What is a Proprietary Blend and Why Should You Avoid It?
From time to time, you may find yourself browsing the aisles of your local health mart, shopping for supplements and vitamins. You may have come across a few brands that advertise their amazing proprietary blends. Have you ever wondered what it is? Chances are, you even bought it because “it must be good if it's special,” right? They have all kinds of great supplements inside of it; you've found a treasure! Well, that's not entirely true, and we'll explain why. Below, we cover exactly what a proprietary blend is and why you should avoid it.
What Is a Proprietary Blend, Really?
A proprietary blend is a combination or mixture of several herbs, minerals or vitamins within a supplement. It's as simple as that – sounds harmless, right? Every manufacturer is required by the FDA to list all of the ingredients in their supplement on the Supplement Facts panel. These ingredients are required by law to include the amount by weight next to the name. That is unless it is a proprietary blend – then manufacturers can include the weight as a total amount.
It boils down to this: in a proprietary blend, manufacturers are not required by law to tell you the individual weights and this means that they are able to get away with far more filler product than they would be able to otherwise. It's important to consider that, when dealing with a proprietary blend, you may not be getting the proper amounts of each supplement and you can easily be throwing your money away to take a filler, often in the form of plant cellulose.
What are the Dangers of a Proprietary Blend?
You may be asking what the dangers of this are and why it's so bad for you? Well, truth be told, it's not very dangerous. Of course, the dangers come in if you have a medical condition that is sensitive to some of the ingredients listed, which, in that case, you shouldn't be taking the supplement anyway. Most of the ingredients that people tend to be sensitive to are stimulants or other compounds such as caffeine, yohimbine or synephrine.
There is some risk when it comes to the manufacturer not telling you the amount used – if they happen to use an amount that is far over the recommended value, there is a chance you can overdose on the supplement (depending on what it is). This, however, doesn't give itself a very high chance as most manufacturers choose to bulk up a lot of their proprietary blends with filler.
Let's explore an example:
You pick up a proprietary blend that is advertising its amazing Acai berry powers. Looking on the ingredient label, you see that it's a proprietary blend of 50mg Acai extract, plant cellulose, and Blueberry extract.
There is no way to tell if this supplement contains 1mg Acai extract, 24mg Blueberry extract, and 25mg plant cellulose or if it contains 48mg Acai berry extract, 1mg Blueberry extract and 1mg plant cellulose.
Manufacturers are not required to put it on their labels, report it to the FDA or tell anyone, given the law doesn't change. There is no record of amounts publicly available anywhere unless you send in your supplement for third-party laboratory testing, which can be pricey.
Aside from not knowing the weight of each ingredient and the possibility of being sensitive to an ingredient, there are no real risk factors to taking a proprietary blend. Unfortunately, there is yet another thing to keep in mind with these supplements, however: effective doses are the dosages in which each ingredient provides an effect to the person taking the supplement.
As an example let's use green tea: the effective dose of Camellia sinensis, or green tea, is 200 – 250mg. If your proprietary blend only uses 50mg of green tea, you won't see many benefits from this part of the supplement.
But, Surely There Are Some Good Things?
In short: no, not really. Of course, you will still be getting some amount of the supplements from their blend, after all, it's illegal for a manufacturer to lie about or hide the actual ingredients of their blend. You are much better off purchasing a different supplement or even multiple supplements if you are looking to get a sufficient, accurate amount of the ingredients listed. If you are purchasing a proprietary blend right now and seeing benefits from it, then there is a chance you've stumbled upon a good manufacturer in a sea of poor filler products.
If your blend has a third-party certification on the package, there is some validity to the supplement. Most third-party certification companies don't ensure the amounts listed of each ingredient in a proprietary blend, but they often look at the quality of the ingredients, or where the ingredients were sourced. It is wise to do your research if you are considering sticking with your proprietary blend. Looking for the company that certified their supplement is a good start, and may give you more information than the manufacturer would about the product you're taking. What has your experience been with taking a proprietary blend?
It is wise to do your research if you are considering sticking with your proprietary blend. Looking for the company that certified their supplement is a good start, and may give you more information than the manufacturer would about the product you're taking. What has your experience been with taking a proprietary blend?