January 27, 2014
Here at Natren, we obviously believe that we have the best probiotic on the market! We also believe that everyone should make intelligent decisions about their health, especially knowing exactly what they are putting into their body. So rather than just saying how great we are, here are some of the key things to look for when selecting any probiotic. In our last article, we discussed the state of regulation amongst probiotic suppliers and the importance of verified potency. This time, we’ll take a closer look at some of the key things to look for when selecting any probiotic
Probiotics are live bacteria. So the most important consideration when selecting a useful probiotic is making sure that the beneficial bacteria are actually alive and thriving when they reach you – anything else is just a waste of money.
What to watch for: Check the label – look for a guarantee of potency through the expiration date. This is the number of Colony Forming Units (CFU) that are active when they reach you. Each strain listed must have an accurate CFU count of each species/strain listed on the label and a guarantee of the CFU count that you can expect at the end of shelf life. Companies that do not state potency at the end of shelf life may be in violation of Federal and State laws – do not get ripped off by these sub-standard products. For extra confidence, look for evidence that the potency has been independently verified by a third party such as TGA, or another member of the Pharmaceutical Inspection Convention (PIC) – Natren only submits to testing that has been validated by this international body and its audits show FDA cGMP compliance.
It is an unavoidable fact that heat kills beneficial bacteria that make up probiotics. So next time you visit your local supermarket or pharmacy and see a selection of probiotics sitting on an open shelf, just imagine how much of the bacteria in those bottles is healthy and thriving. Many people see unrefrigerated probiotics as a convenient benefit, and fail to realize it is actually a bet by the manufacturer that if they stuff enough cells in a package, enough of them might not die to make a viable product. Do you really want that product?
What to watch for: If the product is refrigerated when you buy it, that is a very good start – don’t touch anything that is not correctly stored. Also pay attention to delivery – if you are buying from a retail store, make sure it is a reputable reseller that correctly stores the product. If you are ordering your probiotics online, ensure they are delivered quickly, in climate-controlled packaging.
The number of strains in a probiotic can be quite confusing. In our “more is better” society, it is easy to get caught up in a race to go for the highest number of strains – but beware. Many manufactures produce an alphabet-soup of unproven bacterial strains to play the numbers game. The reality is that different types of bacteria do not play nicely together, and with too many strains you will create an environment where all these bacteria end up crowding and fighting each other, and not benefiting your body.
What to watch for: Rather than a large variety of strains whose benefits have not been scientifically proven, it is better to look for higher concentrations of well-researched strains. Look for high concentrations of L. acidophilus, B. bifidum and L. bulgarius. The other advantage of selecting few strains is they can be isolated from each other during manufacturing so they do not fight each other during delivery. The delivery system in the capsule should keep the strains separate for protection from each other, but also protection from the harsh acid in the stomach so the bacteria are alive when they reach the intestine. This is a very important point as virtually every multi-strain product (usually 6 or more) is worthless by the time the consumer buys this product.
We hope you choose Natren as your probiotic, but whatever your choice, please use this guide to choose a great probiotic that it is alive, well, and aids healthy digestion.
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