What Are the Best Rated Probiotics Available in Stores?
By Christopher Walker
When it comes to product comparisons, we don’t like to say definitively that one product is better than another; probiotics are no exception. When we compare probiotics, we don’t compare products from different brands. Rather, we analyze best rated probiotics according to their specific strains, CFU and their recommended use. Let’s have a look at some of the parameters that — in our opinion — define a high-quality product.
How to Choose a Probiotic: It Comes Down to the Strains
Instead of judging a product based on brand, we suggest giving far more attention to the strain. You will have to carefully read the label for this. We recommend seeing our previous post where we identify the different types of probiotic strains and their respective uses. Even this list, though, is grossly incomplete; some estimates suggest as many as 500 probiotic strains. Some of the better-documented strains include Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, both of which have their separate class of sub-strains.
Ultimately, we can’t compare probiotics and say that one is inherently more beneficial than another. For starters, many of the strains have overlapping functions. Even so, some strains may have more studies behind them for treating a specific ailment.
The Best Rated Probiotics for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Let’s start with indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which is why most people begin taking a probiotic tab in the first place. See our post on the best probiotics for IBS, where we identify the best strains for treating IBS symptoms, including gas, bloating, constipation and rough stools.
Essentially, the top probiotics in this instance come down to these Lactobacillus strains: L. reuteri, L. acidophilus, L. plantarum and L. rhamnosus. It also includes the Bifidobacterium strain B. animalis.
Are these the only strains for IBS? Not by any means, but these have the most studies behind them for the treatment of indigestion. The best rated probiotics for IBS, therefore, should have two or three if not all of these strains.
The Best Rated Probiotics for Vaginal Health
Probiotics have also gained a lot of attention as of late after studies1 show that certain strains colonize the vaginal walls and may ward off bacterial and yeast infections. For more information, see our post on the best probiotics for women. Some of the probiotic recommendations include the Lactobacillus strains L. reuteri, L. rhamnosus and L. acidophilus. The Bifidobacterium strains B. Breve and B. longum are also beneficial.
Identifying the strains is only one parameter for finding the ideal probiotic tab. One other important facet is how the probiotics are processed. A common problem is that most of the strains inside a probiotic tab are already dead. A lot of people forget that, unlike vitamins and minerals, probiotics are living organisms. Even if the CFU numbers are in the 50 billion+ range, it doesn’t matter if the majority are long dead and no longer viable for colonizing your gut.
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The best rated probiotics should use freeze-dried or use similar processing for ensuring the majority remain alive inside the capsule — at least until the product’s expiration date.
Where to Buy Probiotics?
Can the best rated probiotics be found at your local Walmart? We can just tell you to look for a probiotic online or at a Walgreens, but why state the obvious? To find the best probiotics for treating a specific illness, first identify the strains scientifically proven for treating that particular malady. Once you know the strains, you can visit your local stores and look at the selection in person. This gives you a chance to read the labels up close. Stay away from probiotic supplements that don’t list the strains; manufacturers are not bound by law to disclose the strains. Selection overall may also be limited if you only elect to buy from a brick-and-mortar store.
Shopping for Probiotics Online
The other place is right behind your computer. Online vitamin shops, and yes, even Amazon, are sufficient places to look. We are not one to tell you where to buy probiotics. We will never tell you to definitely shop at store A and never at store B. The best rated probiotics don’t come down to where they’re sold.
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With that being said, though, we do recommend staying away from online shops with a sketchy reputation. Common complaints from online vitamin shops include:
- Sending the wrong item
- Sending the right item but wrong variation, such as flavor
- Sending products near their expiration date
- Items arrive damaged
- Hard-to-reach customer service
To eliminate the guesswork and browsing from one e-store to the next, we suggest visiting UMZU’s shop. Our own Floracil50 is a probiotic supplement that meets the above parameters we’ve been yapping about.
Be Selective When Choosing Probiotics
As beneficial as probiotics are, there are multiple variables that can render a probiotic supplement absolutely useless. Like any other supplement, please do your homework and know what you’re getting inside each probiotic tab. A poor probiotic supplement selection is no better than a placebo.