Your digestive system may need extra attention if you are not eating a diverse range of foods, use antibiotics, lack regular exercise, or undergo daily stress. While there are published research articles on the health benefits of using probiotics, information on the exact dosage can be challenging to determine. (1)*
A wide range of these dietary supplements are on the market at different doses. Knowing how many probiotics to take to support a healthy gut microbiome and digestive system is vital to finding the right balance for your overall wellness.*
In this article, we discuss the ideal dose of probiotics, how often you should take them, why timing matters, and how long probiotics work.*
How Often Should You Take Probiotics?
Everyone has a personalized reason to supplement probiotics. Whether you suffer from a digestive condition, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or experience frequent urinary tract infections, beneficial bacteria support regularity and digestive comfort in these conditions.*
Usage of probiotic supplements can depend on the type of support you are looking for. You may not know that bacterial imbalance can lead to sugar cravings, immune disruption, lactose intolerance, and even skin conditions.*
What can probiotics support?*
- Digestive comfort in the presence of occasional constipation, diarrhea, or indigestion*
- Bowel regularity*
- Respiratory health*
- Immune function*
- Nutrient absorption*
- Bacterial balance disrupted by antibiotics*
- Healthy gut environment*
- Weight management^*
Considering there are so many probiotic options, how do you know which to take and what dosage? First, you have to understand CFUs and strains of probiotics.
Choosing the Ideal CFU
Probiotics are measured in CFUs (Colony Forming Units) per supplemental serving. CFU refers to the number of cells that can multiply to form a colony. In terms of CFU, more is not always better.
A high CFU count does not necessarily mean the probiotic supplement is effective. Instead, your focus should be on whether the probiotic strain in the formula is backed by science.
For example, while there are more than 3,000 identified types of probiotics, two of the most popular - and thoroughly researched - are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains. Published studies reveal that these two probiotics help restore the balance of good bacteria in your gut. (2)*
These factors should be taken into account when deciding on your probiotic:
- Digestive system tolerance
- Sensitivity to supplements
- Which prebiotics are included
- Probiotic strains included
Age and diet play a big part in the daily dose of probiotic CFUs you would take. For example, infants and toddlers have a less developed and diverse gut, so naturally, they require fewer colony units.
Some adults may also need a lower CFU concentration, such as those with digestive inflammation, immune system conditions, and other health conditions that may make them sensitive to probiotic supplements.
However, higher doses may be beneficial for adults who are generally healthy, need short-term digestive support, or are directed by a healthcare provider to take probiotics while on antibiotics.*
Although it is unlikely, it is possible to experience probiotic side effects, so you should speak to your doctor, dietitian, or healthcare professional before starting a probiotic.
The Probiotic Partner: Prebiotics
When considering probiotics, it’s crucial to remember their partner, prebiotics. Prebiotics allow probiotics to flourish, supporting their effectiveness. They may also help anyone with an extra-sensitive gut.*
Often, probiotics and prebiotics are included in the same supplement. Prebiotics can be found as tablets, prebiotic powder to sprinkle over food, and in capsule or chewable form.
Natural Sources Of Probiotics
Probiotics can be found naturally in some foods and drinks. Fermented foods like yogurt (especially those supplemented with additional probiotics) contain good bacteria. Probiotics can also be found in kombucha (fermented tea), kefir (a fermented dairy drink), sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso soup.
Most people do not consume enough probiotic foods to reap all the benefits. When your probiotic products fall short, that’s when supplements can help.*
Probiotic supplements must journey from your mouth to your digestive tract to support your digestive health. During this process, many live microorganisms die, making them less available in the areas where it is needed most.*
That’s why many probiotic strains are freeze-dried and packaged into individual capsules or tablets. This helps protect the live cultures (live microbes) in their journey to your gut and retain their potency and stability.
Probiotics are designed to bypass stomach acids, reach deep into the intestinal tract alive, and be more readily absorbed. Hyperbiotics’ Bio-tract technology accomplishes this by delivering 15 times more probiotics than standard veggie capsules.‡
The reality is that not all probiotics are created equal. To be effective, these live organisms must be manufactured under strict conditions to maintain their lifespan and integrity.
When choosing your probiotic, always ensure that you choose a reputable brand and product that guarantees the level of CFUs listed on the label. Maximize your use of probiotics by taking them before the expiration date, as the cultures generally won’t live past it.
Does Timing Matter?
Some labels recommend taking probiotics with food, and some say to take the supplements on an empty stomach. So when is the best time to take probiotics?
The two most common strains, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, are best taken up to 30 minutes before a meal. (1) If you take probiotics with food, remember that the heavier the meal, the longer it will take to absorb the probiotics.
Taking them consistently and regularly is more important than when you take them.
How Long Does It Take For Probiotics To Work?
Probiotic effectiveness is based on the strain, dosage, and your targeted concern.
Time is needed to support the good probiotic bacteria and help them flourish, achieve bacterial balance, and support healthy inflammatory responses that might have been affected by harmful bacteria.*
Side Effects of Probiotics
The good news is that probiotics are generally safe in healthy individuals. However, those with immune-depleting conditions should contact a healthcare provider before taking supplements.
Side effects may present if you take too many probiotics. Some people will experience occasional gas and bloating for the first few days. You can try taking probiotic supplements at night or gradually increasing the dosage over a couple of weeks to introduce the beneficial bacteria to the body.
You can learn more about potential probiotic side effects here.
In most scenarios regarding probiotics, less is more. A higher CFU count does not necessarily support optimal health. Doubling up on probiotics may sound like a good idea, but it’s not.*
Everyone's digestive system, diet, and health conditions differ. That being said, different strains react differently in the body. This is why how many probiotics we need daily differs for each of us.
Finding a company based on science and integrity is not easy. Choose a supplement supplier that meets and exceeds the FDA requirements and GMP standards to ensure you get the quality you deserve and expect.
At Hyperbiotics, you can feel confident that you are purchasing high-quality, viable probiotic supplements at an affordable price that supports your intestine and gut health.*
- Benef Microbes. 2011; 2(4):295-303 [PMID: 22146689]
- National Institutes of Health (NIH). 2022
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
^Provides weight management support as part of a healthy lifestyle with a reduced-calorie diet and regular exercise.
‡BIO-tract® vs. instant release formulations under in vitro test conditions