Shopping online can seem daunting, and ordering daily probiotics is no exception. With so many choices, how can you be sure what to order? The following tips should simplify the process and keep you from slipping down a never-ending Internet rabbit hole.

Learn About Probiotics

First, gather some knowledge about what probiotics are and how they work. Keep in mind that probiotics are beneficial live microorganisms whose function is to protect you from pathogens that can upset your system’s healthy balance.

You can find this information online in articles, videos, and medical clinic reports. Another option is simply to ask your doctor/health care provider to explain probiotics to you.

Understand Your Need for Probiotics

Listen to your body. Are you interested in preventing inflammation or illness, or are you experiencing symptoms such as digestive upsets or irregularities? If so, be aware of your symptoms and patterns such as time of day, location of discomfort, food sensitivities, etc.

If you suspect an underlying medical condition, discuss this with your doctor or health care practitioner to ensure you’ll find the best match for your needs. Breath tests and other methods can diagnose or rule out conditions such as celiac disease, lactose intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome, and bacterial overgrowth, and can guide your probiotic choice.

Individuals diagnosed with Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO), for example, should not take products containing “prebiotics,” and those with allergies will need to avoid probiotics that promote histamine production.

Read Product Labels

Determine whether or not the item must be refrigerated. You may prefer the convenience of “shelf stability,” meaning the product does not need refrigeration. Check for a statement on the label or website about the potency and stability of the probiotic. A potency and stability guarantee tells you it should maintain its effectiveness until the expiration date.

Look at Dosages

Consider what dosage (potency or culture count) you need. In general, the recommended culture count for children is 5 to 10 billion per day. For healthy adults, the recommendation is usually 10 to 15 billion.

Low culture counts (5 billion) may be advisable for persons with SIBO, whereas higher counts can be prescribed in certain cases, such as for persons taking antibiotics.

Know Your Strains

Look for a product that contains at least five (and preferably ten) different bacterial strains. Strains starting with the word “Lactobacillus” (the L-word) work best in the small intestine, while those beginning with “Bifidobacterium” (the B-word) are most effective in the large intestine. An easy way to remember this is that L stands for “little” and B stands for “big.”

Research Manufacturers

Identifying reputable manufacturers using search engines can be tricky. For example, if you type in “ionic zinc online,” you’ll see over nine million results! Try narrowing your search for probiotic manufacturers by adding terms like “USDA Certified Organic,” “non-GMO,” and “vegan.” Read independent reviews and check for third-party testing.

Armed with the above tips, you should have no problem choosing the best probiotic for you and your family.

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