NEW VERSION: Are All Probiotics the Same?
There are many probiotic supplements and foods available to consumers today.
But it’s important to keep in mind that not all probiotic products are the same.
Different products contain different probiotic microbes, which have specific characteristics and
One key way probiotics differ from each other is that their outsides are different. This prompts
distinct responses from our digestive and immune systems.
Scientists classify probiotics the same way they classify all living things, by genus and species.
For example, your dog’s genus is Canis and its species is Lupis.
Two common probiotic microbes are Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium lactis.
Probiotics are further defined by their strain.
Just like distinct breeds of dogs can be very different from one another, distinct strains of the same
genus and species of a probiotic can differ in significant ways.
If a specific strain of a probiotic supports your immune system, that doesn’t necessarily mean that
another strain of probiotic would have the same effect.
Another difference among probiotic products is how much evidence exists for the benefits they
Some probiotics are backed by several good quality studies.
While for others, little is known.
Scientists are still working to figure out exactly how different probiotics work.
The best recommendation is to choose a product that has been tested for the particular benefit
you are looking for.
You can find information on the evidence of health benefits at ISAPPscience.org.
Probiotic products may also differ by the number of strains in the product or by the amount of
probiotic delivered, as indicated by colony forming units or CFU.
This is a measure of how many live probiotics are in a product. Typically, probiotic products deliver
between 100 million and 50 billion or more CFU per dose.
Not all probiotics require the same dosage to be effective.
A product with a larger dose does not mean that it will be more effective.
And a product with lots of strains isn’t necessarily better than a product with fewer strains.
The level in the product should match the level shown in studies to provide a health benefit.
It’s important for you to evaluate the differences between probiotics and make an educated
decision on which product will work best for you.
Ask your healthcare provider for probiotic recommendations based on your specific health needs.
Please refer to ISAPPscience.org for additional information, or ask your doctor or healthcare provider.