The United States Army is investigating whether certain dietary supplements marketed towards athletes may have played a role in the deaths of two U.S. soldiers.
Top dietary supplements like Jack3d and OxyElite Pro were removed from military bases after two soldiers died last year from heart attacks during exercise, according to a spokesman for the Army’s assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. Last summer, a 22-year old soldier collapsed during a training run with his unit. Last fall, a 32-year old soldier at the same base collapsed after a physical fitness test. Toxicology reports show they had active ingredients from these supplements in their system, although they will not identify which ones.
These types of supplements are so popular among athletes because they contain the ingredient dimethylamylamine (DMAA), which is advertised to increase energy and metabolism. As a precaution, the Defense Department has removed all products containing DMAA from stores on military bases pending an Army safety review, said Peter J. Graves, an Army spokesman.
Makers and retailers say that DMAA is a dietary supplement, but many medical experts said it should be classified as a drug, which would require it to earn approval from the Food and Drug Administration before it could be marketed to consumers. Many sports organizations, including the World Anti-Doping Authority, who regulates drug use by Olympic athletes, and several professional sports leagues have listed DMAA as a banned stimulant. In Canada, where the government health agency actually has already classified DMAA as a drug, companies cannot sell products containing the stimulant if they are marketed as diet supplements.
Several preliminary studies show that supplements Jack3d and OxyElite Pro have minimal side effects for short-term use while boosting the body’s metabolism, however we still have some concerns. The four small-scale studies focused on the two supplements were published on the open-access research site Libertas Academica. Both supplements contain “dimethylamylamine” (DMAA), which is a stimulant similar to caffeine and is also used as a nasal decongestant.
Two separate two-week studies analyzed the safety of the supplements by measuring various health indicators, including renal and liver function, blood pressure and heart rate. They showed report that Jack3d and OxyElite Pro have low rates of side-effects for short-term use, although both triggered increased heart rate. In addition to DMMA, both supplements contain caffeine equivalent to two to four cups of coffee, which may account for elevated heart rate. Subjects were asked to take one or two capsules per day. Some participants taking two pills reported feeling jittery, on-edge, shaky and trouble sleeping while taking two capsules, however these symptoms disappeared when the dose was reduced to one capsule per day.
“I think its reasonable to think that the caffeine is what is doing this not the DMAA,” says DietInReview’s pharmaceutical expert Dr. Sarah Khan. “Studies would need to be conducted head to head to compare the results for just DMAA alone versus caffeine. The first study did find an increase in systolic blood pressure so anyone with pre-hypertension or hypertension would definitely want to avoid this supplement.”
Read your labels! This simple task could have saved a track athlete from being banned and from a courtroom loss.
Maryland-based track athlete Phillipe H. DeRosier, Jr.’s case against USPlabs, a popular supplement maker, was thrown out today. The federal judge in Maryland dismissed the $1.8 Million lawsuit filed by DeRosier who was blaming the company for his testing positive for a substance banned in competition.
DeRosier was banned by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) for his use of a substance called DMAA, found in the USPlabs product Jack3d. DMAA is a mild stimulant and the USADA bans stimulants for use in competition. (more…)