With the increasing amount of evidence suggesting a connection between gut bacteria and chronic disease, it's no surprise probiotic supplements have entered mainstream consciousness in a big way.
In addition to chronic gastrointestinal conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), imbalances in beneficial gut bacteria have also been implicated in autoimmune disorders such as Hashimoto's disease (chronic thyroditis) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), endocrine disorders, allergies, asthma, depression and anxiety.
But with all the probiotic formulas out there, which one should you choose? We will first look at some general considerations, then compare four well known probiotic supplements.
Safety and Efficacy
Regulatory authority for dietary supplements falls under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and is conferred by the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) and the Nutrition Labeling and Education ACT (NLEA). These regulations give exact specifications as to the safety standards that dietary manufacturers must adhere to, as well as the types of health claims that can be made on the label.
Furthermore, probiotics produced by drug manufacturers are no more regulated than those produced by companies that don't manufacture pharmaceuticals. The regulations are exactly the same for all companies. Dietary supplements imported to the United States are also required to comply with all safety and labeling laws.
Types of Probiotic Formulations
There are three main considerations when selecting a probiotic formulation:
Organisms Per Dose -- This is typically expressed as colony-forming units (CFUs) and can vary from one to 200 billion. With rare exception, formulas delivering more 25 billion CFUs aren't available to the general public and must be obtained through a properly trained practitioner.
Mix of Probiotics -- There are around 20 different strains of bacteria, and a couple strains of yeast, that are currently in use as probiotics. Each of these has a different effect on gut ecology, which may vary from person to person. While probiotics are generally considered safe, research suggests certain genuses such as Lactobacillus may contribute to increased inflammatory molecules -- an important consideration for those with autoimmune disorders.
Delivery Mechanism -- Since probiotics are alive, they're more subject to being rendered inactive than other dietary supplements. There are many differences among formulas, with respect to how to address the issues of spoilage with exposure to heat, and for assisting the probiotics in surviving stomach acid in order to make it to the lower parts of the digestive tract where they're needed.
With these general considerations in mind, let us turn to a comparison of four well-known products.
1. Garden of Life Primal Defense Ultra
This supplement provides 15 billion CFUs of 13 different probiotic species, including Bacillus subtillus, Lactobacillus plantarum and the yeast probiotic Saccharomyces boulardii. This supplement is geared toward providing digestive and immune system health specifically for better overall health.
2. Now Probiotic-10 50 Billion
This is a high-potency probiotic delivering 50 billion CFU of 10 different probiotic species. This formula is geared specifically to those who suffer from IBS, Crohn’s Disease and regular digestive upset.
3. Solaray Multidophilus Plus DDS-1 Four Billion
This product provides four billion CFU of four different probiotic species geared to support longevity. In other words, they last longer in your gut and provide better health for the long term. The supplement is designed to help with both digestive health and immune system health.
4. New Chapter Probiotic All-Flora
This supplement delivers eight billion CFU of nine different strains of live probiotic microorganisms. Making use of all organic, vegetable-based probiotics, the supplement includes apples, artichoke and other vegetable matter. The All-Flora supplement targets the digestive system as well as the immune system, providing better overall health.
While research continues to prove the effectiveness of using probiotics as treatments for specific diseases, the evidence is overwhelmingly suggestive of a potential benefit. For those who suffer from mild to moderate digestive symptoms, chances are probiotics are a pretty good bet. However, keep in mind that not all probiotics are the same and it might take more than one try to find the right one.
For those who are overly bewildered by all the choices available, or who suffer from chronic diseases, it can be helpful to consult with a health professional with specific training in gut ecology that can make a more specific recommendation for a product, and/or offer testing to more accurately determine your exact needs.
5 Reasons to Eat Greek Yogurt Greek yogurt is an easy-to-use ingredient that can help you make healthy swaps in the kitchen. Check out our five favorite reasons to keep it on hand.
The Difference Between Prebiotics and Probiotics Probiotics have become a popular choice for health, recommended by
physicians from all backgrounds. What's less known is these probiotics
need prebiotics to help them carry out all those amazing benefits.
Learn more about this important combination.
Prevent Obesity-Related Illnesses With Probiotics Probiotics are known digestive aids and immunity boosters. They can
also assist in weight loss and maintaining results. Learn the
ways these products can cut your risk for obesity-related illnesses.
Statements made about specific vitamins, supplements, procedures or other items sold on or through this website have not been evaluated by eVitamins or by the United States Food and Drug Administration. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. As always, please consult with a licensed doctor or physician before starting any diet, exercise or supplement program, before taking any vitamin or medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a problem.