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One of the most common questions that we at Healthy Gut Bugs get asked is, “Now that I am convinced that I should be taking probiotics, which probiotic should I choose?” While we’re fans of eating prebiotic and probiotic containing foods, probiotics supplements are another option to promote gut health.
The word, “probiotic” is actually a very general term that describes living microorganisms that are claimed to have positive health effects for humans when taken in sufficient amount.
Before selecting a probiotic supplement, is essential to identify what health concerns you are seeking to improve by taking a probiotic, and which bacteria or yeasts are likely to make a difference for your specific goal or situation.
There is plenty of research showing that certain microbes (primarily bacteria and yeasts) can be useful to treat or cure particular conditions.
Before choosing a probiotic, think about what concerns you are hoping to address by taking it. The label on a bottle of commercially produced probiotics should list the genus, species and strains of the probiotic organisms that the manufacturer claims are included in the supplement.
As there may be more than one microbial strain that can be helpful, it is better to choose a probiotic formulation that has multiple strains of probiotics rather than a single strain formulation. There are 100 trillion microbes living in the average human body – ten times as many as there are human cells! Taking a dose containing at least 5 billion CFUs (colony forming units) is typically recommended. As mentioned before, it’s preferable to choose a supplement containing multiple strains of probiotic organisms, as each provides a unique sort of potential health benefit. Unlike some medications that can still be used (even if they are less effective) for a limited period after their expiration date, probiotics will no longer provide much benefit after they have expired or reached the end of their viable shelf-life.
If a probiotic does not include a statement about viability through the end of shelf-life (or include an expiry date), but instead indicates only that the probiotics were viable when manufactured, this means that the producer is not making any claims that the bacteria will still be alive when you buy them.
Probiotics are regulated as a dietary supplement and not as a medicine by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Consumer protection agencies have tested multiple brands of probiotic products on the market and determined that many of them do not in fact contain all of the probiotic strains listed on the packaging by their manufacturer.
Because of the reduced government supervision for probiotics and the known concern over false labelling on some products, as a consumer it is important to choose a reputable manufacturer. Many probiotic manufacturers submit their products to independent third parties that verify the types and quantities of friendly microbes in the supplements. There is an independent third party organization, Consumer Lab, which purchases dietary supplements, such as probiotics, and sends them to an independent lab for testing. To be effective, the probiotic microbes in a supplement must survive the hostile environment of the small intestine and make it alive to the large intestine, where they do their good work. If you choose to take a supplement without the enteric coating, be sure take it just before or with a meal.
Other probiotics are labelled as being “shelf-stable.” This means that the probiotic is supposed to remain viable at room temperature. Personally, living in tropical Singapore I always refrigerate my own probiotics, regardless of whether or not they are shelf-stable.
Before purchasing a probiotic, be sure to research your symptoms or what you are trying to accomplish by taking the probiotic.
Once you have located a supplement that contains strains that you believe will be helpful, do your research on the manufacturer. Double check that the product is fresh and that it has been stored in accordance with manufacturer recommendations. If you have found a supplement that you have found to be helpful, please consider sharing your knowledge with us below in the comment section.
Hi my 7 yr old is always getting sick and get a a fever about once a month sometimes with no other symptoms.
Are there any commercially manufactured probiotics containing any of these four good bacteria currently: Lachnospira, Faecalibacterium, Veillonella, or Rothia? I am not aware of any commercially available probiotic supplement containing these bacteria either together or singly. However, probiotic bacteria can sometimes be helpful for allergies and asthma generally as they reduce inflammation in the body and support immune function. Even better is if your husband is willing to add non-pasteurized fermented food into his diet.


The number one best way to get probiotics into your child is to give them probiotic-containing foods. As far as supplements go, it may be difficult for the bacteria in capsules to make it to the small bowel intact. This one is a little more expensive; however, it contains 16 strains versus only 6 in the one above. I personally would choose a powder over a chewable; however, if this is what you want, go for it!
So, in the end, I would recommend the iFlora product, but you may decide on something else because of price and individual tolerance. In fact, virtually anyone can take some baker’s yeast, put the yeast into capsules, make claims about improving digestion, slap on a fancy label and market these capsules as “Probiotics.” But, health benefits from these supplements would be highly dubious.
It’s also important to understand not only what the manufacturer is stating is in the pill by reading the label, but also to learn about the manufacturer’s reputation and how it has been stored, as probiotic supplements contain living creatures.. Do some research on the condition you are attempting to treat, and try to find out which friendly microbes have been shown to be helpful.
Therefore, for a probiotic supplement to provide any sort of meaningful benefit and not be immediately overwhelmed by the microbes already living in the gut, it needs to contain a very high quantity the desired live organisms.
Over time, when they are in a capsule with limited food and exposure to variable temperatures, their numbers degrade as many of the microbes die. A significant number of the beneficial microbes will have died and the remaining numbers are likely too small to influence health. If the manufacturer is not willing to stand behind its product, you should consider buying a different one.
Therefore, unlike medications that require their manufacturer to demonstrate that they are safe and effective, sellers of probiotics need merely to notify the FDA of their intent to sell them. Additionally, less than half of those tested contain the probiotics in the numbers claimed by the manufacturer. The stated purpose of the enteric coating is to protect the probiotics as they move through the small intestine and only later to open up and release the friendly microbes when they have reached the large intestine. In this way, the beneficial microbes will be “protected” by the food that is also moving through the digestive tract. If you are purchasing a product requiring refrigeration, make sure that it has been refrigerated while at the store or supplier where you are getting it from, otherwise product effectiveness may have already been reduced. I believe that the product will remain effective for longer if kept at a lower temperature because of the slowing-down effect of the on the microbes’ metabolisms.
A more reputable manufacturer whose product has been independently tested is a safer bet to ensure you’re getting living microbes in the quantities and species that you are paying for.
Follow manufacturer instructions for storing and taking the supplement, but consider refrigerating them in any case.
I’m at my wits end and a friend suggested it could be his gut causing a low immune system. My husband has chronic asthma and I recently read that medical science has discovered that these four gut bacteria appear in low numbers in those with asthma. Disclosure: I use affiliate links in this post, and if you click through this site and buy any of these products, I will receive a commission, and you will be supporting this website and all the hard work and research I do. Can they take an adult probiotic supplement, or do they need one specifically formulated for children?
They ask me if there are any powdered supplements they can mix up for their kids or anything chewable. Kefir and Yogurt, for example, according to the National Yogurt Association, contain more than 100 million living bacterial cultures per gram. You can just mix this small amount of powder into your infant or child’s food, and get a decent amount of probiotics, albeit a tenth of the amount they would get from a 4 ounce cup of yogurt. The CFUs (colony forming units of microbes) listed on the packaging states the number of colony forming units claimed to be present at the time the product is produced, but the CFUs start to decline soon thereafter.
Try to choose a manufacture that is willing to do this for increased confidence that you are getting what you have selected and paid for. If you are concerned about purchasing a high-quality probiotic supplement, you might consider purchasing the full report that they have prepared on forty-one probiotic products they tested.


However, many friendly, well-tested strains can survive the small intestine without an enteric coating. If it is being shipped, consider the length of time required for shipment as well as the likely temperatures during transit. Also, for kids that are old enough, I get asked if they can take an adult probiotic supplement without adverse side effects, or if the dose should be lower. If you consider a 4 ounce container, which is over 100 grams, that is 10 billion cultures in a very delicious format.
There is no proof that a kid formulated supplement is any different from an adult formulated supplement, that I can find. This is great for infants who are still drinking formula or breastmilk – yes you can mix it into that! I have not read any evidence that children’s probiotics need to be any different from adult probiotics, and it has fewer strains, which is why I recommend using the adult version for kids, unless your child is having difficulty tolerating supplements. This makes sense if you think about it because there are between 500 to 1000 strains of friendly bacteria potentially living in the human gut alone and it’s hard to imagine that each one of these strains provides exactly same benefits to its human host. At Healthy Gut Bugs, when we write about particular health conditions, we try to highlight which probiotics have shown positive effects. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the probiotic supplement that you purchase is fresh and that there is still significant time until the product expires. Probiotics surviving the small intestine can also be seen in probiotic-containing fermented foods such as miso, kimchee, sauerkraut and kefir. Higher temperatures increases the microbes’ metabolism, which causes them to use up available food and energy more quickly and die faster while in encapsulated form. A product ordered during the heat of summer in Arizona may sit on a hot truck and in your mailbox for days. I have heard of doctors recommending taking pro-biotics post anti-biotic treatment, this does little to nothing in terms of restoring permanently deleted species from the gut.
In addition to that, most cultured products contain 5 or more strains of bacteria, and kefir usually contains up to 12. You could also mix it into juice (although I do not recommend much juice), mashed sweet potatoes (not too hot, or else you’ll kill those good bugs!), applesauce, or any number of other foods.
If the above product is the cadillac of probiotics, this iFlora product is the Rolls Royce. Different beneficial microbes assist in maintaining different processes in a well-functioning, healthy human body.
Additionally, some researchers claim that the enteric coating can actually reduce the shelf life of the probiotic by exposing the microbes to heat during processing and locking in moisture into the capsule.
Current scientific consensus is that the enteric coating for probiotics is unnecessary at best and harmful at worst, if it’s made from a synthetic ingredient. The number of cultures is important because you want to put as many bugs in as possible to give them the best chance at survival.
Sugar alcohols have been linked with intestinal symptoms due to … bacterial overgrowth!!!
This is appropriate for children ages 0-5, although it could be used for adults or seniors, even. Also, don’t be afraid to stick it in the fridge to keep the cultures as fresh as possible. The number of strains is important because there are millions of different types of bacteria and they all have different functions within our gut. Also, this contains milk, so if you are feeding probiotics because your kid can’t have yogurt due to dairy intolerance, avoid this one.



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