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Question: What are prebiotics? Is it important to look for them when choosing a probiotic supplement?
Answer: As discussed in detail in the Probiotic Supplements Review, prebiotics (such as inulin and fructo-oligosaccharides or FOS) are plant-based complex sugars that act as food for healthy bacteria (probiotics), promoting their growth in the digestive tract. Two to 6 grams per day of prebiotics are sufficient. This amount can easily be provided by eating certain foods (see the list in the Review). It can also be provided by supplements -- although, due to the relatively large amount of prebiotic needed, this would require multiple pills, so another form, such as a powder, may be preferable. Some probiotic supplements include a prebiotic, but typically only a small amount (less than a quarter of a gram per pill).
For more information, including other potential benefits of prebiotics and possible side effects, as well as our tests and comparisons of probiotic supplements which contain prebiotics, see the Probiotic Supplements Review >>