How Do You Choose a Probiotic?

Probiotics in our bodies.

Within 48 hours of birth microorganisms are colonizing our brand-new digestive tract as a component of the birth canal and either mother’s milk or formula, a crucial early life milestone that is a normal part of gastrointestinal and immune system development.*

As we grow and mature we obtain probiotic organisms from our diet, primarily from fermented foods and dairy products such as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, pickles, sauerkraut and more. Because they’re found in foods and are a natural part of the human body’s ecosystem, probiotics are considered safe for human use.

Once probiotic microorganisms have colonized our digestive tract they continue to flourish throughout our lifetime, but numerous factors can adversely affect the balance of microorganisms, either by having a negative effect on beneficial organisms or introducing harmful ones into the gut ecosystem. So obtaining probiotics from our diet throughout life is important for everyone, from infants to the elderly, to maintain a healthy balance of gut flora.*

In addition, a good probiotic formula can help to quickly replenish vital gut microflora during travel or other stressful situations and help to maintain normal digestive function.*

With so many available, how do you choose between them?

Try our Probiotic & Gut Health Product Finder.

There are so many different probiotics on the market, all with different potencies and ingredients. Here are a few things that you need to consider when choosing for yourself.

  • Before selecting a probiotic supplement, it is essential to identify what health concerns you are seeking to improve by taking a probiotic, and which bacteria or yeasts are likely to make a difference for your specific goal or situation. Research on probiotics shows time and time again that different strains will have different effects on the body.*
  • Probiotics are measured in CFUs (Colony Forming Units). This number should be prominently displayed on the front of the box or bottle you are looking at. Some probiotics contain 1 billion cultures while some contain 200 billion and more. Try not to overly preoccupy yourself with the number of billions that you are getting. There’s no way to tell if one certain number works best for you or not. Just experiment and see what amounts seem to provide you with benefits.
  • The label should clearly state the genus, species and strains of the microorganisms (Lactobacillus acidophilus La-14, for example). Each group of bacteria has different species and each species can have different strains (the “code” at the end).
  • Always look for well-researched strains. A manufacturer should be able to provide proof that their probiotics contain health promoting strains of bacteria through research and clinical trials.*
  • Choose a probiotic supplement from a trustworthy manufacturer. NOW uses the latest advances in probiotic research. We offer probiotic supplements in a variety of forms for convenience, including capsules, chewable lozenges, powders, and packets. We also offer several different potencies ranging from 2 billion up to 100 billion in potency. At NOW we choose superior probiotic strains with clinically validated benefits for our probiotic formulas.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.