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Best Probiotics

Updated October 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 42 Models Considered
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    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best probiotics

    Last Updated October 2018

    The human body houses trillions of bacteria that work to keep it functioning at an optimal level. Probiotics are wellness supplements that introduce additional good bacteria to your system. These supplements are claimed to provide a multitude of health benefits, from clearing your skin to losing weight to improving brain function.

    Most good bacteria live in the intestines. In fact, this is where the bulk of your immune system is housed. At times, the good bacteria in your digestive tract can become depleted, opening the door for bad bacteria to come in and take over. By introducing a probiotic supplement, you can help replenish the good bacteria to keep your body functioning the way it should.

    Different strains of probiotics do different things, but none of them will do you any good unless the bacteria cultures are live and unexpired. Potency is another issue you should pay attention to. If you’d like some help sorting out the different probiotics available today, read on for more information.

    Probiotics help produce enzymes that your body needs to break down and absorb foods efficiently.

    Common probiotic strains

    Most probiotic supplements don’t come with a single strain of bacteria. In fact, there may be seven or more strains in one supplement. This diversity is a good thing because each type of bacteria helps your body in a different way. Here are some of the most common types of bacteria you can expect to find in a probiotic supplement.

    Bifidobacterium bifidum

    B. bifidum is another popular immune-boosting bacteria. Its effects are similar to L. acidophilus: it can help optimize digestion and may even protect against certain intestinal pathogens. Some studies suggest that B. bifidum helps improve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

    Lactobacillus rhamnosus

    L. rhamnosus is a favorite among travelers because it may help prevent traveler’s diarrhea. It also shows promise in soothing chronic skin conditions like eczema.

    Probiotics occur naturally in fermented foods like kimchi and yogurt. However, most people do not consume these foods on a regular basis. Even if you do, you may not be getting as much as you need – particularly if you just finished a round of antibiotics.

    Lactobacillus acidophilus

    Perhaps the most common type of probiotic, L. acidophilus is a hardy bacteria that can help boost your immune system. It also helps with the digestion and absorption of foods. Many people who are lactose intolerant report improved digestion of dairy products when they introduce L. acidophilus into their diets.

    Bifidobacterium longum

    B. longum can help inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria in the digestive tract. It may also promote regularity, so if you suffer from constipation, you may wish to consider it. Some studies also suggest that it can help improve brain function by decreasing cortisol levels and improving memory.

    Keep your digestive tract healthy

    The Align Daily Probiotic Supplement contains one billion CFUs of Bifido infantis, a relatively unusual probiotic strain that can help support optimal digestion when taken daily. It’s the number-one recommended probiotic supplement by gastroenterologists.

    What to look for on the label

    Live cultures

    It’s important to make sure that the bacteria in the probiotic you choose are alive. Otherwise, the supplement won’t do you any good. Check the label for a phrase like “Live bacteria viable through end of shelf life.” This means that the bacteria are alive and, provided they are stored properly, will remain so through the expiration date listed on the product.

    Expiration date

    Most probiotics are designed to be taken once per day. Verify the number of pills in one bottle to make sure the expiration date is at least that far out. Otherwise, you’ll be paying for a product that you won’t be able to use.

    Number and type of strains

    The best probiotics include multiple strains of good bacteria. Examine the nutrition label to see how many strains and which types are included. Are these the strains you need for your particular health concerns?

    FOR YOUR SAFETY

    If a probiotic is meant to be stored in the refrigerator, it’s crucial that you don’t leave it out on the counter for too long. Doing so could cause the bacteria to die more quickly, effectively rendering the pill useless.

    Potency

    To determine potency, look at the total colony-forming units (CFUs) in your probiotic. As a general rule, a basic probiotic should have a minimum of 1 billion CFUs per pill and you can go as high as 10 billion CFUs per pill. There’s no need to go higher than this for everyday use, but if you have a special circumstance, such as being on antibiotics, you may want to look for a probiotic that has as much as 50 billion CFUs per pill.

    Storage information

    Most probiotics should be stored in the refrigerator, but there are some that can be safely stored at room temperature. One of these will be a better fit for you if you’re going to be traveling and don’t have access to a fridge or cooler. Be sure to find out the recommended storage method (refrigerated/not refrigerated) before you buy.

    Third-party certification

    Though not crucial, a third-party certification can help you feel confident that the probiotic you’re choosing will live up to the potency listed on the label. Not all probiotic manufacturers go through the certification process because it is expensive, but if you’re particular about which supplements you take, it’s best to look for one that is either USP verified or NSF certified for purity and potency.

    EXPERT TIP

    The bacteria in your probiotic aren’t likely to survive past the expiration date on the bottle. Don’t assume that they will; instead, buy a bottle with a pill count and expiration date that suit your needs.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    When it comes to choosing a probiotic that fits your budget, it’s more important to look at the cost per pill than the overall cost. It might be worth paying $50 for a larger bottle if you get more pills.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    If you come across a probiotic strain you’re unfamiliar with, research it first. Does it help with your particular concerns? Are there any research studies that back up these claims?


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    Take your probiotic on an empty stomach. This is important because when your stomach acid level is lower, the bacteria have a better chance of surviving all the way to your intestines – and that’s where they do the most work.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Probiotic prices

    Probiotics range in price from approximately $0.20 to $0.85 per pill.

    Cost depends somewhat on potency and the number of strains included, but a higher per-pill cost isn’t always indicative of better quality.

    Some probiotics cost $0.80 per pill for a single strain of bacteria while others have five or more strains and cost around $0.25 per pill. In short, you should always consider the price of a probiotic in conjunction with its ingredient list.

    Everything you need to optimize digestion

    The Zenwise Digestive Enzymes Plus Prebiotics & Probiotics includes one billion CFUs of multiple probiotics along with prebiotics, which can also help build up your body’s healthy bacteria supply. In addition, it includes 10 different digestive enzymes to help your body more easily break down and absorb foods. It’s a great choice for those who suffer from bloating or digestive issues.

    Tips

    • Don’t wash down your probiotics with chlorinated water. Chlorine kills bacteria and may impact the effectiveness of your probiotic.

    • Take your probiotic on an empty stomach, preferably when you first wake up in the morning or before a meal.

    • If you have a weakened immune system or a severe health condition, talk to your doctor before adding a probiotic to your daily diet.

    • If your probiotic doesn’t require refrigeration, keep it in a cool, dark place where it won’t be exposed to a lot of sunlight or heat.

    It’s a good idea to take a probiotic while you are taking antibiotics and even for several weeks afterward to help your body replenish its supply of good bacteria.

    FAQ

    Q. Is it safe to take probiotics while you’re pregnant?

    A. Studies suggest that taking probiotics may help boost your baby’s immune system. But as with anything, it’s best to consult with your doctor before adding a probiotic supplement to your health regimen.

    Q. Do probiotics have side effects?

    A. Most of the time, they do not but it is possible. You may experience mild constipation, bloating, or diarrhea when you first begin taking probiotics. This is usually temporary.

    Q. What are the best probiotic strains to take while on antibiotics?

    A. Antibiotics wipe out much of the bacteria in your body without discriminating between good and bad. While this can help get rid of bacterial illnesses, it can also deplete your immune system, which may take a while to recover. Probiotics, particularly those strains that are known for boosting immunity, can help speed up this process. It’s a good idea to start taking probiotics with your antibiotics and continue taking them for about a month afterward to ensure that your good bacteria returns to a healthy level.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Kailey
      Kailey
      Writer
    • Katie
      Katie
      Editorial Director
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor

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