Assessing Methods to Improve Diet Quality and Nutrition Biomarkers of Concern in the Military

Q&A for Session #5
Sports Nutrition Symposium 5.0
Wednesday June 22nd, 2022 @ 12 pm CST

Melissa Rittenhouse-Symposium 5.0 Speaker

Diet quality and nutrition status are important for overall military performance. The presentation will review ways we assessed diet quality and nutrition status, provide the outcomes and describe two protocols we used to try to improve areas of concern.

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  • Using the food frequency recall method for Army soldiers, could you provide more info re: questionnaire and validation of the tool used?
    • For this study that was the Block FFQ which is standard and validated.
  • Was the cohort asked if they were aware of any dietary intolerances or allergies that affected their food choices?
    • Yes, it was one of the excluding factors. If they were allergic to fish or anything they were excluded.
  • Now that you know that there are these dietary deficiencies within the military, what is the plan to correct this?
    • We are focusing on omega 3's and trying to figure out ways to do that with the food supply. We haven't gotten into Vitamin D yet, but there's a lot of different things for that as well. We are just testing omega 3 out right now and seeing what people are responding to. The more people respond, the more they eat the omega 3 product we provide, that will be the answer. If they don't eat it we can't raise the omega 3 index.
  • Did you test if supplementation of Omega-3 affected physical performance of the athletes?
    • Not yet. That was part of the plan. We wanted to test performance but our goal was to get them up to 8% and then test to compare it to another cohort that wasn't. Our next step is to look at performance, but we need people to be higher. Not everyone can be down to 3-4%. We need a cohort closer to 8% and one closer to 4% to do some of those.
  • It was said that both sex and gender were predictive indicators for omega 3 status and I was wondering if this means that women are less or more likely to have higher omega 3 indexes, and same with Africans Americans?
    • African Americans were lower. There's some research that shows that females were a little bit higher with absorbing ALA.
  • Are there any contraindications of Omega-3 consumption? Anti-coagulation therapy or blood clotting disorders?
    • There's two parts to this. The answer is generally no. Some misinformation on this. The FDA does recommend not taking more than 2g from supplements. They try to get most of the omega 3's from food. That would the recommendation I would go with. But as far as contraindications, there really hasn't been much found in that.
  • Is there any research or interest in plant based Omega 3's?
    • Some research on that. As far as EPA and DHA, the only plant-based one is algae. Some of the ALA we haven't gotten there yet; it would have to be a super high dose of ALA. The main plant-based source is algae at this point and there are some algae oils out there so that is a possibility.
  • You mentioned body comps weren't done in the 7 week group, can you discuss this more? How long would the minimum need to be to see changes?
    • We didn't do a whole lot with body composition since it is a DEXA machine. The protocol at the Naval Academy is only two allowed per year because there is radiation involved. Overall, you probably could see some changes in body composition by 8 weeks or so but they would be so minimal. For our study the body composition wasn't that much of a factor. The risk outweighed the benefit for us with the radiation and the protocol.