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    The 'Proprietary Blend' Nutritional Supplement
    Copyright © 2006, Will Brink

    - The Shell Game that is the "Proprietary Blend" Nutritional 
    Recently I wrote an article entitled "Terms, Terms, Terms, An 
    Inside look to buying supplements" which can be found on the 
    Gurus and Guests section of my private forum. The article covered 
    many of the misleading marketing terms buyers have to deal with 
    in an attempt to make informed decisions on the supplements they 
    spend their hard earned money on. Some of the more potentially 
    misleading commonly used marketing terms I covered were: 
    "Clinically proven" 
    "Doctor recommended" 
    "All natural" 
    "Scientifically formulated" 
    "Research proven" 
    "Used for thousands of years"
    Readers interested in understanding why the above terms can be so 
    misleading, can read my write-up on each of those terms. 
    In a nut shell, I went onto cover each of these common marketing 
    terms that are used to sell supplements to unwitting consumers 
    and explained each in detail as to what I view as their common 
    misuse within the market place. 
    However, one term I didn't cover, was "proprietary blend" which 
    in many cases is the most potentially misleading term of them 
    all, though not a term always seen in ads per se, but the side of 
    the bottle. 
    Thus, why I felt it was a separate topic to be covered at a later 
    date as it does not fit under the classic definition of a 
    commonly used marketing term found in ads. I also decided to 
    cover this term in a separate article as it requires much more 
    space dedicated to it then the other terms needed for reasons 
    that will be apparent shortly.
    Proprietary blends are not inherently a negative for the 
    consumer, though they are inherently confusing for the buyer in 
    most cases. 
    A supplement that lists a "proprietary blend" on the bottle can 
    be there for one of two reasons: 
    (a) to prevent the competition from knowing exactly what ratios 
    and amounts of each ingredient present in the formula to prevent 
    the competition from copying their formula exactly (commonly 
    referred to as a "knock off") or 
    (b) to hide the fact the formula contains very little of the 
    active ingredients listed on the bottle in an attempt to fool 
    Sadly, the latter use is far more common then the former. They 
    see a long list of seemingly impressive ingredients listed in the 
    "proprietary blend" none of which are there is amounts that will 
    have any effects. This is commonly referred to as "label 
    decoration" by industry insiders. The former use of the term is a 
    legitimate way for a company of a quality formula from having the 
    competition copy or "knock off" their formula and the latter use 
    of the term is to scam people.
    So how does the consumer tell the difference? 
    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 to finding the answers. 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 me, can 
    figure out exactly how much of each ingredient is in the blend or 
    in what ratio of each is contained within the formula, hence why 
    the honest and not-so-honest companies employ "proprietary 
    blends" so often. 
    Thus, we have something of a conundrum here and conflict between 
    a company making a quality formula attempting to protect that 
    formula from other companies vs. the company simply looking to 
    baffle buyers with BS. 
    There are at least some basic tips or food for thought here 
    regarding this problem. A formula that contains say 10 
    ingredients in a "proprietary blend" is by no means defacto 
    superior then one with three ingredients in it. It's the dose 
    that matters. Clearly, it's better to have higher amounts of 
    ingredients that will have some effects vs. a long list of 
    ingredients in doses too low to have any effects. 
    Some times it helps to look at both what's in the blend and how 
    much of the blend actually exists. As an example, if say the 
    blend is 300mg total and contains ten ingredients, that's only 
    30mg per ingredient, assuming (and you know what they say about 
    assuming!) that each is found in equal amounts. Clearly, for most 
    compounds out there, 30mg wont do jack sh*&. 
    On the other hand, if say the blend is 3000mg (3 grams) and 
    contains three or four ingredients, there is at least a better 
    chance that the formula contains enough of each (and remember, we 
    can't tell how much of each is in there as that information is 
    "proprietary") to have some effects you are looking for such as 
    an increase in strength, or a decrease in bodyfat, etc. 
    Unfortunately, the above examples are so vague as to be close to 
    worthless as it's easy enough to formulate a 3000mg blend where 
    all the ingredients are worthless to begin with or a 300mg blend 
    that contains compounds that only require small doses to have an 
    effect and or can be toxic at higher doses. 
    For example, the mineral zinc tends to be no more then 30mg in 
    most formulas and no more is needed or recommended. Much of this 
    comes down to the consumer knowing what the various ingredients 
    are and how they work (to decide if they are even worth using in 
    the first place) then deciding if said blend appears to at least 
    contain a dose that would have the desired effects, which just 
    brings us back to my prior comment: most people have neither the 
    time or inclination to research all that info just to decide if 
    they want to use a product and thus the many "proprietary blends" 
    on the market that are no more then a long list of under-dosed 
    Wish I could be of more help giving specific advice to readers of 
    this here article as to what makes a good blend and what 
    constitutes a poorly made blend, but the above advice is the best 
    I can do under the circumstances. Although a "proprietary blend" 
    is not by default a negative to the consumer, it is by all means 
    the poster child for the well-known Latin term Caveat emptor 
    which translates into English as "let the buyer beware".
    See Will's ebooks online here: 
    Muscle Building Nutrition 
    A complete guide bodybuilding supplements and eating to gain 
    lean muscle
    Diet Supplements Revealed 
    A review of diet supplements and guide to eating for maximum 
    fat loss 

    Writer's Resource Box:
    Will Brink writes for numerous health, fitness, medical, and 
    bodybuilding publications. His articles can be found in Life 
    Extension Magazine, Muscle n Fitness, Inside Karate, Exercise 
    For Men Only, Oxygen, Women's World, The Townsend Letter For 
    Doctors and many more. His website is http://www.brinkzone.com

    More Articles Written by Will Brink

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