How do I Choose the Best Probiotic Formula?

Erin J. Hill

Choosing the best probiotic formula should involve determining what you wish to use the supplement for and tailoring your options to meet that need. Most probiotics are sold to improve digestive function, but there are formulas designed for female reproductive health as well as to boost immune function. Additionally, you should choose formulations which are designed for your specific age group.

Probiotic supplements should contain live active cultures of good bacteria to be effective.
Probiotic supplements should contain live active cultures of good bacteria to be effective.

The best probiotic formula is the one which is designed to best meet your needs. You should do research to determine the type of bacteria naturally found in your body and find options which contain those types. If the exact species is not available, a subspecies may still be beneficial at keeping pathogens at bay. For instance, there are several species of lactobacillus, but different types live in different areas of the body. The types found in the digestive tract are not always the same as those found in the reproductive system.

You should choose a probiotic formula which also contains prebiotics. These are sugars and carbohydrates which feed the bacteria found in supplements. They can also help protect them and keep them alive as they travel through the digestive tract until they make to the area where they are needed. If the flora do not remain living long enough to enter your intestines, they will be of little benefit.

Not all varieties of probiotics are created equal. You should choose a probiotic formula which contains several billion cultures of live bacteria rather than just those in the millions. Once the supplements are manufactured they can begin losing potency quickly, because bacteria naturally die over time. Having more in each dose initially will help ensure that you have enough when you actually take them.

To ensure safety, you should also be sure to choose a probiotic formula designed for the specific age groups. This is not as important for adults, but if you will be giving the probiotics to an infant or young child, you should purchase products specially designed for them. There is generally very little difference in ingredients, but infant probiotics are usually powdered to be mixed with food or a bottle. Occasionally, an overdose can occur if you give adult probiotics to an infant, and diarrhea or other digestive problems can result. Diarrhea can be serious in very young infants if not properly controlled.

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