1. The old adage “you get what you pay for” is no different when shopping for probiotics. The effectiveness of a probiotic depends on a) strain, b) method of preparation, c) type of packaging.

2. Consumer reports studies have clearly shown that the amount of probiotics claimed by manufacturers can be far less when tested. For one such review 4 of 14 pill products tested had no more than half of their claimed number of probiotics on average.

3. Look for companies that sell probiotics in dark amber bottles to ensure the best moisture barrier by blocking damaging light exposure to moisture rapidly destroys potency.

4. Probiotic bacteria grown and maintained in a culture medium know as supernatant* are typically more effective as this process provides a longer potent shelf life. This is called the “full culture method”.

5. Products that have been processed using centrifugation or ultra filtration (the easiest and least expensive form of processing) remove invaluable supernatant resulting in an inferior product.

6. Look for the full culture production method. Here the entire bacterial mass and the supernatant are freeze-dried and packaged resulting in the best quality product.

7. The best way to capture the living colonies of beneficial bacteria and supernatant and sustain them for a pre-determined length of time is through a freeze-drying process called lyophilizing. This is a lightning-fast biochemical process that dries the bacteria by freezing it within a vacuum removing all the water while preserving the supernatant. Although considerably more expensive to freeze dry the bacteria and supernatant together it is the best way to guarantee the maximal health benefits from the friendly bacteria when they arrive in the gastrointestinal tract.

8. Look for the NNFA probiotic labeling standard (Natural Nutritional Foods Association) adopted since 1989. This requires that probiotic supplement labels list the quantity and identify of the living bacteria present, a viable cell count, an expiration date, certification or the absence of pathogenics (bad bacteria), storage requirements and a list of any additional ingredients.

9. Look for the right strain or strains of probiotic bacteria. Always choose the most powerful strains of each species. Determining this can be daunting. The best strains however have studies that demonstrate their ability to:

a) Inhibit the widest number of pathogens (bad bacteria).

b) Adhere to the colon wall.

c) Inhibit yeast infections.

d) Produce certain acids that destroy harmful bacteria living in our GI tract.

e) Inhibit the transformation of nitrates in our food to nitrates.

f) Produce B-complex vitamins.

g) Suppress chemicals in our body that cause inflammation in our intestine.

h) Aid in the absorption of Vit C.

i) Help to decrease cholesterol.

(See strains listed on “Best of Breed” Chart)

10) The best nutraceutical companies producing the highest quality probiotics have proof of each strains characteristics – evaluated by third party independent laboratory analysis and should be available to the consumer at their request.

11) A daily dose of at least 1-billion CFU’s (colony Forming units) is needed to reap meaningful benefits. The higher quality products offer 5-billion to 20-billion CFU of each of the various strains per capsule. When multiple strains are in 1 capsule. An oil matrix carrier is the best choice.

12) In quality probiotics it’s truly “the more the merrier”.

13) A quality probiotic usually will require Refrigeration.

*supernatant: when probiotic bacteria grow in milk (the preferred culturing agent) as they grown they transform the milk into the supernatant.

* Acknowledgement: Natasha Trenev and her book The Power of Probiotics provided were a valuable resource of information for this page.