Supplements play an important role when the diet is not adequate to supply our needs. In the case of probiotics, one's diet is the ideal source for probiotics. These are live bacteria and need to be carefully monitored, stored, and combined for the health benefits that one would be taking them for. At this time, supplements are not monitored in the U.S. the way that food or medication is. They fall under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA). This requires that the dietary supplement or dietary ingredient manufacturer be responsible for ensuring that a dietary supplement or ingredient is safe before it is marketed. The only time that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may get involved is if action is needed to be taken against a manufacturer after the supplement is marketed and then found to be unsafe. This means that as much as we may know about probiotics, we can't be certain of the safety or content of the supplements available to us.
Prebiotics are non-digestible food components that promote the growth of healthful bacteria in your gut. In essence, they are "good" bacteria promoters. In addition to improving digestive health, prebiotics can also enhance calcium absorption. Prebiotics are components of nondigestible fibers and are found in many plant foods. Rich sources of prebiotics include garlic, onion, leeks, asparagus, dandelion greens, and sunchokes. Prebiotics and probiotics work synergistically to optimize gut health. Hench, meals or products that combine these together have a symbiotic effect.
As you age, your body needs different supplements and vitamins to stay healthy. Renew Life 50+ Ultimate Flora Probiotic is a smart choice for adults over 50 because it is specifically formulated with seniors in mind. It has 30 billion live cultures and 12 strains of probiotics, including Bifidobacteria, which is a probiotic that decreases in your body as you age. Seniors develop less of the “good” bacteria as they age, and Ultimate Flora has three times the average live cultures in each dose to help replenish and protect gut and immune health. This 60-day supply should be refrigerated to maintain the live cultures.
Kefir is a thick and creamy fermented milk product. It tastes tangy like yogurt. Probiotic strains in kefir may help reduce cholesterol, protect against cancer, fight allergies, and improve the digestion of lactose. Kefir is rich in lactic acid bacteria (LAB), friendly bacteria that may help prevent and treat diarrhea, boost immunity, and improve the body's ability to ward off infection. Kefir is rich in Lactococcus lactis, Lactobacillus kefir, Lactococcus cremoris, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus casei, and a few varieties of beneficial yeast. You can learn to make your own kefir using kefir grains as the starter.
Naturally fermented pickles, the type in which vinegar is not used in the pickling process, are rich sources of good bacteria. Sea salt and water are used in a fermentation process that results in the growth of good bacteria. Make sure vinegar was not used in the pickling process as pickles made in this way will not be rich in bacteria that boosts healthy gut flora. Beneficial bugs in fermented foods like pickles boost gut health and encourage a diverse microbiome. Eating foods that are rich in probiotic bacteria such as pickles retards the growth of harmful bacteria and it boosts the body's defenses against infection.
That’s why adding probiotics and prebiotics to your diet provide the best possible outcome from a bacterial perspective. It isn’t always easy to eat naturally prebiotic-enriched foods, however, because they are often distasteful to eat in quantity. Would you enjoy eating several cups of raw onion or garlic every day? Probably not. Other foods that contain prebiotic fiber, such as bread and bananas, are high in calories. Consuming hundreds of calories of these foods every day is counterproductive if you’re trying to lose weight.

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 >>  

In addition to the prophylactic effect of stocking your gut with good bacteria, there are some probiotic strains that have also shown promise in treating symptoms of autoimmune disorders, including L. Paracasei and L. Acidophilus. Others, like B. Lactis, could help prevent respiratory infections. Renew Life Flora Extra Care has all three targeted bacteria strains at 30 billion CFUs per serving.
While the logic behind probiotics might seem sound, it is clear that we have a long way to go before understanding the complexity of the microbiota and the effects—both good and bad—that probiotics might have. All individuals have a unique gut microbiome, and the effects of different bacteria on different people are likely to be highly variable; as such, probiotic use might even need to be personalised for optimal benefits. Commercially available products might not contain the correct strains or quantities of bacteria to provide benefits, and most probiotic supplements contain only single strains, vastly oversimplifying the complexity of the microbiota. While taking a supplement for improved health is certainly an attractive prospect, those looking to aid their gut microbiota might be better served by consuming a healthy, varied diet. In the meantime, rigorous clinical trials are needed to substantiate potential health benefits and to confirm whether probiotics are elixirs or just empty promises.
In addition to the prophylactic effect of stocking your gut with good bacteria, there are some probiotic strains that have also shown promise in treating symptoms of autoimmune disorders, including L. Paracasei and L. Acidophilus. Others, like B. Lactis, could help prevent respiratory infections. Renew Life Flora Extra Care has all three targeted bacteria strains at 30 billion CFUs per serving.

BlueBiotics is a good product to start with and then evaluate from there. The cold is actually good for probiotics as freezing them extends the life of the cultures. Companies who freeze dry their probiotics (which if I’m not mistaken, each of these companies do), but having them shipped in very high temperatures can and does kill probiotic microorganisms so it’s definitely a concern. Ideally, it’s better to stock up during the winter so that you don’t have your product stuck in the back of a hot truck before it gets to you.
Abdominal pain can have many causes that range from mild to severe. Some of these causes include bloating, gas, colitis, endometriosis, food poisoning, GERD, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), ovarian cysts, abdominal adhesions, diverticulitis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, gallbladder disease, liver disease, and cancers. Signs and symptoms of the more serious causes include dehydration, bloody or black tarry stools, severe abdominal pain, pain with no urination or painful urination. Treatment for abdominal pain depends upon the cause.
A closer look at the science underlying microbe-based treatments, however, shows that most of the health claims for probiotics are pure hype. The majority of studies to date have failed to reveal any benefits in individuals who are already healthy. The bacteria seem to help only those people suffering from a few specific intestinal disorders. “There is no evidence to suggest that people with normal gastrointestinal tracts can benefit from taking probiotics,” says Matthew Ciorba, a gastroenterologist at Washington University in St. Louis. “If you're not in any distress, I would not recommend them.” Emma Allen-Vercoe, a microbiologist at the University of Guelph in Ontario, agrees. For the most part, she says, “the claims that are made are enormously inflated.”
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Probiotics stick around for a while, though for how long isn’t precisely clear. You have to keep taking them to continue to reap the benefits. Further, getting a wide variety of strains into your system is beneficial. “Periodically mixing up your probiotic supplement is also a good way to ensure that you get different health-building strains in your health regime,” says Dr. Cook.
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Other uses. Many other claims are made for probiotics—that they lower cholesterol, alleviate allergic skin conditions (like eczema), treat ulcers and urinary tract infections, improve vaginal health, reduce the risk of colon cancer, ease anxiety and depression, and ward off traveler’s diarrhea. Good evidence to support these claims is lacking. Research on probiotics for weight loss has yielded inconsistent results, and even studies with positive results have mostly found very small benefits, as was seen in an analysis of 15 clinical trials in Obesity Reviews in 2018.

Unfortunately, the U.S. has no federal standards for probiotic supplements. Therefore, you run the risk of purchasing a product without any guarantee that it contains its advertised probiotic strains, that the strains are alive, or that the product is free from unhealthy ingredients. Therefore, it may be best to choose a brand-name probiotic that has research backing their effectiveness. Here are some examples:
Prebiotics are considered by some to be non-digestible carbohydrates, that are not digested by the body but nourish the micro-organisms in the colon. They occur naturally in the diet and are found in foods such as garlic, bananas, oats, onions and leeks. This idea has been criticised by some due to its poor definition and some scientists prefer to use the term 'microbiota accessible carbohydrates', as they are fermentable dietary fibre that the microbes can use. However, foods containing prebiotics are also the components of a healthy diet and should therefore be consumed regularly.
I really like your article as it contains a lot of valuable information. the only thing id like to hear more about is the how your rating stacks up to the probiotics geared towards women specifically. I read the listing in, “what to look for” as you suggested but again it doesn’t discuss any findings along the lines of womens specific strands or brands that highlight aiding women more than another. Id love to hear your opinion on the matter or if you might be able to shed any light on the subject at hand. Thanks Julia!
Some yogurts contain the aforementioned bacteria; however, because they are sensitive to oxygen, light, and dramatic temperature changes, make sure to look for yogurts with “live and active cultures.” Many commercial yogurts are heat-treated or pasteurized, resulting in the loss of these valuable cultures. Learn more about the smart way to shop for probiotics.
Even if a product's label shows it has the jackpot billion CFUs, they may not all be present when you swallow the pill. That's because probiotics are living organisms; they can die when it's too hot (if the label says to refrigerate, do it), and if they swelter too long in transit or on a shelf, the bacteria may be DOA. Meaning, if you're out running errands, pick up your probiotic supplements last, as they may lose some of their potency if left in a hot car. The good bugs also decay over time, so when you're shopping, choose the container with the furthest-out expiration date.
Probiotics are very promising and used quite often in practice. Many physicians, including myself, use them regularly for many gastrointestinal issues and other issues like infant colic, preventing diarrhea in patients taking antibiotics and for overall immune and respiratory health. There is still a lot more research that needs to be conducted but it is clear that they are here to stay, and the research base is likely only going to lead to increased use in many other conditions in both preventing and treating diseases.
An October 2001 report by the World Health Organization (WHO) defines probiotics as live microorganisms that, "when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host."[16][4] Following this definition, a working group convened by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)/WHO in May 2002 issued the Guidelines for the Evaluation of Probiotics in Food.[17] A consensus definition of the term probiotics, based on available information and scientific evidence, was adopted after the aforementioned joint expert consultation between the FAO of the United Nations and the WHO. This effort was accompanied by local governmental and supra-governmental regulatory bodies' requirements to better characterize health claims substantiations.
"Although all of our probiotic-consuming volunteers showed probiotics in their stool, only some of them showed them in their gut, which is where they need to be," co-senior author Eran Segal, a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute, said in the statement. "If some people resist and only some people permit them, the benefits of the standard probiotics we all take can't be as universal as we once thought."
Hi Julia. I am 71 (male) and have had digestive issues for most of my life and no specific diagnosis. I eat fairly well, am not overweight, get gassy from many different foods and beverages. I have been using Culturelle for 9 months and feel the benefit from taking it is small. Your review leads me to believe there may be better choices. They certainly are not cheap but I will gladly pay for them if they give me results. I am probably going to try BlueBiotics unless you have other suggestions. My main question is since I live in Minnesota I will receive shipments in the summer with temps of up to + 100F and winters down to – 15F. Will this cause a decrease in product viability for this or other brands you recommended? Thank you for your help.
When choosing the probiotic that’s right for you, don’t be afraid to ask your health professional for advice. Or reach out directly to supplement companies for supportive research. The reliable manufacturers expect this. “I would encourage consumers to request the clinical research evidence to substantiate the use of a formula or the microbes it contains,” advises Thomas. Find out more facts you’ve always wanted to know about probiotics.
Antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD) may be prevented by coadministration of probiotics, as suggested by several randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Several comprehensive meta-analyses, recently published, all show that probiotics significantly decreased incidence of AAD (RR 0.39–0.43) [McFarland, 2006; Szajewska and Mrukowicz, 2005; Cremonini et al. 2002; D’Souza et al. 2002]. The effects were similar across all categories and formulations of probiotics and treatment durations. The most commonly used probiotics were S. boulardii, LABs, and several combinations of LABs, given in doses from 107 to 1011, for durations of 5–49 days, generally paralleling the duration of antibiotic therapy. One of the meta-analyses found that S. boulardii, L. rhamnosus, and multiple mixtures of two different probiotics were the most protective against AAD [McFarland, 2006]. Other specific preparations have been studied to a lesser extent and that may be why their efficacy has been found to be less significant. One randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in individuals over the age of 50 using combination L. casei, L. bulgaricus, and S. thermophilus twice daily during a course of antibiotics and for 1 week after the completion of antibiotic therapy showed reduction in the incidence of AAD [Hickson et al. 2007].
When your gut is healthy, you have a large, thriving population of beneficial or friendly bacteria, or probiotics, supporting your immune system receptor cells. They help form a protective barrier within your colon and intestines. Optimizing and supporting the beneficial bacteria in your gut is one of the most powerful things you can do for your health and well being, including your immune health.
Whether a brand of probiotics works really depends on its quality and your body's own gut. Everyone has a different set of gut flora so try several to see what works for you. Using a brand of at least 40 billion CFU is best. There seems to be some debate as to whether one should use refrigerated or unrefrigerated probiotics. I went with the side that claims unrefrigerated are sturdier and less prone to die off.
Lacto-bacillus plantarum: If you’ve ever heard of the beneficial effects of fermented foods (pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, etc.), then you’ve heard of this powerful probiotic, which may help improve the symptoms of IBS, gluten intolerance, soy allergies, and Crohn’s disease. This is also one of the most antibiotic-resistant probiotics, which is especially important if you have taken antibiotics recently.

Most of the prebiotics identified are oligosaccharides. They are resistant to the human digestive enzymes that work on all other carbohydrates. This means that they pass through the upper GI system without being digested. They then get fermented in the lower colon and produce short-chain fatty acids that will then nourish the beneficial microbiota that live there. Oligosaccharides can be synthesized or obtained from natural sources. These sources include asparagus, artichoke, bamboo shoots, banana, barley, chicory, leeks, garlic, honey, lentils, milk, mustards, onion, rye, soybean, sugar beet, sugarcane juice, tomato, wheat, and yacón. The health benefits from these oligosaccharides is a topic of ongoing research.
These are live microorganisms that will not provide the promised benefits if they don't remain alive. The manufacturer and consumer must pay close attention to the conditions of storage at which the particular microorganism will survive and the end of their shelf life. The potency will indicate the number of viable bacteria per dose, and the purity has to do with presence of contaminating or ineffective bacteria.

Myriad factors – antibiotics, diet, stress, and age, among them – affect the balance of diverse microbes present in your gut. While you can replenish your gut bacteria by eating well and incorporating natural probiotics (ex. yogurt and kefir) into a healthy diet, these processes can take weeks or months; taking a regular probiotic is an easy and effective way to ensure your gut (and immune system) stays healthy, always.
That’s why adding probiotics and prebiotics to your diet provide the best possible outcome from a bacterial perspective. It isn’t always easy to eat naturally prebiotic-enriched foods, however, because they are often distasteful to eat in quantity. Would you enjoy eating several cups of raw onion or garlic every day? Probably not. Other foods that contain prebiotic fiber, such as bread and bananas, are high in calories. Consuming hundreds of calories of these foods every day is counterproductive if you’re trying to lose weight.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) calls probiotics “live microorganisms (in most cases, bacteria) that are similar to beneficial microorganisms found in the human gut.” The NCCIH makes the point that we often think of bacteria as harmful “germs” — however, probiotic bacteria actually helps the body function properly.

Further complicating things is that the mix of bacteria in people’s guts varies widely — in fact, it’s probably unique to you, like a fingerprint. What’s more, your microbiome can change based on your diet or lifestyle, or due to illness, so what might work for one person with a certain condition or symptom might not won’t work for another, Dr. Rawls says.
^ Jump up to: a b Hill, C; Guarner, F; Reid, G; Gibson, GR; Merenstein, DJ; Pot, B; Morelli, L; Canani, RB; Flint, HJ; Salminen, S; Calder, PC; Sanders, ME (August 2014). "Expert consensus document. The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics consensus statement on the scope and appropriate use of the term probiotic". Nature Reviews. Gastroenterology & Hepatology. 11 (8): 506–14. doi:10.1038/nrgastro.2014.66. PMID 24912386.
"Probiotics applied topically sit on the skin's surface and prevent the skin cells from seeing the bad bacteria and parasites that can cause this immune system response," confirms Engelman. "This is known as 'bacterial interference,' as probiotics protect the skin and interfere with the ability of bad bugs like bacteria and parasites to provoke an immune reaction.
Immunity and colds/flu.There’s a close connection between the bacteria in your colon and the immune system. Several studies, including one in 2012 in the British Journal of Nutrition, have found that certain probiotic strains boost measures of immune response—but whether this translates into any clinical benefits is uncertain. Studies have been inconsistent, for example, as to whether probiotics will actually curb colds and other upper respiratory infections. In 2014 a review in the British Journal of Nutrition, which looked at 20 clinical trials, linked probiotics to shorter duration of colds, but not necessarily reduced incidence or severity. Similarly, a 2015 Cochrane review of 12 clinical trials concluded that certain probiotics may help prevent or shorten such infections, though the quality of the studies was poor.

Evidence from clinical trials is mixed and often of low quality, but findings from meta-analyses suggest that probiotics can provide benefits in the treatment of some conditions, such as infectious and antibiotic-associated diarrhoea. As such, taking probiotics after antibiotic treatment is an increasingly common practice. However, two studies recently reported in Cell question whether taking highly concentrated supplements of so-called good bacteria aids the recovery of normal gut flora. 

Research indicates that the gut and brain are in constant communication, and the health of your gut can have a big, supportive impact on your mental health and well-being.17 One reason is the role the gut microbiome plays in maintaining your hormones––in addition to oxytocin, your beneficial bacteria also support your levels of serotonin (the "happy hormone), and cortisol (which is associated with high stress levels).18 They also help encourage GABA, an important neurotransmitter that determines how your body responds to stress. When you support your microbiome with probiotics, it can help to keep everything balanced, but if it becomes unbalanced and unwanted bacteria take over, you can end up with a low mood and anxious thoughts.19
Lavermicocca, P., Dekker, M., Russo, F., Valerio, F., Di Venere, D., & Sisto, A. (2015, October 8). Lactobacillus paracasei-enriched vegetables containing health promoting molecules [Abstract]. Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics: Bioactive Foods in Health Promotion, 361–370. Retrieved from https://moh-it.pure.elsevier.com/en/publications/lactobacillus-paracasei-enriched-vegetables-containing-health-pro
For our website and catalog, the MSRP is the "Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price." The MSRP is understood to mean the price at which a manufacturer will recommend a retailer sell a product for in stores, on the internet, or in catalogs. The MSRP of National brand items are dictated to Swanson by each manufacturer. For Swanson brand items, the MSRP is calculated based on a varying percentage above the product's base price.
Probiotics have been used therapeutically for many centuries in different parts of the world for their contribution to longevity and digestive health. The World Health Organization has defined probiotics as ‘live organisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host’. Categories of probiotics in use today include: bacteria such as lactic-acid bacteria (LAB) and Escherichia coli strains (such as E. coli Nissle 1917), as well as yeast species including most prominently Saccharomyces boulardii among others (Table 1). Prebiotics such as lactulose, inulin, psyllium, and other oligosaccharides (found in onions, garlic, asparagus, leeks, artichoke, bananas, tomatoes, wheat, oats, soy beans, and other plants) are nondigestible food ingredients that stimulate the growth or activity of bacteria in the GI tract which are beneficial to the health of the body [Grajek et al. 2005]. Synbiotics are a combination of a prebiotic and a probiotic, such as inulin and Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG or Bifidobacter longum. Antibiotics, in contrast, are compounds that kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria.
While past studies have investigated similar questions, they have all used patients' excrement as a proxy for microbe activity in the GI tract. Instead, Elinav, his colleague Eran Segal, (a computational biologist at the Weizmann Institute), and their teams spearheaded by Niv Zmora, Jotham Suez, Gili Zilberman Schapira, and Uria Mor of the Elinav lab collaborated with Zamir Halpern, Chief of Gastroenterology at the Tel Aviv Medical Center to measure gut colonization directly.

Once GI experts realized there is more to the lower gut than first assumed, the push to understand the diverse roles these bacteria play became urgent. Many mysteries still need solving, but clinical evidence increasingly indicates that people in good health should optimize lower gut bacteria. You can accomplish this by eating prebiotics to encourage the growth of your existing gut microbes, and probiotics to add to the ones that are already there.

Keep in mind that when supplements contain a specific number of organisms, this number may not be what is actually within each capsule at the time of purchase. Probiotics are living organisms and can die out easily. Especially if that supplement sits on your drugstore or warehouse shelf for months or longer, the number of organisms you get may be far less than what the bottle claims. Hardier strains have a longer shelf life. Capsule strength decays faster if the probiotic has been sitting around at elevated temperatures during transport to the store. Companies actually have to produce probiotics with a much higher CFU (colony-forming units; see below) count in each capsule in order to guarantee the label potency by the expiration date.
You may be hearing and seeing more about probiotics these days, but these “friendly” bacteria are nothing new. Indeed, the word probiotic is of Greek origin and means “for life.” “Almost every culture has a fermented food that contains probiotics,” says Donald Novey, MD, an integrative medicine physician with the Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill. Products like yogurt, miso (fermented soybean paste), and some juices and soy beverages contain probiotics.
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 >>
Probiotics are contained in a variety of different products, including foods, dietary supplements, infant formula, medical foods, pharmaceuticals and even devices (such as tampons that deliver probiotics). Evidence for the benefits of probiotics is emerging, but strong evidence for probiotic benefit has been seen with reducing antibiotic associated diarrhea, improving mild to moderate IBS and other digestive symptoms, reduce crying time in colicky but otherwise healthy infants, reducing the incidence and duration of common upper respiratory tract infections and helping manage vaginal infections. Probiotics are also used in some hospitals to help prevent necrotizing enterocolitis in premature infants.
As one of the best probiotics for weight loss, there have been a slew of studies demonstrating just how powerful this strain of bacteria may be when it comes to your waistline. For instance, one study in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that taking Lactobacillus gasseri daily led to significant reductions in body weight and body fat compared to a control group, with participants losing up to 8.5 percent body fat over a 12-week period. (13)
Smits H.H., Engering A., van der Kleij D., de Jong E.C., Schipper K., van Capel T.M., et al. (2005) Selective probiotic bacteria induce IL-10-producing regulatory T cells in vitro by modulating dendritic cell function through dendritic cell-specific intercellular adhesion molecule 3-grabbing nonintegrin J Allergy Clin Immunol 115: 1260–1267 [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
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