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By Quinn Akira Takei, Doctor of Oriental Medicine (NM), Licensed Acupuncturist, Chinese Herbalist, and Holistic Health Coach

Probiotics are one of the most important supplement take.  At the same time, probiotics are often the biggest waste of money!  This article will explain why probiotics are so important and tips to prevent you from wasting your money on probiotics that won’t work.  I will also examine one of the most popular probiotics on the market today and show why you are being ripped off.

Why are probiotics so important?  

Probiotics are the healthy bacteria in the digestive system which plays a key role in the digestive process and maintaining the integrity of the intestines.  But this is really just the beginning.   It is believed that 80% of all immune function stems from the digestive system.  A healthy balance of bacteria in the digestive system is essential to have a properly functioning immune system.

There are many factors in our modern world that can destroy this delicate balance of healthy bacteria within your body.  Some of these factors include antibiotics, pharmaceuticals, city water, pesticides, and other chemicals we come in contact with every day.  For these reasons, supplementing with probiotics may be necessary to ensure a healthy balance of bacteria required for digestive health and immunity.

Be careful what you buy!  Don’t buy dead bacteria.

Most probiotics on the marked are worthless. Probiotics are living bacteria.  Any product you take must guarantee the bacteria cultures are still alive.  Most products cannot make this guarantee.  In the fine print, often probiotics manufactures will state the quantity of bacteria their product had when it was manufactured.   How much bacteria the product had when it was made is irrelevant.  What is important is the amount of bacteria the product has when you take it.  If the proper steps are not taken in the creation, shipment, storage, and selling of the product, chances are good by the time you take the bacteria has died. 

Be careful what you buy!  Don’t buy a weak product.

Assuming the bacteria in the product is alive, it is also critical to take enough bacteria to have therapeutic results.  I have seen probiotics on the market containing between 75,000 to 170 billion live cells.  That is a huge difference!  In my clinic, I usually suggest that the average healthy individual take at least 8-10 billion live cells per day.  Individuals with digestive disorders will begin taking anywhere from 50-150 billion live cells per day.  Most probiotics on the market are simply not strong enough to achieve the therapeutic results you may need.

There are many other factors that can significantly influence the quality of a probiotics such as the number of and types of strains of the bacteria, as well as how the strains are cultured. 

Do companies really sell weak or dead probiotics?  

You bet!  In fact that is most of them and this is why some probiotics are a waste of your money!

For example, a client told me they were already taking a probiotic they got from the store, but didn’t feel it was really helping her.  I requested she bring in what she was taking so I could take a closer look at it.   The next time I saw her, she did as requested.  The product she had was one of the most advertised probiotics brands.  In fact, this particular brand markets their product as the “The #1 Gastroenterologist Recommended Probiotic.”  The front of the box has all kinds of great claims about the benefits of probiotics and healthy bacteria.  I fully agree with these claims… but just how much bacteria is in this specific product?  When I flip the box, I see in teeny tiny writing (the smallest writing on the entire box) the following statement:

“Contains one billion bacteria when manufactured, and provides an effective level of bacteria until at least the “best by” date.”

So let’s analyze this statement.  This product had only one billion when manufactured. In my opinion, one billion is not nearly enough bacteria to have the therapeutic benefits most individuals require.  As stated earlier, I usually request healthy people take at least ten times this amount, and fifty times the amount for those with digestive disorders.  More importantly, the box states the amount of bacteria when manufactured.  Why don’t the makers of this product claim their probiotic contains one billion until the “best by” date?   Because the company knows it doesn’t.  If they could guarantee it, they would.

However, the company does state their product “provides an effective level of bacteria until at least the “best by” date.”  Great!  It provides and effective level!  But wait… effective for what?!?  Effective to help reduce my digestive disorders?  Effective to make me a celebrity?  Effective to wash my car?  Effective for what?   Effective to be vague and mislead the public into buying their product?

I was not surprised when my client’s symptoms improved once she stopped taking this, “#1 Gastroenterologist Recommended Probiotic” and started taking one that actually guaranteed the potency of the product beyond the manufacturing date

In Summary

It is my opinion, probiotics are one of the most important supplements to take.  Probiotics are living bacteria cultures that must be manufactured, shipped, sold, and stored properly to prevent their decay.  Don’t waste your money on products from manufactures who do not guarantee the potency of their product beyond the date they are manufactured.  Don’t waste your money on weak products regardless of how great the packaging seems.  Don’t assume that just because you buy a product from a reputable store that the product is a good one.  Save your self money by carefully reading the labels and know what you are buying.

Quality Probiotics Are Available.

I have done a great deal of research in selecting the best, safest, and most effective nutritional supplements and probiotics.  My clinic, The Center: Natural Health Specialists carries a wide variety of probiotics ranging from 1.5 billion to 150 billion live cultures per serving specifically designed for infants, children and adults.

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