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How do I chose the best probiotic?

Question:
How do I choose the best probiotic supplement? There are so many different strains of bacteria!

Answer:
Since the effects of individual bacteria strains vary, the first thing to consider when choosing a probiotic supplement is the reason you are taking it. Certain strains, for example, may help with weight loss, lower cholesterol or reduce allergy symptoms, while others have been shown to help with digestive issues, such as diarrhea from antibiotics and irritable bowel syndrome. The uses and evidence for various strains are summarized in a reference table in the Probiotic Supplements Review (be aware that certain strains should be avoided by people with milk allergies or people taking certain medications).

Once you have identified the right strain or strains, it's important to find a product that provides a dose that's been shown to be effective, and that contains it's labeled dose (ConsumerLab.com tests have found some probiotic supplements to contain less than half the amount of organisms claimed on the label!) To get test results for popular products, plus additional tips for choosing a probiotic supplement, see the Probiotic Supplements Review >>


See other recent and popular questions >>
COMMENTS

Barbara8626   April 10, 2016
What probiotics are most helpful in preventing diarrhea from ibs?

ConsumerLab.com   April 11, 2016
Hi Barbara - You can find this information in the section about IBS in the Probiotic Supplements Review: https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/_/probiotics/#ibsyndrome

Michele8616   April 6, 2016
I have been taking Probiotics for IBS diagnosed about 3 years ago, and along with some diet changes, it has been nothing short of miraculous. I did have to do some trial and error to find the right bacterial strains. I recommend starting with one of the recommended products with some research for IBS; use a product with the most different strains possible. Stay on it for at least a month; if you don't see a positive result or only a partial result, try different strains. Keep a log. I unwittingly swithced products from one containing 12 strains to one containing 11 and went from awesome to awful cramps, bloating diarrhea etc, but at least now I know which strains work for me.

Elaine8622   April 9, 2016
Thank you for this knowledge. I have not kept a log, but now must do it. I worry about pro-biotics in pill form because of viability. How can dried probiotics be viable and actually get through stomach acid and into out digestive systems? Thank you for an answer.

ConsumerLab.com   April 12, 2016
Hi Elaine - Most probiotics sold in pill form are dried in a way which keeps them in a dormant yet still viable state, coming "back to life" once exposed to water/nutrients. Although this helps to preserve them, it is not a guarantee that all will survive. If exposed to moisture or excessive heat during storage, they can become non-viable. This is why ConsumerLab.com tests probiotic supplements to determine how many viable cells they contain (see the results here: https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/_/probiotics/#results). For more information about this and withstanding stomach acid, see the "What to Consider When Buying" section of the Probiotics Review (https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/_/probiotics/#buying), and this CL Answer: https://www.consumerlab.com/answers/_/probiotics_enteric_coating/.

harold jitschak8222   December 30, 2015
I did see quite a while ago an official scientific study [can't quote alas] that stated that possible[there seems to be quite a bit of evidence to this] even dead bacteria [non viable] from probiotics may have the same effect as the viable form.
I would have left this alone if it was not from a respected source [which I don't remember]
Do you know anything about this statement or do you have any opinion?

ConsumerLab.com   December 31, 2015
Hi Harold - There is some evidence from laboratory and animal studies that non-viable probiotic strains may have some effects; see these two articles (the links are not live but you can copy and paste them in your browser) :

The immunomodulatory properties of probiotic microorganisms beyond their viability (ghost probiotics: proposal of paraprobiotic concept) --http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3145061/

The probiotic paradox: live and dead cells are biological
response modifiers -- http://journals.cambridge.org/download.php?file=%2FNRR%2FNRR23_01%2FS0954422410000090a.pdf&code=a678a403f613682501f7ea49a2a202a6

However, to date, there do not appear to be studies in people.

harold jitschak8236   December 31, 2015
Thanks a lot of finding the articles back.
Clinically one should have quite soon an idea of these non-viable probiotics would work as in my experience patients can quite easily judge if they feel better with probiotics.
I don't think we will need double blind studies for this.
With a few tens of patients one should have a reasonable idea, I would think.

Barbara Alverson397   January 14, 2015
I ordered Periobalance probiotic for gum disease from G.U.M. After taking it for a few days, I experienced severe gastrointestinal problems . Figured out it has sucralose in it and I dont tolerate artificial sweeteners . They didn't show the ingredients on the web site .

ConsumerLab.com   January 15, 2015
Hi Barbara - Thanks for letting us know about your experience with this product. You may be interested in this study using PerioBalance GUM (https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/%20/probiotics/#periodontitis) which is discussed in the Probiotics Supplements Review.

jill393   January 14, 2015
It's been said that a majority of probiotics do not survive passage through the acid in the stomach. Is there truth to that statement?

ConsumerLab.com   January 14, 2015
Hi Jill - Please see the "Withstanding stomach acid" section of the Probiotic Supplements Review: https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/%20/probiotics/#withstanding


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This CL Answer initially posted on 1/14/2015. Last updated 8/4/2017.
ConsumerLab.com members may submit questions to CLAnswers@ConsumerLab.com. We read all questions and try to answer those of popular interest.

 
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