Choosing the right probiotic: Is more always better?

If you’re looking for the ideal probiotic dietary supplement for yourself or your patients, you’ve probably noticed the broad array of brands and ingredients available, in forms that include capsules, powders and liquids. Trying to make direct comparisons between them can be confusing unless you know what to look for. Let’s examine some key factors that can help you make a more informed choice.

Colony Forming Units—Is More Always Better?

The microbiome of the human gut is a complex ecosystem. It relies on a balance between “good” and “bad” bacteria to function optimally. Probiotics (the “good” bacteria) help combat invasive (“bad”) microorganisms and support a healthy immune system. They also assist in the processing of nutrients, and serve as gatekeepers at the cellular level. This governs which molecules may (and may not) permeate the cell membranes.

Probiotic supplements are actually colonies of living organisms that are measured in Colony-Forming Units (CFUs). Manufacturers are required to list the number of CFUs per dose on their product label. This can serve as a point of comparison between brands. So the higher the CFUs the better the product, right? Not exactly. It is simply not true that more CFUs is better.

First, the number of CFUs listed on the label only reflects the number of living probiotic bacteria placed within the product at the time of manufacture. But probiotics are living organisms. They can much better confer their health benefits to you if they are alive and healthy when they reach your gut. Say, for example, that you ordered tropical fish for your aquarium, but by the time they arrived, nearly all had perished in transit. That’s often what happens to probiotics that are packed without the proper safeguards to ensure their survival.

So a product that may boast 1 billion CFUs may in fact deliver only a tiny fraction of that number alive. The ability to keep the CFUs alive is key to their effectiveness. A probiotic’s delivery mechanism and its ability to stay cool until consumed are critical.

(Spoiler alert: Probulin’s patented MAKTrek 3-D delivery system and “Cool and Protected / Shipped on Ice” shipping literally deliver the goods.)

So what other factors go into producing a superior probiotic product?

Robust Probiotic Strains—Only the Strong Survive

All probiotic bacterial strains are not created equal. Some are hardier than others, and thus are capable of withstanding more environmental challenges while in transit. Rapid changes in temperature (especially sustained heat) are lethal to most antibiotic strains. The more robust the strain, however, the more likely that a beneficial number of CFUs will survive the journey from the manufacturer to you.

Prebiotics—Food for Life

Like all living organisms, probiotics need food to survive. Prebiotics are compounds that probiotic bacteria “eat” while in transit. Products that include prebiotics, like inulin, are more likely to provide you with living, healthy, and effective probiotic colonies.

Storage and Shipping Methods—Keeping Your Chill

Because probiotic bacteria are so sensitive to changes in their environment—particularly sudden or sustained warmth—their survival while in transit depends to a large degree on the shipping method used by the manufacturer.

You’ve probably noticed, for example, that the labeling on some probiotic products recommends that they be refrigerated during storage. But were they refrigerated during shipping or while they awaited shipment in a warehouse?

Probiotics shipped Cool and Protected have a far greater chance not only of surviving their journey to you, but also of being healthy enough to confer their health benefits when consumed.

Surviving the Journey Once Consumed

Surviving exposure to stomach acid and bile as well as other challenges make it difficult for probiotic supplements to provide the best benefit. Because we know this is the case, we developed the MAKTrek® 3-D probiotic delivery system, implementing a 3-step protection system to help these probiotic bacteria survive. This scientifically studied system makes sure to protect the beneficial probiotic bacteria as well as make sure they are also fed and hydrated properly. The research suggests that this system will help to ensure better survival of the probiotics.

Why Probulin Excels

At Probulin, we understand the importance of delivering the most effective probiotic products to our customers. That’s why we safeguard our products by using:

  • The correct CFU’s (between 10 to 20 Billion CFU is all that is truly needed)
  • Only the most robust probiotic strains
  • Prebiotics, Like Inulin, that nourish our probiotics during transit and storage, and
  • Advanced Cool and Protected packaging that minimizes temperature-related attrition.

Lastly, we deploy the scientifically studied MAKTrek® 3-D Probiotic Delivery System that helps to ensure that more surviving probiotic bacteria gets delivered to the digestive system.


For more info on products mentioned in this article or for info on current product specials, please contact your personal MeyerDC Account Manager.

If you don’t know who your Account Manager is, please call 800-472-4221 to find out.

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