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Table 3 Comparison of supplement use and adverse events before and during deployment

From: Self-reported dietary supplement use in deployed United States service members pre-deployment vs. during deployment, Afghanistan, 2013–2014

Supplement characteristics Before deployment During deployment P
Supplement use frequency
 Few times a month 97 (9%) 65 (6%) 0.0015
 2-3 times a week 195 (18%) 132 (12%) <0.0001
 4-6 times a week 198 (18%) 258 (24%) <0.0001
 Daily 324 (30%) 435 (40%) <0.0001
 More than once a day 58 (5%) 99 (9%) <0.0001
 Any use (any of the above) 895 (82%) 1004 (92%) <0.0001
 No use 201 (18%) 88 (8%) <0.0001
 No answer 17 (2%) 13 (1%)
Supplement type
 Vitamins/minerals 628 (58%) 641 (59%) 0.3840
 Herbal/homeopathic 243 (22%) 243 (22%) 0.9999
 Protein/amino acids 560 (51%) 711 (65%) <0.0001
 Energy drinks 264 (24%) 273 (25%) 0.3608
 Weight loss 169 (16%) 184 (17%) 0.1394
 Performance enhancers 331 (30%) 416 (38%) <0.0001
 Other 14 (1%) 19 (2%) 0.1317
Use multiple supplements 599 (55%) 684 (63%) <0.0001
Always followed label instructions 447 (41%) 515 (47%) <0.0001
Requested educationa 770 (71%) 277 (25%) 0.0027
Received educationa 585 (54%) 460 (42%) <0.0001
Reasons for using supplements
 Boost energy 383 (35%) 460 (42%) <0.0001
 Enhance performance 346 (32%) 427 (39%) <0.0001
 Improve health 493 (45%) 519 (48%) 0.0474
 Improve mental health 110 (10%) 123 (11%) 0.0526
 Decrease fat 179 (16%) 227 (21%) <0.0001
 Lose weight 174 (16%) 227 (21%) <0.0001
 Gain muscle strength 444 (41%) 588 (54%) <0.0001
 Gain muscle mass 310 (28%) 452 (41%) <0.0001
 Meal replacement 101 (9%) 140 (13%) <0.0001
 Other 20 (2%) 21 (2%) 0.7630
Adverse events
 Headache 33 (3%) 39 (4%) 0.2888
 Dizziness, light-headedness 31 (3%) 38 (3%) 0.2230
 Tachycardia 92 (8%) 94 (9%) 0.8137
 Nervousness 21 (2%) 22 (2%) 0.8185
 General weakness 5 (<1%) 6 (<1%) 0.7389
 Abdominal pain 10 (1%) 11 (1%) 0.7815
 Nausea or vomiting 12 (1%) 19 (2%) 0.1083
 Chest pain 5 (<1%) 7 (<1%) 0.7055
 Confusion 3 (<1%) 4 (<1%) 0.3173
 Problems falling or staying asleep 61 (6%) 79 (7%) 0.0181
 Skin changes 8 (<1%) 10 (1%) 0.4142
 Other 12 (1%) 17 (2%) 0.1655
  1. Participants who reported no supplement use before AND during deployment (n = 595, 35% of total sample) are excluded from the above analyses. Percentages given are out of n = 1090. Participants may report more than one supplement type, reason for use, and adverse event. All p-values are for McNemar’s chi-square test for paired proportions
  2. aEducation or information on supplement use was in the form of the Internet, health care providers, magazines and peers