. DoD is currently reviewing medical reports and other scientific evidence to determine the safety of DMAA, and the Army will conduct a study to see if there’s a link between use of this amphetamine-like ingredient and bodily harm. For more information, including a list of products containing DMAA, visit the Human Performance Resource Centerexternal link icon.

My Dietary Supplements (MyDS) App is here!

MyDS App Icon

To access ODS dietary supplement fact sheets while you’re on the go, get the new and improved version of our free app, MyDS. MyDS now works on the Apple iPhone, iPad, and iTouch devices; Android phones; and BlackBerry devices running OS6 and above. MyDS gives you anytime access to our science-based, reliable information on dietary supplements. It also provides an easy and highly portable way to keep track of the vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other products you take. With MyDS, you also can email your personal list of dietary supplements to yourself or to your health care providers and print it out for reference.

Reliable Resources for Information
About Dietary Supplements

Photo: Groceries in a bag

Where can I find out how much of each vitamin and mineral I need?

To get a list of all the vitamins and minerals and how much you need, check out the free online toolexternal link icon from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Just input a few pieces of information about yourself including your age, height, and weight. You also can get a list of your daily calorie, protein, and other nutritional needs. Keep in mind that the amounts of vitamins and minerals you need include everything you get from food and beverages—you may or may not need a dietary supplement to achieve these amounts. Good sources of information on eating well include the Dietary Guidelines for Americansexternal link icon and MyPlateexternal link icon. Talk with your health care provider to help you determine which supplements, if any, might be valuable for you. For more detailed information about each vitamin and mineral, read the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) vitamin and mineral fact sheets.

Photo: Woman standing in front of a display of dietary supplements

Where can I find free, accurate information about vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other dietary supplements?

Good places to start are the ODS fact sheets, which provide helpful information about dietary supplements including recommended amounts, health effects, safety, and medication interactions. Many of the ODS fact sheets come in three versions—the easy-to-read QuickFacts in both English and Spanish, and the more detailed Health Professional. Read them online or print a copy. Also, Herbs at a Glanceexternal link icon fact sheets from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) provide basic information on specific herbs and botanicals—common names, uses, potential side effects, and resources for more information.

Photo: Woman pulling research studies from a shelf

Where can I find published scientific studies about dietary supplements?

You can search for medical and scientific studies on specific dietary supplement ingredients using the PubMed Dietary Supplement Subset. PubMed is a database of the National Library of Medicine that provides access to over 11 million journal citations. The PubMed Dietary Supplement Subset helps you by searching specifically for dietary supplement-related studies in both humans and animals, including articles on vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, ergogenic aids, and botanical and herbal supplements.

Photo: Young man researching on the internet

How do I know if the information I find on the Internet is reliable?

The Internet has a vast number of Web sites that provide information about dietary supplements. Much of the information on the Internet is useful; however, the Internet also allows rapid and widespread distribution of false and misleading information. When evaluating a Web site, consider the credibility of the source of the information, the purpose of the site, and whether the information is up to date. ODS has a fact sheet to help you decide if the information on a Web site or in an email is reliable. It is called, How to Evaluate Health Information on the Internet: Questions and Answers.

You also may want to go the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) Dietary Supplementsexternal link icon fact sheet, which includes tips for recognizing fraudulent advertising claims—especially those that claim cures for diseases. Under federal law, dietary supplements cannot be promoted for the prevention or treatment of a disease. To report a health product you believe is falsely advertised, contact the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or online at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/external link icon.

Photo: MedWatch logoexternal link icon

Where can I find out if safety alerts or recalls have been issued for dietary supplements?

Visit the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Dietary Supplement Consumer Updatesexternal link icon Web page to find FDA’s MedWatch Safety Alerts. MedWatch is the FDA’s site for safety information and for reporting serious problems with dietary supplements and medical products. Sign up to get updates by email or subscribe to an RSS feed. You also can review a complete list of Dietary Supplement Alerts and Safety Informationexternal link icon issued over the past 10 years for specific supplements.

The Scoop provides information from the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) on vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other dietary supplement ingredients. The Scoop is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. If you copy or distribute its content, please credit the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements and include the publication title and date. Do not use our information in any way that suggests we endorse any commercial product or service.

We welcome your comments and suggestions for future issues of The Scoop. To contact ODS, go to the Contact Us page of the ODS Web site. Please note that we cannot answer specific medical questions, make referrals, or provide guidance on the use of dietary supplements. Those questions are best answered by a physician or other qualified health care provider who can tell you if dietary supplements are right for you and what effects they could have on your health.

About ODS

The Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the nation’s medical research agency—supporting scientific studies that turn discovery into health.

Contact Us

Office of Dietary Supplements
National Institutes of Health
6100 Executive Blvd., Room 3B01
Bethesda, MD 20892-7517

Email: ods@nih.gov
Web site: http://ods.od.nih.gov