Choosing a quality probiotic

With the school season quickly approaching we also see an increase in the cold virus. Prevention is key and a probiotic is a great starting point for some additional immune support. It is important to understand that not all probiotics are created equal. I have found that most people choose a probiotic based on a mega dose, price or whatever is available. 

There are a lot of factors that go into picking out a quality probiotic. Below are some things to look for when choosing a high-quality probiotic:

  • Look for specific probiotics that have clinical research.

  • Look for a strain code next to the name and look for research supporting your health concern.

  • Look for human strains. These tend to have more research for specific conditions.

  • Look for strains that are not killed by your stomach acid. Mode of delivery (capsules, fortified yogurt, powder) is not as important if you have acid resistant strains of probiotics.

  • The CFU level should be guaranteed up to the date of expiration

In a study published in the journal Pediatrics (2009), Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM was found to reduce incidences of fever, runny nose and duration of colds in children. Kids that took this probiotic along with Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07 had even better results! Antibiotic use was decreased with this combination. 

Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG is another specific strain of bacteria showing promise for immune support. In another article published by Pediatrics (2010) this strain was found to reduce incidences of gut and respiratory infections at a pediatric hospital. 

As we learn more about the microbiome and its role in health outside the gut we will see specific strains of probiotics being used for a variety of other health concerns in the near future. Although probiotics have a very good safety profile it is important to check with a health provider and focus on prevention by supporting overall health. 

By Dr. Nathan Jeffery, ND, BSc.


Probiotic Effects on Cold and Influenza-Like Symptom Incidence and Duration in Children Gregory J. Leyer, Shuguang Li, Mohamed E. Mubasher, Cheryl Reifer, Arthur C. Ouwehand. Pediatrics Aug 2009, 124 (2) e172-e179; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2008-2666

Lactobacillus GG in the Prevention of Nosocomial Gastrointestinal and Respiratory Tract Infections Iva Hojsak, Slaven Abdović, Hania Szajewska, Milan Milošević, Željko Krznarić, Sanja Kolaček. Pediatrics May 2010, 125 (5) e1171-e1177; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2009-2568