You’ve most likely heard of probiotics, but many people don’t know what they actually are. Probiotics are live microorganisms that are similar to bacteria already found in the gut. Some foods naturally contain probiotics, but supplements have also been on the rise in recent years.
One of the biggest probiotic brand names is Culturelle. They’ve been in the market for over 20 years, and their products get great reviews on websites like Amazon and iHerb. The Culturelle Daily Probiotic takes the number one spot due to its high CFU count and formula.
People often have a knee-jerk reaction when they hear the word “bacteria” and assume it must be bad. However, your body is covered with good bacteria. Good bacteria is present in your gut, creating an environment known as the microbiome. This bacteria takes care of processes like absorbing nutrients from food and strengthening the lining of the gut, as well as fighting off bad bacteria. Probiotics are very similar to the bacteria found in your gut and add to its population.
Anyone can buy a probiotic supplement, even without the consent of a doctor. Despite probiotics being relatively safe, they have not been studied enough for scientists to understand the effects of their long-term use.
Probiotics that are made to treat specific conditions need to be FDA approved and have a more rigid testing process. Most Probiotics on the market—especially general health probiotics—are not tested by the FDA. If you are unsure about this, you can look at the label. It is better to talk to your doctor about taking a probiotic. They will have a better understanding of whether or not you need probiotic supplements and how they might interact with other medication or other underlying conditions.
You should know why you want to try a probiotic supplement. Are you just trying to maintain a healthy gut or trying to cure a specific condition? In either case, it is wise to talk to your healthcare physician, especially since different strains of bacteria and probiotics have different functions.
CFU stands for “colony forming unit.” Companies will list a specific amount of CFUs in their products, which is essentially how much probiotic is inside each capsule or serving. This count will usually be in the billions. Some websites suggest either looking for more than 1 billion or more than 5 billion, but since many supplements (including Culturelle) offer 5-10 billion CFUs, there isn’t much reason to settle for less.
A lot like how many societies give people a first, middle, and last name, probiotics and bacteria also come with three names. These are the genus, species and strain. For instance, most Culturelle probiotics contain a strain called Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG. There are different probiotics that have the same genus and species but have a totally different strain. If you are looking for a specific probiotic or need to cure a specific condition, you need to look at all three names to make sure you are getting the correct product.
A lot of probiotics have labels on them specifying who should take them. People with special diets should always check the labels thoroughly before making a purchase to make sure that specific product accommodates their dietary requirements.
Some probiotics are specifically made for men, women or children. Probiotics might contain specific nutrients that are deemed more beneficial to these demographics. Culturelle’s boxes look very similar, but they color code different products and use large fonts to differentiate between their products.
A. The expiration date will either be stamped in black on the bottom of the box near the “Made in Denmark” labeling or embossed on each capsule card. If you cannot find the expiration date, please contact Culturelle.
A. Prebiotics are not a living microorganism like probiotics. They are plant fibers that stimulate the growth of healthy gut bacteria. Prebiotics are found in different types of food, such as chicory, garlic, bananas and so on.
What you need to know: This is the most popular probiotic made by one of the most trusted brands on the market, and each pill contains 10 billion CFUs.
What you’ll love: The LGG probiotic strain prevents many different intestinal infections. The capsules are GMO-free and vegetarian-friendly. Chicory root is added to incorporate prebiotic into the formula. No refrigeration is required.
What you should consider: Some other probiotics have multiple strains, whereas this product only has one.
What you need to know: This is one of Culturelle’s best-selling products with a general health formula that includes 15 billion CFUs.
What you’ll love: This is a slightly cheaper probiotic with a higher count of LGG CFUs. There is no chicory root in this formula for people who are sensitive to it. This product is vegetarian-friendly and no refrigeration is required.
What you should consider: Some people might get better effects from the Daily Probiotic, which contains chicory root.
What you need to know: Culturelle has made a winning formula specifically for children, and each tablet is chewable.
What you’ll love: The chewable tablets come with a natural berry flavor. There is less than a gram of sugar per tablet, and the probiotic formula is specifically made to boost children's immune and digestive health.
What you should consider: These are made for kids, so adults should look at other products.
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Stephen Morin writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.