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  • intention of maintaining health and performance in adverse military training and operational environments?

Conclusions

  • Information presented at this meeting, in earlier CMNR reports, and other scientific literature provided evidence that military service leads to exposure to unique oxidative stresses that may have adverse health consequences. Some of these stresses are reasonably well characterized, such as those associated with strenuous exercise, work in extremes of environmental temperatures, and at altitude. Much less is known about other sources of oxidative stress, such as radiofrequency and microwave radiation hazards, exposure to blast overpressure, and psychological stress related to extreme training courses or deployment.
  • Military rations formulated in accordance with the MRDAs provide nutrients in amounts consistent with meeting nutrient needs—including the antioxidant nutrients—when these rations are consumed at levels required to maintain body weight in the usual range of physical activity for military task requirements. There is little evidence that supplementation with vitamins C, E or with β-carotene in normal conditions (i.e. in garrison) would enhance overall health.
  • There is little evidence currently available to indicate that supplementation of vitamins C and E and β-carotene would be beneficial in protecting against short term, acute oxidative stress. In addition, the use of antioxidant compounds to minimize this stress is not without risk.

Recommendations

  • Effective methods of promoting lifestyle changes as outlined in Diet and Health (NRC, 1989a), Healthy People 2000 (DHHS, 1991) and Healthy People 2010 (in draft) should be developed as these have the greatest potential of maintaining health and performance of military personnel and their dependents, particularly in view of the introductory comments of Lt. General Blanck concerning the transition of military medicine to a health promotion emphasis.
  • Aggressive educational efforts should be directed to military personnel engaged in operations of various intensities and in stressful environments on the importance of striving to maintain food intakes consistent with physical demands and energy requirements to avoid excessive weight loss.
  • Emphasis should be placed on meeting the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (USDA/DHHS, 1995) rather than supplementing with individual nutrients.
  • Supplementation should not be considered except in specific high stress situations where intake is likely to be markedly inadequate. If supplementation is determined to be necessary, however, data on the benefits of doses exceeding 100 mg/day of vitamin C and 50 mg/day of vitamin E as alpha tocopherol are


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