5 Key Things to Look For When Choosing a Good Quality Probiotic
How do you know what probiotic to choose when you are staring at the shelf in the pharmacy with tons of different choices?? What makes a good quality probiotic? Why should I be taking a probiotic anyway?
“Probiotic” is a word with Greek roots: “pro” meaning “promoting” and “biotic” meaning “life.” The World Health Organization defines probiotics as “live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” We usually think of bacteria as bad for us, and the wrong bacteria in the wrong place can certainly cause problems. But the right bacteria in the right place can be helpful in many ways.
They can keep your digestive and immune systems healthy, help you manage weight, boost your mood, and possibly even keep you feeling and looking younger! Many studies have shown a correlation between gut health and autoimmune diseases! TRUTH: by taking control of our gut health, we can take control of our overall health!
So, how do make sure that we pick out a good one that will be effective for us? I will answer that question right now! There are five important criterion to take into consideration:
1. At least 3 billion CFU's or more: CFU stands for colony forming unit and a good-quality probiotic should have at least three billion or more CFU's. FYI, 3 billion CFU's is a typical maintenance dose.
2. Diversity of Strains: Diversity of strains is vital to picking a probiotic. For the average adult, you want to look for a nice mix of Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. This will ensure you are supporting both your large and small intestine. They are sometimes abbreviated on the label starting with L. and B. When you see probiotics with upwards of 20 strains, keep in mind that only a small portion of those strains will actually reach your gut and be beneficial to your health Look for ones that maybe have anywhere from five to eight different strains of bacteria.
3. Shelf Life of the Product: You want to pick out a probiotic that is stable until the expiration date on the bottle. If your product says that it requires refrigeration, then that is a very good indicator that it's not going to be very stable for very long. Additionally, you can't really know for sure it it was stored properly before it got to you. Ideally, you want a product that says that it doesn't require refrigeration and that it's guaranteed potent until expiration.
4. Free of chemicals and artificial ingredients: Turn the bottle around and read the ingredients list, including the inactive ingredients. You want to pick out a product that does not contain anything artificial. If there are too many words that you can not pronounce, then this is probably not a great option
5. NSF or USP certified: Look for a product that has been certified, either NSF-certified or certified by the US Pharmacopeia, abbreviated with a USP symbol. This certification guarantees that there is nothing harmful (bacteria, lead, arsenic) contained in the product and that each tablet does contain what the label states that it contains. This is very important! Manufactures have to pay for this certification so this is proof that the manufacture is diligent about following good manufacturing processes and this can give you a little peace of mind. FYI, Supplements such as herbs, botanicals, and over-the-counter vitamins and minerals are not approved by the FDA because these types of supplements do no fall under the FDA's scope of authority. This is why these certifications are so important!
I believe that a probiotic should be part of your daily routine as a healthy gut is a great place to start with taking control of your health and is at the center of so many of our bodies processes. A good probiotic will help to build your immunity and you will likely feel better and have more energy as a result. I take a probiotic every day and I choose a product called Probio manufactured by LifeVantage. I choose this product because it is NSF certified, has 6 billion CFU's, is stable until expiration, does not have to be refrigerated, and has a good diversity of bacteria strands. Even better, it uses a time release mechanism to ensure that the good bacteria reach your small intestine to exert its effects and doesn't get eaten up by your stomach acid. You can learn more about Probio here. Please feel free to comment on this blog post with any questions or comments that you have about using Probiotics. As a pharmacist, I am here to help and look forward to answering your questions!
A Healthier Gut for a Healthier You!