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Hurlburt Field airman has toxic side-effects from weight loss supplements

HURLBURT FIELD  --  HURLBURT FIELD - Being strong is part of his job. But a Hurlburt Field airman says his quest for fitness nearly cost him his life. He says the supplements he was taking had toxic side effects.

Laura Hussey "We're at the gym on Hurlburt Field, it's a place where to this day, Staff Sergeant John Bainter spends a lot of time. In the Air Force, you have to be fit to fight." 

Staff Sergeant John Bainter started taking supplements to improve his workout performance.

SSgt John Bainter "You want to get bigger, you want to get faster, you want to get stronger. And you read a lot of things about this is the next biggest thing, you hear things from friends, people recommend things, and it kind of sucks you in a little bit."

Soon he was consuming a laundry list of products....creatine, protein, non-hormonal muscle builders, fat burners, pre-workout supplements and post-workout supplements.

At first there were no problems, he was working out and doing his job. Then, one day he noticed his eyes were yellow and he felt like he had the flu. Within weeks, he lost forty pounds and it hurt to stand up.

SSgt John Bainter "I was basically frail, weak, yellow, and there was not a whole lot that I could do at all, I couldn't perform my duties as an airman."

Doctors told Bainter his cocktail of supplements had injured his liver. At the Hurlburt Health and Wellness Center, registered dietitian Sandra DeMezzo says anyone thinking about supplements should ask their doctor.

Sandra Demezzo "What is appropriate for them to take, what they are allowed to take, what they might not be allowed to take due to their medical histories"

Staff Sergeant Bainter says he only has himself to blame for a six-month nightmare. He doesn't want anyone else to make the same mistake.

SSgt Bainter "Do whatever you have to, to make sure you don't make an error that could potentially cost you your life"

Laura Hussey "Operation Supplement Safety is a program from the Surgeon General of the Air Force. It's just one of the resources airmen can use at the Health and Wellness Center."