In recent weeks my attention has come back around to the topic of probiotics. Commonly infant constipation, diarrhea or suspected formula sensitivity is what prompts the conversation and this case was no different. In working with many families over the years I am always surprised at the lack of information given to parents about probiotics for use in the whole family. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that are found in the digestive track naturally and help keep various functions of your body in balance. Commonly people hear probiotics and think yogurt which is true but there is more to it than yogurt.
Probiotics in food products or baby formula are good but should be thought of as a bonus, not your primary source. The amounts are often far too small to make an impact and lose potency during transport (almost all probiotic supplements must be kept refrigerated to maintain potency but there are a few that are shelf stable). I encourage all adults and parents to consider adding a probiotic supplement to your families’ health regime. It helps the immune system and can be a great preventative measure to help your body fight off sickness especially during fall and winter.
A couple of general guidelines when shopping for a quality probiotic are:
1. Multiple strains of bacteria (never purchase a probiotic with less than 4 strains)
2. Check the label to see if it includes a FOS. (Prebiotic)
3. Check that a serving contains at least: 3 billion CFU for infants, 3 billion for children, 5 billion or more for adults
The more strains and the more CFU (colony forming units) per serving the more it will cost but depending on your current health and other factors it may be worthwhile. Expect to pay around $15-30 for most probiotics.
Adult probiotics are usually a capsule you take orally , children’s are generally a chewable or powder, and infants are a powder that dissolves in milk or baby food.
There is a variety of products available and while I am happy to give you suggestions about what I have personally used I do not exclusively endorse any brand. While very few medical doctors will suggest a probiotic I have rarely come across those who are against their use. It is always good to discuss specific health concerns with a qualified health professional if you are unsure.
Please click here to read the article from Parents Magazine and learn more about probiotics.
Please note: The contents of this commentary are that of the author and are meant to be educational. The author does not intend to diagnose, prescribe for or cure any condition.