- The Experts (MD and Dietitian) Advice On Probiotic Supplements
- Quick Summary of The Top Probiotic Supplements
- What Are Probiotics?
- How I Chose My Top Probiotic Supplements
- Do You Need a Probiotic Supplement?
- When to See a Doctor
- How to Choose the Best Probiotic Supplement for You
- Go Wellness’ Picks of the Best Probiotic Supplements
- #1. Primal Harvest Probiotic (Best Overall Probiotic Supplement)
- #2. Ritual Synbiotic+
- #3. Mind Body Green Probiotic
- #4. Gundry MD Bio Complete 3
- #5. Just Thrive Probiotic
- #6. 1st Phorm Probiotic
- #7. HUM Nutrition Gut Instinct
- #8. ZUMA Nutrition Multi-Strain Probiotic Complex
- #9. Mary Ruth’s Complete Gut Health+
- #10. Seed Daily Synbiotic
- The Bottom Line
My passion as a wellness enthusiast has helped me develop a very healthy relationship with food. I live my life by the belief that you are what you eat. The food choices that we make can directly affect things like our immune response, our energy levels and even our mood by way of our gut microbiome. It’s essential to feed the beneficial bacteria that is inside of our gut. This helps to keep bad bacteria in check, so it doesn’t outweigh the good stuff.
In an ideal world, you should have about 90 percent good bacteria in your gut. There are a number of factors that can lower this percentage, like stress, illness (the gut microbiome and immune system do intertwine), a sedentary lifestyle and being overweight. You may be dealing with health issues right now that you don’t realize can be improved by focusing on your gut health. So, you may be wondering how you can go about changing this aspect of your body. I’m going to talk to you about the use of probiotics in this article.
Probiotics are live bacteria and microorganisms, and are a way to increase the good bacteria in your gut, so you are in a better balance. You can source probiotics from foods like yogurt, miso and sauerkraut. It’s pretty hard to get these foods into your diet every single day, which is why I strongly suggest that you utilize a high-quality probiotic supplement along with a healthy diet and regular exercise.
How do you choose the best probiotic that will get the job done? Are probiotics safe and should you even take one?
The Experts (MD and Dietitian) Advice On Probiotic Supplements
I wanted to ask the experts for their advice about probiotic supplements so that you, as the reader, can really benefit from this article. My goal was to provide a little more value than my personal research and experience with gut health supplements. And, when it was all said and done, I think it's safe to say that we all got a lot more value than anticipated!
“Look for a probiotic with the CFU listed, as this describes the potency of the probiotic.
Both the probiotic strain and species should be listed. If only the species is listed, this is a sign of a low-quality probiotic brand.”
Excellent advice in which I wholeheartedly agree with, and now you can look for what Andrea is talking about on the product labels before buying.
I also asked gut health dietitian Jenna Volpe what her opinion is on using probiotic supplements. Here's what she told me:
“While not everyone needs to be taking a probiotic supplement, I've found in my clinical practice that many people have digestive issues related to an overgrowth of bad microbes in the gut, and/or a deficiency in healthy probiotic microbes.
That being said, most people with digestive issues could likely benefit from taking some kind of probiotic supplement in addition to modifying their diet and lifestyle as needed, if they're trying to improve or optimize their gut health and immune function.”
This led me to ask her another question in which I am always curious about when writing supplement review articles or “best of supplements” articles, and that is, can you get what you need in your diet instead of taking a probiotic supplement? Here's what Jenna said:
“In many cases, people can get probiotics from eating live probiotic-rich lacto-fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, raw sauerkraut, or a vinegar-free, unpasteurized version of pickles or kimchi.
However, some individuals with severe dysbiosis (imbalance of gut microbes) may need more support beyond just eating probiotic foods. In these cases, I would usually recommend probiotics unless a person has small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).”
Outstanding advice by these experts that I believe will help you either choose the right probiotic for you, or go the non-supplement route.
Quick Summary of The Top Probiotic Supplements
The best quality probiotic supplements that you’ll come across contain various strains of bacteria in large and stable quantities. You should also be looking for a product that has been manufactured by a reputable company, practices customer transparency and has positive customer reviews for your reading pleasure. Let’s take a look at a breakdown of probiotic supplements and everything that you need to know.
Safety first disclaimer: Remember to always consult with your doctor before adding any supplement into your diet.
|#1. Primal Harvest Probiotic||31 billion CFUs||4.9/5 (239 reviews)||at Primal Harvest|
|#2. Ritual Synbiotic+||11 billion CFUs||4.8/5 (over 100 reviews)||at Ritual|
|#3. mindbodygreen Probiotic||32 billion CFUs||4.9/5 (114 reviews)||at mindbodygreen|
|#4. GundryMD Bio Complete 3||11 billion CFUs||4.8/5 (531 reviews)||at GundryMD|
|#5. Just Thrive Probiotic||3 billion CFUs||4.9/5 (1,018 reviews)||at Just Thrive Health|
Probiotics contain beneficial bacteria that can normally be found in the gut of a healthy individual. Unfortunately, many people are deficient in this beneficial bacterium, resulting in a number of health issues. A probiotic supplement will replace these bacteria by way of different bacterial strains. They can promote bowel regularity, reduce bouts of constipation, eliminate diarrhea, boost your immune system, increase your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and help you feel more energetic throughout the day.
CFU stands for colony forming units, and this is a way of measuring how much of a specific bacterial strain you’re going to be consuming. Keep in mind, this is the number of microbial cells that were present at the time of manufacture. The number may go down by the time you’re taking a supplement, especially if you’re not buying a high-quality product that is shelf stable.
There is some key information that I utilize when trying to determine if a probiotic supplement is worth my time and money. Here’s what I look for, and what I recommend that my clients pay attention to when they’re looking for a probiotic supplement for themselves.
It’s common for brands to make a lot of claims about their products. Advertising an item is a great way of letting people know why they would benefit from your creation, but you only want to buy from a company that makes science-backed claims. It’s optimal that there’s proof in what’s being said.
Think about why you want to start taking probiotics and what you’re trying to accomplish. This can lead you down the path of choosing a product that’s going to work for your symptoms or goals. There are specific strains of bacteria that can help you lose belly fat, regulate your bowel movements, stop constipation, etc. The supplement market has a lot of different probiotics being sold, so you can really find something that’s going to meet your individual needs.
You should be careful about the ingredients that you’re putting into your body. Some supplements can include all kinds of chemical additives, artificial flavors and low-quality bacterial strains. Look into a specific product that you’re thinking about buying, and make sure that company is clear about where they source their ingredients and why certain things are included.
In my expert opinion, the majority of people could benefit from a probiotic supplement in some way. Whether you’re focusing on probiotics for weight loss and bloating, immune function, mental health or digestion, you can really boost your health with a product such as this. It’s beneficial to take a probiotic regularly, and make sure that you’re giving it enough time to take effect. Some supplements will require you to take a daily dose that may require three months to really benefit your body.
Some signs that you may be in need of a probiotic include:
- Persistent bouts of constipation
- Nutritional deficiencies
- GI upset
- Food sensitivities
- Poor immune response
- Gas / bloating
Your desire to start taking a probiotic may be based on specific symptoms that you’ve been experiencing. However, it’s important that you realize certain GI issues should be checked by a doctor to rule out any serious health conditions.
Speaking with Adrea Paul, MD, she said the following about seeing a doctor before taking a probiotic supplement:
“Patients should speak with their doctor before taking a probiotic supplement if they're on any pharmaceutical medications to ensure there is no negative interaction.
Patients should also speak with a doctor before taking a probiotic supplement if it has a very high dose. I'd say for any product with a daily dose above 50 billion colony-forming units (CFU), it would be a good idea to check with a doctor first.”
I also asked Jenna Volpe, RDN, LD, CLT when people should consult with a doctor and this is what she had to say,
“If someone suspects that their gut issues could be related to an underlying cases of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), they're at increased risk of having an adverse reaction to probiotics. Taking probiotics when SIBO is present could lead to unwanted symptoms such as extreme gas, bloating, and even diarrhea.
People with irritable bowel disease (IBD) may want to consult with a doctor and registered dietitian before trying a new probiotic supplement.
People who are pregnant or nursing should consult their OBGYN before starting any new supplement (including probiotics), to be on the safe side.
People who would like more customized advice regarding the type and dose of probiotic may want to consult a functional medicine doctor and/or functional dietitian about comprehensive stool analysis testing. This type of testing gives practitioners more information to work with, so we can recommend a specific probiotic supplement based on what is going on in a person's gut versus just guessing.”
I’ll break that down for you in a bullet list below. You should speak with a doctor before taking probiotics if any of the following applies to you:
- You are taking prescription medication for a diagnosed health condition
- There is blood in your stool
- You have frequent bouts of heartburn that doesn’t go away with over-the-counter treatments
- You have unexplained weight loss
- You have been experiencing extreme fatigue
- Anemia is a common issue for you
How to Choose the Best Probiotic Supplement for You
From my perspective as a wellness enthusiast, here are some tips that I would like to share with you in regard to choosing the best probiotic supplement for your needs.
With so many strains of bacteria to choose from in a probiotic supplement, you might be overwhelmed with not knowing where to start. A comprehensive stool analysis is the most accurate method of determining what your gut health and microbiome looks like, though this isn’t accessible or affordable for everyone. By looking at your symptoms, you can determine what you should start with. Here are some of the most commonly used strains and why they can help you. Keep in mind, there are plenty more that you can read up on.
This bacterial strain can address diarrhea and the beneficial bacteria that is lost during frequent bowel movements.
Beneficial for constipation, Bifidobacterium longum can also be used for irritable bowel syndrome.
Use this strain if you want to build up a healthy intestinal barrier.
It’s not always about saving money, especially when you’re trying to purchase a probiotic supplement. You get what you pay for, so make sure that you’re investing your money into something that is coming from a reputable brand that has a good reputation in the health and wellness industry. You can determine if a brand is reputable if they’re very transparent on their website, if they have a lot of positive reviews on their website and their products can be found both online and in retail stores.
The tricky thing about probiotic supplements is that you’re dealing with live bacterial strains that you generally want to keep alive for optimal benefits. Some products will require you to store your product in the refrigerator. Some will not, but you have to do some reading to ensure that the formulation is going to be stable even out of refrigeration. Certain strains are far more resistant to heat and moisture, while others are inherently delicate.
You’ll find that that majority of probiotic supplements contain anywhere between one and 10 billion CFUs in each dose. Some ultra-potent products can have a count of up to 50 billion colony forming units in each dose. The National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements has communicated that a high CFU count doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to see more benefits. It may have more to do with the strain that you’re using.
I’ve encouraged you to do some research and consider what you’re looking to achieve with the use of a probiotic, but you should look closely at what a company says the intended use of their probiotic is. These companies do a pretty good job of labeling their product with things like GI health, constipation relief, replenishing lost beneficial gut bacteria, etc.
It’s time to take a peek at Go Wellness’ picks for the best probiotic supplement. Their uses may vary a bit, but I’ve tried to take into account products that do a good job at boosting your overall GI health and wellness.
Primal Probiotics from Primal Harvest is a formulation that provides powerful support for your gut health thanks to a unique blend of probiotics and prebiotics. Included is the premium PreforPro prebiotics along with 12 other clinically backed probiotic strains. Primal Harvest has included 31 billion CFUs in this product from strains such as L. acidophilus and L. reuteri. PreforPro prebiotics are also included for the growth of a healthy bacterial colonization inside of your gut.
You get an excellent immune boost from this product, since approximately 70 percent of your immune system exists inside of your gut. This product also offers whole body wellness that can help your brain, heart and skin. This is my favorite probiotic supplement by far. Primal Harvest is a very reputable brand that obviously cares about their customers. They’re honest about what is included in their supplement, as well as why it’s there. Primal Harvest products are produced in a GMP-certified facility and lab testing is used to ensure quality and safety.
- Supports healthy digestion
- Increases your energy levels
- Free of gluten and dairy
- 31 billion CFUs
- Made in a GMP-certified facility
- Includes prebiotics
- Combining prebiotics and probiotics may result in an adjustment period where you need your GI system to get used to this increase in bacteria
You can utilize Ritual Synbiotic+ for exceptional support of your gut and digestive system. In turn, you’ll reap the benefits from a whole-body perspective. People who use this supplement on a regular basis have experienced fewer bouts of bloating, more regular bowel movements, a healthier immune response, increased energy and even a more positive mood and outlook.
Ritual Synbiotic+ contains the probiotic strains LGG and BB-12. They are both extremely helpful for occasional stomach upset. Also included is a postbiotic, which is predominantly used for healing the gut barrier. If you’re someone that deals with leaky gut symptoms, this is an excellent probiotic supplement choice. Ritual has opted for a delayed-release capsule design that won’t dissolve until your supplement hits the portion of your gut where it will help the most.
- This product does not need to be refrigerated
- Delayed release capsule design for an excellent absorption rate
- Contains traceable ingredients
- Promotes a healthy gut microbiome and intestinal lining
- Third-party testing is utilized by Ritual
- Doesn’t contain any of the major allergens
- You may think this is an expensive product, as it’s priced at $50 for one single bottle
Probiotic+ by Mind Body Green is the only probiotic blend in the entire world that includes a combination of four different strains of bacteria that are designed to reduce bloating, aid in digestion and boost the diversity of your gut microbiome. There are 32 billion CFU shelf-stable bacteria included in this product from strains like Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07, Bifidobacterium lactis B420, Bifidobacterium lactis HN019 and Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM.
- Reduces bloat
- Promotes proper digestion
- Increases nutrient absorption
- Helps you maintain a healthy weight
- Contains 32 billion CFUs of bacteria
- A one-time purchase costs $80
- You have to subscribe to regular deliveries in order for this product to be affordable
This versatile probiotic product from Gundry MD is designed to boost your gut health by way of ingredients like Tributyrin, Sunfiber and Bacillus Coagulans. Bio Complete 3 contains a prebiotic, probiotic and postbiotic. CoreBiome contains 30 percent tributyrin and SunFiber along with Bacilus Coagulans rounds out a very diverse supplement. Two capsules should be taken before your biggest meals of the day to promote better digestion, weight management and increased energy. Gundry MD utilizes third party testing for all of their products, so you know that you’re getting the best support possible for your gut.
- Boosts your energy levels naturally
- Reduces food cravings that can lead to weight gain
- Helps you lose belly fat
- Promotes bowel regulation
- Contains a prebiotic, probiotic and postbiotic
- Gundry MD has a number of patented ingredients that they use in their products. I’d like it if the brand was a bit more transparent about them.
This is an award-winning product from Just Thrive that is guaranteed to survive your stomach acid, so it is 100 percent alive once it reaches your gut. It actually has a 1000x better survivability rate than leading probiotics. Included is Bacillus Indicus HU36, which is a rare strain that produces antioxidants when it is absorbed. Just Thrive Probiotic assist with digestion, immune function and whole-body health. Three billion cells are included in this blend.
- Provides digestive and immune support
- Offers a more shelf stable version of a probiotic
- Dairy and gluten free
- Survives stomach acid so it absorbs better than its competitor’s products
- There are a lot of CFUs in this product, but there are only a few different strains included
1st Phorm Probiotic is designed to help you maintain a diverse microbiome, so you benefit from better digestion, more immune support and increased metabolic health. If you’re prone to weight gain (especially around your midsection), this product can help you maintain a healthier weight. It also promotes better nutrient absorption, gas, bloating, regular bowel movements, reduced instances of constipation and you can potentially reduce any food sensitivities that you have. Inside of 1st Phorm Probiotic are eight billion, shelf stable CFUs, including Lactobacillus acidophilus for gut lining repair. Ten strains are included in total. 1st Phorm skips the use of artificial ingredients and additives.
- Improves your metabolism naturally
- Supports the body’s immune response
- Assists with digestive health
- Eight billion CFUs are included in each dose
- Helps heal a damaged gut
- Aids in weight loss
- You may not be able to use this product if you’re taking prescription medication for a diagnosed medical condition
This vegan probiotic from HUM Nutrition contains 10 different strains of probiotics to create a more diverse gut microbiome for overall health and weight loss. It has the ability to repair your gut lining and reduce inflammation. HUM Nutrition Gut Instinct can also boost your immune response and allow your body to better absorb nutrients that come from the food that you eat. Included strains of bacteria are Lactobacillus bacteria, Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus plantarum. Third-party testing is used by HUM Nutrition to ensure safety and purity.
- Supports digestion
- Improves your body’s natural immune response
- Aids in weight loss
- Creates a diverse microbiome
- Free from major allergens
- Promotes more regular bowel movements
- There is a risk of cross contamination for allergens such as tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish and eggs
ZUMA Nutrition Multi-Strain Probiotic Complex addresses a number of GI and gut health issues that many people deal with. This includes constipation, poor nutrient absorption, candida overgrowth, leaky gut and more. By introducing beneficial bacteria into your gut by way of ZUMA’s Multi-Strain Probiotic Complex, you can restore the proper balance of bacteria in your gut microbiome. Beneficial side effects can also include more energy, reduced stress and better mood. Eight different strains are included in this product.
- Contains clinically studied bacteria
- Balances your microbiome
- Aids in digestion
- Shelf stable so there’s no need for refrigeration
- Third-party lab testing utilizes
- ZUMA Nutrition recommends that you pair this product with some of their other gut health supplements. I’m a fan of an all-in-one supplement that gives you everything that you need.
Mary Ruth’s Complete Gut Health+ capsules support all of your GI needs thanks to a pre, pro, and postbiotic. This is an all-in-one supplement that includes a blend of butyrate which is found in Tributyrin. This is a short-chain fatty acid that is produced by microbial fermentation and is beneficial in maintaining the lining of your gut. The prebiotic blend is organic, and there are five different bacterial strains in total. The end result is a very versatile supplement that supports your overall health.
- Includes prebiotic, postbiotic and probiotic
- Vegan supplement
- Fiber based
- Gentle on the stomach
- Boosts immune function
- You have to take two large capsules for each dose
#10. Seed Daily Synbiotic
This two-in-one product from Seed Daily contains 24 different strains of prebiotics and postbiotics combined. The strains that have been chosen can provide a number of health benefits such as better digestive health, improved gut barrier integrity, boosted immune response, better cardiovascular health and even healthier skin. This product from Seed Daily can even help your body absorb nutrients better so you don’t experience deficiencies.
- Contains a probiotic and prebiotic
- An impressive 24 strains are included
- Promotes better systemic health
- Comes with a 30-day risk free guarantee
- Improves digestive health and gut barrier protection
- Because of the large number of prebiotic and probiotic strains in this product, it’s normal to experience a bit of bloating or GI discomfort when you’re getting used to taking it
It’s recommended that you utilize a probiotic product that contains a minimum of one billion CFUs. Popular and effective strains include Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Bacillus or Saccharomyces boulardii.
It’s completely safe to take a probiotic on a daily basis. In fact, it’s encouraged that you regularly take this kind of supplement to maintain a healthy gut microbiome.
What are the signs you need probiotics?
I asked Andrea Paul, MD about the signs to look for and she noted the following:
“Bloating after eating, discomfort after eating, and gastrointestinal issues like constipation or diarrhea can suggest gut dysfunction that may benefit from regular probiotic usage.”
Great advice by Andrea, which I agree with. Here’s a bulleted list of the signs that you may need a probiotic supplement:
- Constipation (frequent bouts)
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Poor immune function
- Low energy levels
Probiotics are something that you can source from food, but you’re really limited with the CFUs that you can consume and the strains that you’re able to expose yourself to. As a wellness enthusiast, I would recommend that you get started with a probiotic if you’re interested in boosting your overall GI health and want to create a more diverse microbiome that supports systemic health. I’ve provided you with a lot of great products, and you can choose something based on what you’re looking to achieve. Some people want to utilize probiotics for weight loss, while others have unpleasant symptoms that they want to get under control.
Ask yourself what you want to accomplish with the use of a probiotic. If you’re looking for a versatile product that really addresses a lot of different aspects of your health, I highly recommend something like Primal Harvest Probiotic. If you’re very concentrated on GI health, Mind Body Green Probiotic is another excellent option. The goal is to ensure you’re picking a product that contains strains that are going to provide the benefits that you’re looking for.