If you browse through the supplement section on Amazon, you’ll see that there are literally thousands of products on sale at any one time. You can see the same phenomenon if you type “supplement reviews” into search engine – millions of results, covering every possible angle of health and performance.
One thing you might notice is that all of the supplements on sale right now – whether it’s nootropics, probiotics, protein powders, or multivitamins – make the exact same claims and the same promises.
Every product claims to be a “unique blend” of “clinically proven” ingredients.
All of them say that they’re the single best supplement in their category on the market today.
Each manufacturer says that only they use real science when formulating their products.
But we know that not everybody is telling the truth here. It should be obvious to you that the vast majority of health supplements on sale right now are complete garbage. If they aren’t outright scams, then a lot of them are enormously over-priced.
The problem is that manufacturers can make any claims they want about their product so long as they aren’t medical. That is, they can call their product “proven by science” even if that “science” is a single, low quality, biased study.
So the job of telling a scam supplement from a good one is left to you; the consumer.
How Do You Do That?
Simple. Below is a list of things to look out for when choosing any supplement. Use this list and you wont go far wrong when it comes to buying literally any supplement, whether it’s a brain booster, a protein powder, a multivitamin, or anything else!
Signs of a Scam Supplement
There are some tell-tale signs of a scam supplement that you should be on the lookout for when choosing your own. These are very general things, so they apply to pretty much every kind of supplement, be it a multivitamin or a nootropic.
Let’s get straight into it.
A proprietary blend is when a manufacturer doesn’t list the serving sizes for each individual ingredient. Instead, they list the ingredients, and then give you a total serving size for the whole formula. In practice, this means you have no way of knowing how much of any one ingredient you have in your supplement.
Manufacturers claim that they use proprietary blends to protect their formulas from theft. But that just isn’t true. In reality, nobody steals another brand’s formula because there’s nothing to steal. Think about it; you can look up what individual ingredients do, how much you need to take, and so on. There’s no “secret blend of herbs and spices” to steal, as it all comes down to what has been proven to work in clinical studies and what hasn’t.
The real reason manufacturers use proprietary blends is to hide the fact that they’re stuffing their formula with the cheapest ingredients and skimping on the good stuff. They do this so they can minimize costs while still putting lots of wonderful (and expensive) ingredients on the label.
Avoid proprietary blends completely. There’s no good reason to use them. They’re always a rip!
Unmarked “Extract” Potency
Another trick used by manufacturers of scam supplements is to do with extracts. Lots of natural supplements use herbal extracts. There’s nothing wrong with this of course. Quite the contrary; lots of herbal extracts have the capacity to significantly improve your performance in a number of different areas.
However, some manufacturers use the word “extract” to extract your hard-earned money from you!
When you see the word “extract” on the label on a high quality supplement, you can be sure that it is going to be followed by some info on what exactly has been “extracted” from the herb, and how much of it you get per milligram of the ingredient.
For example, lots of supplements contain “green tea extract”, and the thing that is normally extracted is EGCG. A good supplement will provide green tea extract that is very high in EGCG – as high as 50% by weight.
However, that isn’t the only thing you can extract from green tea. You could have a green tea extract that has concentrated all the cellulose, which is useless for enhancing performance. Scam manufacturers will buy the cheapest, least effective green tea “extracts” and use them instead of high-EGCG extracts.
If a manufacturer spent good money sourcing high EGCG green tea extract, then you can rest assured that they would tell you about it! The same goes for all high quality extracts – they WILL display the extract potency if it is good quality. If they don’t, it’s garbage.
Clinical Evidence Not Provided
The final sign of a scam supplement is a lack of clinical evidence provided by the manufacturer.
As I laid out at the start of this article, almost every single supplement manufacturer on the planet claims that their products are backed by “real science”. Yet when you check their websites, you typically find nothing in the way of evidence, “real” scientific evidence or otherwise.
It is very easy for somebody to write the words “clinically proven” in an Amazon product listing title, or on a merchant website. There is nobody policing this behaviour; nobody to ask manufacturers to back up these claims with proof. So people can basically claim that their product is clinically proven without ever having to even post links to publicly available clinical data.
A sure sign of a scam supplement is a website that claims a product has been proven by clinical trials, but which doesn’t make those clinical trials readily accessible to you.