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What Is A Proprietary Blend?
Q. What’s a “proprietary blend,” and why do some supplement products have that listed on their labelling?
A. A “proprietary blend” listed on a supplement bottle can be there for one of two reasons:
(a) To prevent the competition from knowing exactly what ratios and amounts of each ingredient are present in the formula to keep them from making an exact copy of the formula (commonly referred to as a knock-off).
(b) To hide the fact that the formula contains very little of the active ingredients listed on the bottle in an attempt to fool consumers.
Sadly, the latter use is far more common than the former. Consumers see a long list of seemingly impressive ingredients listed in the proprietary blend, though they’re seldom there in amounts that will have any effects. This is commonly referred to as “label decoration” by industry insiders.
So how does the consumer tell the difference between a proprietary blend meant to protect a high-quality formula from being counterfeited and one meant purely to scam people? They can’t, or at least they can’t without some research and knowledge, which the scam artists know few people have the time and energy to dedicate towards.
Although there are a few tips the consumer can use to decide if a product with a proprietary blend is worth trying, no one—not even I—can figure out exactly how much of each ingredient is in the blend or the ratio in which each is contained within the formula. It’s nearly impossible to figure out why the various ingredients are there and how they work (to decide if they’re even worth using in the first place), let alone to decide if the blend at least contains a dose that would have the desired effects. This just brings us back to my prior comment: Most people have neither the time nor the inclination to research all that info just to decide if they want to use a product. Thus, many proprietary blends on the market are no more than a long list of under-dosed ingredients. Although a proprietary blend is not by default a negative to the consumer, let the buyer beware.