A scientist who studies whether supplements work takes 4 a day to help his health go from good to great

Supplement stock photo (left) Richard Bloomer (right)
Richard Bloomer is the director of a lab that tests how effective and safe supplements are.Getty Images/ Richard Bloomer
  • Richard Bloomer researches the health claims of supplement manufacturers for a living.

  • He says there are some great ingredients out there that can be used alongside a healthy lifestyle.

  • Bloomer takes vitamin D for metabolic health and fish oil for his heart.

Richard Bloomer has been researching supplements and how safe and effective they are for more than two decades.

He founded the University of Memphis' Center for Nutraceutical and Dietary Supplement Research, a lab that tests whether products deliver the benefits they claim to, partly because of his own personal interest in their health benefits and partly as a means of giving consumers accurate information.

The supplement industry has been growing steadily in recent years, with surveys indicating that more than half of US adults take such products, according to the American Medical Association. By 2028, the market is projected to generate about $308 billion worldwide, according to Statista.

Supplements aren't regulated by the Food and Drug Administration before entering the market in the same way that medications are, making the market a tricky place to navigate.

"There are many supplements that probably are not worth our time and money, but I think there are a lot of things that do have value. It's just a matter of finding out which ones have value and why," Bloomer told Business Insider.

He's been using supplements for many years alongside eating a healthy diet, exercising about five times a week, and focusing on getting good quality sleep — and he stressed the importance of all three.

"Those things I think are so valuable, and supplements are never going to, in my mind, replace those," he said.

In his research, however, he has seen evidence to suggest that some ingredients can improve different aspects of health, such as physical performance and cardiometabolic health.

Bloomer shared the four supplements he takes to help his health go from good to great.

Fish oil

Bloomer takes a good-quality fish oil every day for heart health and to prevent inflammation, he says.

He uses a liquid form that contains a combination of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA and blends it into a smoothie or meal-replacement drink.

"It has a nice flavor too, it's not fishy at all, but orange or lemon, and does a fine job," he said.

According to Mount Sinai, Omega-3 fatty acids are known to be good for heart health in several ways, including reducing triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood; slowing the buildup of plaque, a substance that hardens and blocks the arteries; and lowering blood pressure.

Fish oil has anti-inflammatory effects, which some evidence suggests can be protective against muscle soreness and damage from hitting the gym. One small study found that men who took 3 grams of fish-oil capsules a day for four weeks experienced less muscle soreness after working out than those who didn't.

Vitamin D3

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus and is needed for healthy teeth, bones, and muscles. Although you can get it from some foods, such as egg yolks and red meat, sunlight is the best source.

Bloomer says he takes 1,000 International Units of vitamin D3 daily because most people in the US are deficient.

"I do get outside a good amount. So for me, and I've had my blood levels checked, a thousand is about right," he said. But he recommends people speak to a healthcare provider to find the right dose for them.

He also takes vitamin D3 for its useful metabolic effects, he says. Research suggests there could be a link between low vitamin D levels and a higher risk of developing metabolic illnesses including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, including hypertension.

A multivitamin

Bloomer also takes a good-quality multivitamin daily while acknowledging the body of evidence that suggests they're useless.

"If people say, well, it's just going to be excreted in the urine, they're probably right. A lot of those things that you don't need will be excreted in the urine, but it's just a cheap insurance policy."

"It's a few cents a day and people that are very active and exposed to high amounts of stress, there is some literature suggesting they could benefit," he added.

Business Insider previously reported that emerging evidence suggested multivitamin supplements might improve memory in people over 60.

Protein powder

To ensure he's getting enough protein throughout the day, Bloomer has two or three protein shakes a day. Protein is essential for many bodily functions, including muscle growth and retention.

"I think people that are on the go and real busy, that's a really nice way to make certain that you're getting good-quality nutrition without actually sitting down and consuming a meal," he said. "It's relatively inexpensive, and you can get some really good-quality proteins these days."

Bloomer uses a whey isolate because it seems to reach the muscles faster, he says. But he has used soy-based, pea-based, egg-based, and other protein powders in the past. "I think most of the powders, the quality is pretty decent," he said.

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