We know probiotics are one of the most recommended supplements for many proven benefits (Also see: 4 Proven Benefits of Probiotics). Are there differences between the different probiotics on the market? Here are 4 facts you need to know when you're choosing your probiotics:
There are many known beneficial strains of probiotics. Specifically, when we pick the right strains for the right jobs, they can become powerful allies to our health. (Also see: What are Probiotics?).
As an analogy, when we have a water leak, we would find a plumber. An electrician in this case, would not be the right person for the job. Similarly, look for strains with evidence behind a beneficial function you desire. For example, when you're choosing a probiotic for prevention of antibiotic associated diarrhea, Saccharomyces boulardii should definitely be in it. Lactobacillus acidophilus family would be beneficial for general gut flora restoration.
2. Manufacturing - Stability Testing
Stability testing goes hand in hand with storage condition data. For example, stability testing is conducted under the same temperature as the recommended storage condition on the label.
For example, when a label recommends storage under refrigeration, the stability testing was likely done under refrigeration. Also playing a role would be the studies published for specific strains on their optimal storage condition.
3. Shelf Life (CFUs at date of expiration)
This label claim is also based on the manufacturers' stability testings. There should be data supporting the label claim for CFU (Colony Forming Units) quantity guaranteed at date of expiration. In other words, no less of the number of live cells of the probiotic claimed on the label should be there at the expired date. Look for this on the label! Manufacturers can not make such claim on their labels without supporting data.
Similarly, manufacturers should have storage conditions listed. Based on studies and stability testing, storage conditions would be recommended on the label.
Always look for the above 4 things on the probiotics label. These should at least guarantee you a quality product. For specific strains and their functions, consult with your health care professional for best selection.