Probiotic supplements available over the counter are many and varied. Unfortunately not all probiotics are created equal, because standards of quality control are not necessarily the same between manufacturers of different probiotic products. This means there are products available to you that could be considered sub-standard, i.e. the quantity or types of organisms listed may not actually be present in the supplement, and most concerning of all, the bacteria may not actually be alive.
One option is to consult with a naturopathic doctor or someone who has clinical experience using different products and can tell you which ones actually produce the best results.
Another option is to be a selective consumer and ask question before you buy. If you are in a supplement store, ask the person who orders in the products. If he/she does not know, then contact the supplement company directly. What sort of quality control do they use? Do they batch test their products? Do they have third party testing? This means that someone from an outside source comes to verify that a product contains what its label says. What is the product’s actual shelf life? Is there any guarantee those bacteria will still be alive when you are taking the supplement?
For the most part, buying a lesser-quality probiotic will not harm you. However, you could be wasting your money. Be proactive. Make sure you are getting your money’s worth and the health benefits you are seeking.
Dr. Juliet Ghodsian, ND, is a naturopathic family physician practicing at Sage Clinic in Vancouver, B.C. From a very young age, Dr. Ghodsian has had a passion for helping others. After her undergraduate degree, she completed the four year naturopathic medical degree program at Bastyr University, and two years of clinical training at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health. During her medical training she pursued certification in Craniosacral Therapy Level I, II and III. She continued on to receive advanced training (approx. 100 hours) as a preceptor with three different doctors who specialize in Craniosacral Therapy and Visceral Manipulation. She has trained with both the Integrative Body Work Institute and the Upledger Institute. She continues to expand her skill set in this area, with continuing education studies. To learn more, visit www.drghodsian.com.