Proprietary Blend: Two most dangerous words in the supplement biz.
Avoid Proprietary Blends
LAST UPDATED: October 2018.
Author: Ben has been investigating and researching supplements for over 10 years and established this site in 2015.
His first foray in to supplements came after graduating from university when he started to lift weights in order to help improve his rugby.
However, it wasn’t until Ben watched Bigger, Stronger, Faster that he understood the concept of a proprietary blend and how many products conceal the ingredients by using one.
Do you know what a proprietary blend hides?
Supplements are a minefield.
There’s so many of them for so many goals.
Do you want to lose weight, increase testosterone, increase protein synthesis, alleviate joint pain, increase brain power, build muscle, have better skin or even just feel ‘better’?
No fear, because there is a supplement out there and another for anything else you may think of and another for that too!
However, there is a shady side to it all…
When you look at the ingredients do you have a clue what half of them are and what benefit or even side effects they may bring?
That’s nothing to be ashamed of, in fact most people will have no idea what they putting in to their body and what it will do except for what the fancy label says.
That’s a hell of a lot of trust placed in marketing…
Now, unknown ingredients is one thing because here, at Testosterone Junkie we go through those for you and the studies so you can understand the effects and whether or not they will be beneficial to you.
Okay, so in effect, that side is sorted for you.
You pick out the supplement you are interested in and we have probably done the research for you so you can make an informed choice.
Although, we have our limitations when we see two words on the label or the ingredients panel…
This increases the risk factor to 11.
What’s the risk?
So those ingredients you have just looked at, read through the research papers and established whether or not they may be risky.
For instance we often come across Yohimbe.
Now Yohimbe may cause harm ranging from headaches up to a stroke.
Therefore it is either a good idea to avoid any supplements that contain this ingredient or at least know how much of this ingredient is included in the product you are considering to spend your hard earned cash on.
However, when the words PROPRIETARY BLEND are on the label this effectively gives the manufacturing company carte Blanche to conceal the amount of each ingredient listed on the ingredient panel which is included in the product.
This could be potentially dangerous.
1mg of Yohimbe maybe fine, we may reap the benefits of this ingredient in small doses. However, 3000mg may cause some significant issues.
So many issues that even some countries such as Australia have banned the sale of it and it features on our list of ingredients to avoid.
If on the ingredient panel it states there is a proprietary blend of 5000mg we have no idea how much of Yohimbe is included.
None at all and that poses significant risk to the user.
Now to put that in to context. Imagine if you were to buy a crisp new shirt for a job interview…
You want to stay cool but also look smart. Linen is out of the question because of its ability to look like irons do not exist. Cotton is a better call but still can look like you have slept on the floor of a bus station and polyester is too sweaty when you are under high levels of stress.
However, a poly-cotton mix could be the answer…
Yet when you enter the interview you realize that there is definitely more ‘poly’ to the shirt than cotton because you are sweating like a pedo in a school yard and it is glistening under the lights.
This is because on the label the exact amount of each ‘ingredient’ wasn’t listed. The make up of the shirt turned out to be 99% polyester and 1% cotton but because there was a trace of cotton in the weave it is on the label, regardless of how misleading it was.
It is the same for a propritarty blend on the ingredients panel.
Yes, it may contain the proven and effective D-Aspartic Acid and even vitamin D3 in that testosterone booster you have had your eye on.
It may also include the wonderfully ineffective Tribulus but if the two words: PROPRIETARY BLEND are present there may only be trace amounts of D-Aspartic Acid and D3 whereas there could be 99% Tribulus.
That is not a ration I am comfortable with.
It is no secret that supplements have been pulled from the shelves in the past due to certain ingredient s posing a risk.
Some have even been known to cause cancers and many ingredients can be toxic is too much is consumed.
That said, when a supplement does not disclose the exact amount of each ingredient the user has no idea if they will be admiring their muscles in the mirror that evening or admiring the ceiling of the Emergency Room.
And this is a very real risk, as up to 20,000 people per year are admitted to hospital due to supplements.
So can a proprietary blend be completely to blame?
Yes and no.
It is part of a larger scale problem and that is the lack of regulation over the manufacture and sale of supplements.
Supplements do not fall under the same regulations of food stuffs.
When you buy that candy bar you have an idea of what is included, how much of each ingredient and that it will meet a certain criteria to ensure that it is generally recognised as being safe.
That level of scrutiny does not apply to supplements.
This is highlighted by the fact the two words PROPRIETARY BLEND can conceal the exact amount of each ingredient and there is no regulation that stipulates that the user has to know.
This can pose an even higher risk when prescription drugs are mixed with supplements.
One problem is that the perception is that all supplements are natural and therefore presumed safe.
Consider this: Arsenic is natural…
What does the FDA say?
The FDA are pretty lax about proprietary blends, not forcing or encouraging manufacturers to include the amount of each individual ingredient within the product.
This is not particularly reassuring.
“DSHEA provides that when the dietary ingredients in a supplement are considered to be a proprietary blend, just the total amount of the blend need be stated. In the absence of individual amounts, FDA requires that the dietary ingredients in a proprietary blend are to be listed in order of predominance by weight. These blends also are to be identified by the term “Proprietary Blend” or other appropriately descriptive term or fanciful name.” 
So what is the solution?
Well supplements can be absolutely safe, they can also be effective to helping you reach your goals but caution needs to be heeded.
Never buy anything that contains a proprietary blend.
The risk of either of consuming something that could be potentially harmful is just too great especially if mixed with prescription drugs, recreational drugs and alcohol.
Ensure that you read each ingredient and you have an understanding of how they can effect you by reading the relevant studies before taking the plunge.
Just because the marketing surrounding a certain product is great it doesn’t mean the actual product is.