By Dr. Jarom Ipson, NMD
There are hundreds of options available and it’s hard to know which one is the best option. There are a few important factors that will help you know how to find the best probiotic for you. Refrigeration is not required for all probiotics. The key is knowing what temperature your probiotic was produced in. Die off happens when a probiotic goes from cold to hot and hot to cold. I regularly recommend a probiotic that is stable at room temperature for my patients (It is often easier to remember to take the probiotic if they are in your medicine cabinet rather than fridge). Die off is a major issue with probiotics. The bacteria they contain will die as they sit on the shelf. The best probiotic manufacturers know that this happens and actually formulate their probiotics at a higher temperature so they can guarantee potency through the expiration date. Probiotics are measured in CFU, or colony forming units, and these numbers get into the billions. The minimum amount of CFU’s you want in a good probiotic is 20 billion. There are some good probiotics that are not measured in CFU’s and each of these companies would have a conversion on their website. The last key ingredient in a good probiotic is a variety of strains, which are the different types of good bacteria they contain. I look for a minimum of 5 strains. Different strains can be used for different purposes. There are strains that are good for infants, children, and specific health conditions. These probiotics should be labeled for their target and the same criteria applies.
When you are buying probiotics you want to make sure that they are coming from a good place. As I mentioned above die off is a huge issue and if a probiotic wasn’t stored correctly there could literally be no life left in the probiotic. Retail stores and massive online vitamin warehouses are not always the best place to find probiotics. You have no idea how long that probiotic was sitting on the shelf or in the back of a crowded hot warehouse before you pulled it off the shelf or purchased in online.