3 Things You Must Know About Probiotics
Study Your Strains
Some companies like to tout the number of strains of probiotics in their products—because the more, the better, right? Not necessarily. While researchers have yet to reach a consensus about which mix of strains is best, there are some all-stars you should know about. Look for Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus reuteri, Saccharomyces boulardii or bifidobacteria. These are among the best-studied microbes for fighting infection. In some clinical trials, Lactobacillus strains, in particular, have been found to have a significant cure rate for bacterial vaginosis, an infection that affects nearly 30 percent of women ages 14 to 49.
There's no one-size-fits-all dosage for probiotics. Researchers have found that different strains of bacteria can be effective at different levels. One study showed, for example, that doses ranging from 5.5 million to 50 billion units of bacteria can treat or prevent certain gastrointestinal diseases.
When buying probiotic supplements (which are made of living organisms that can easily die on the shelf), look for ones sealed in blister packs. Heat, light, and moisture are the enemies here, and quality packaging is your friend.