How To Choose the Right Probiotic Supplement?
There are many probiotic supplements available on the market. This article will explain things you need to know to choose a quality supplement that is best suited to your needs.
Things To Look For When Choosing Your Probiotics
Probiotic supplements can provide a range of health benefits. They can help you restore your intestinal flora after a course of antibiotics, they can ease diarrhea from an infection, they help improve the functioning of the immune system, alleviate symptoms of gastrointestinal disease, and more.
That is why there is no surprise that there are many probiotic supplements on the market. But how to choose the one that works best for you?
Let’s take a look at the things you need to consider when choosing a probiotic supplement.
The best way to ensure that you are getting a high quality probiotic supplement is to buy from an established manufacturer or a manufacturer that you know well.
Such manufacturers adhere to strict quality standards. Their products are often part of research studies that analyze how different probiotic strains work for different conditions. They are able to provide safety and efficiency data for their products.
2. Read the Label Carefully
Each probiotic supplement should have a label that clearly states:
How many probiotic organisms it contains
There are 2 numbers, which are widely used. Some manufacturers tell you how many probiotic supplements they guarantee per serving at the end of the manufacturing process. Other manufacturers, instead, tell you how many probiotics the product will contain at expiration or ‘best before’ date. Some manufacturers will list both these numbers.
True probiotic supplements need to contain at least 1 billion live probiotic organisms per serving. Most quality supplements, though, contain more than that.
Which probiotic strains are included in the supplement
Popular probiotic supplements typically contain more than one species of probiotic bacteria.
The product label should give you a list of all included probiotics. Ideally, the label should tell you the whole names of organisms – the probiotic’s group, species, and strain (for example, Bifidobacterium Longer Reuter).
Instructions on storing the product
Some probiotics need to be stored in refrigerator, others not. The label should clearly state how you need to store your probiotic supplement to ensure maximum potency. It should also include a ‘best before’ date.
If the product needs to be refrigerated, make sure that you are buying it from a supplier that keeps the product in the right conditions during storage and transport.
3. Choose the Product That is Best For Your Condition
Besides quality, the thing that matters most is your reason for getting a probiotic supplement. There are different probiotic formulations available; each meant for different use. These formulations vary in strains that they include and in number of live probiotic organisms that they contain.
Most commonly used formulations are:
For long term, preventative probiotic supplementation
These are meant for healthy adults that take probiotic supplements as part of their daily supplement regime; for maintaining health, supporting the immune system, and preventing disease. These formulations usually provide relatively low amounts of probiotics per serving (typically 1 to 15 billion live bacteria per day)
For gastrointestinal conditions
These conditions include infectious diarrhea, disrupted intestinal flora due to antibiotic treatment, abdominal gas and bloating, irregular bowel movements, Helicobacter Pylori infection, acid reflux, and other digestive problems.
Usually, the supplements for gastrointestinal issues contain specifically chosen strains that have been scientifically proven to work best for the health of gastro tract (one example of such probiotic is Saccharomyces boulardii, which is great for relieving both infectious as well as antibiotic diarrhea).
For vaginal infections
There are two types of probiotic supplements for vaginal infections: oral and vaginal.
Oral supplements are capsules containing probiotic strains, which survive the harsh condition in the gastrointestinal tract and make it to the vagina. These bacterial strains are also able to colonize the vagina and are the usual inhabitants of healthy vaginal flora.
The other type of supplements are vaginal suppositories. Usually you put them inside the vagina just before going to sleep, so they can work throughout the night (if you put them in during the day, they would leak out).
Most often the strains used in supplements for vaginal infections are bacteria from the lactic group, which create a slightly acidic environment in the vagina that inhibits the growth of pathogenic (so called ‘bad’) bacteria and yeasts.
For oral health
Supplements for oral health usually include patented strain of probiotic bacteria, called Bliss K12. This well researched strain offers proven benefits for the health of the oral cavity and related structures (nasal passage, sinuses). Supplements that target oral area typically come in the form of lozenges, which you dissolve in your mouth.
For medically diagnosed, severe gastrointestinal conditions
These include conditions such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrom, and pouchitis.
Probiotics that are used for these conditions are high potency probiotic products that contain up to 900 billion live organisms per serving.
4. Survivability of Probiotic Strains
An important aspect of quality probiotic supplements is that the manufacturers somehow ensure that the probiotics reach the target area (lower intestinal tract) relatively unharmed. This means that the majority of probiotic organisms should get there alive and should be able to colonize the gut.
There are 2 ways in which the manufacturers approach this problem. The first way is to choose special strains that are fairly resistant to gastric juices.
The other way is to use some kind of time delay capsule; usually manufacturers use an enteric coating, which allows the capsules to dissolve in the intestines and not in the stomach.
Check on the label to see what kind of protection against harsh gastrointestinal environment is used in your product.