January 20, 2014
The word “Probiotic” is used to describe a large number of different foods, supplements and drinks. As a consumer, it can be difficult to get to grips with these products, how effective they are, and which ones offer value for money and deliver on their promises.
Probiotics are classified as Dietary Supplements by the FDA, and not as Drugs. This different level of regulation means that specific claims to treat or cure illnesses cannot be made. Instead, we see many probiotic brands escalating their marketing campaigns with claims of large numbers of (largely unverified) strains, trying to make their product sound bigger and more impressive than their competition. This practice has got so out of control that the EU has actually banned the use of the word “Probiotic” as an ingredient health claim, since it was causing too much confusion and implied health benefits.
Advertising an impressively large number of strains may sound great on a product label, but the science behind it is flawed. In the world of probiotics, more strains are not necessarily better, and in fact can lead to a worse product since as many of these strains are of little proven use to the body, and different strains of bacteria will fight each other when stored together, leading to a largely “dead” product when it reaches the consumer. In fact, a recent report by ConsumerLab found that 5 of the 41 products tested contained less than 56% of the advertised viable cells listed on the label!
So if more strains do not make a good probiotic, what does? At Natren, we believe that verified potency of proven probiotic strains is the answer. Verification is key. There are no mandated regulations forcing a standard for verification, so Natren has put in place a testing program that is compliant with standards set by the Pharmaceutical Inspection Convention (PIC) and audited the TGA – an international government agency which ensures compliance with the FDAs Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP). In addition, Health Canada randomly tests Natren probiotics for potency verification. This extensive verification procedure, alongside our refrigerated express shipping & packaging, is why we have the confidence to guarantee that our products contain 100% of their potency through the expiration date. In other words, with Natren, you know you are getting the product that you have paid for, fully effective, using strains of bacteria that researchers have validated as beneficial.
For more details on the science behind potency and multi-strain probiotics, please check out our white paper on the subject. In part 2 of our buyers guide, we will discuss some of the key things to look for when choosing between different probiotics.
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