Probiotics can be beneficial in fighting a wide variety of ailments, but you have to know the right dosage for adults. As with any supplement, it's imperative to take the right amount specified for what ails you.
Probiotics aren't like supplements that are taken daily. In fact, you may not even need them. There are certain ailments improved by probiotics, but to determine the probiotic dosage for adults, your doctor has to examine you and decide on your prescription.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are strains of bacteria that are important for intestinal health. Your body has a balance of bacteria within its system, and it's crucial that you maintain it appropriately.
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Lactobacillus is one of the bacteria types you can find in probiotics. Some common uses are for irritable bowel syndrome, colicky babies, bacteria overgrowth, constipation and various ailments that involve the inflammation of the gut.
You can find probiotics in food and also in the form of a supplement. Not everyone needs to take probiotic supplements; for some, eating food rich in healthy fauna will provide all of the benefits that a supplement would provide.
Read more: CFU vs. Strains: The Ultimate Probiotic Explainer
What Do Probiotics Improve?
It's important to note that probiotic benefits are strain-specific. So, before picking a probiotic to use for a particular ailment, ensure that you're getting the right one. Probiotics are sold as health supplements, which means they aren't regulated. While they aren't all bad, some aren't entirely trustworthy either, so research before you buy.
Lactobacillus is the most commonly used strain in probiotic supplements. It's most frequently used to help with intestinal issues, though it has applications in treating other conditions as well.
Probiotic Dosage for Adults
As with anything you take to improve your health, dosage is important. If you take too much, you may cause new problems, and too little won't do anything at all.
There's a common misconception that probiotics should be taken every day, according to an article published in May 2016 by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Probiotics are a tool that can be helpful when trying to improve certain conditions typically related to the gastric system, but are not a daily supplement.
There is still a need for a lot more research on the microbiome of the gut. Because of the lack of deeper information, we don't know what the optimum balance is for bacteria in the stomach.
While you can find recommended dosages for adults with different ailments, it's best to talk to a doctor about the right dosage for you. Only a physician who has examined you will be able to determine what your health needs or to provide your specific dosage amounts.
Probiotics and Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Small amounts of a probiotic taken for a short duration of time were found in a study from the June 2016 issue of BMC Gastroenterology to help people who have irritable bowel syndrome. The study didn't show improvements in individual symptoms, but those with IBS experienced an overall quality-of-life improvement.
Take notice of the "short-term" recommendation of dosage. As you're now aware, probiotics aren't meant to be taken daily for the rest of your life. But they can help improve several different conditions when used correctly. Whatever your doctor decides is right for you, you can be sure you won't be refilling that prescription for the rest of your life.
No More Constipation With Probiotics
Constipation is one of those things most people don't want to experience or discuss. Unfortunately for those who have this condition, there are several different causes of constipation. Luckily though, for some, a healthy dose of good bacteria can resolve the problem.
In a review on the effects of probiotics on bowel movement frequency, from the September 2017 issue of Annals of Gastroenterology, researchers found consistent evidence of an increase of one bowel movement per week.
The review warned that readers should take this recommendation with caution due to the differences in methodology and practices between studies in the report. Should you decide to use probiotics for this purpose, studies focused on the Lactobacillus species, in particular.
Since the review looked at multiple studies, it didn't provide a recommendation for probiotic dosage in adults. Medication dosages should only be determined by your physician, as people are all different, and so are their relative states of gut fauna health.
Additional Conditions Eased Through Probiotics
Constipation and irritable bowel syndrome aren't the only conditions that can be helped by probiotics. With each ailment, you'll need to make sure you're taking the proper dosage, for the right duration, to experience the benefits.
There's more evidence that lactobacillus is effective for:
- Hayfever. Probiotics can improve the quality of life of those with these types of allergies by 18 percent.
- Diarrhea caused by antibiotics. When you get sick and take antibiotics, you strip your gut of essential bacteria that helps to keep you healthy. So, when you're taking antibiotics and experience diarrhea due to the change in balance, taking a probiotic can improve these symptoms.
- Eczema. It is improved in children and infants through the administration of probiotics. Giving these supplements to children can prevent them from ever getting eczema in the first place.
- Bacterial vaginosis. Lactobacillus suppositories may be the solution to this, but talk to a doctor first.
- Constipation. It won't stop right away, but with four to eight weeks of regular dosages, you may find relief from lactobacillus.
- Diabetes. Probiotics have also been found to help reduce the chances of the onset of diabetes during pregnancy.
- Heart disease. This particular strain can be used to reduce your cholesterol levels.
- Ulcerative colitis. Lactobacillus can effect a remission in this condition of the bowels.
Probiotics and Side Effects
If you are a healthy person, you likely won't have many, if any, negative side effects from taking probiotics. The only adverse effect you might experience is gas, which is a sign that you're taking too much. For people with certain health complications taking probiotics can lead to more severe complications. So, as always, talk to your doctor before you start taking these supplements.
Of particular concern are those with compromised immune systems. An April 2019 article published by the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy indicates that people with cancer taking probiotics have poorer immune systems and recovery rates.
The National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine also noted the poor reactions between probiotics and immunosuppressant medications. Overall, this further provides evidence that you need to confirm with your doctor that taking probiotics will benefit you.
There still needs to be additional research on the safety of probiotics. Unfortunately, the focuses of most studies have been their impact on different ailments. While these benefits are essential to prove or disprove, there hasn't been enough investigation into possible adverse reactions.
Probiotic Foods to Start Eating
Pills aren't the only source of probiotics. You can get your dose of healthy intestinal bacteria through everyday foods. The process of fermentation encourages the growth of different bacterial species, like those commonly used in probiotics.
Read more: The Benefits of Fermented Foods and 5 DIY Recipes
Anything pickled, such as sauerkraut and kimchi, is a great option for probiotic foods. If pickled food isn't your favorite choice, there are still plenty of other options. There's a reason miso, tempeh and kombucha are found in the health food section of the grocery store, and that's because of the critical fauna these items have stored up for you.
Yogurt is a widely popular food that contains considerable probiotics and is also enjoyed by many different cultures as part of their regional cuisines. If you have an aversion to vinegar, yogurt might be the better choice for you.
- BMC Gastroenterology: “Effects of Probiotic Type, Dose and Treatment Duration on Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diagnosed by Rome III Criteria: A Meta-Analysis”
- Annals of Gastroenterology: “Effects of Probiotic-Containing Products on Stool Frequency and Intestinal Transit in Constipated Adults: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials”
- Harvard Health Publishing: “Health Benefits of Taking Probiotics”
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine: “Probiotics: In Depth”
- Center for Science in the Public Interest: “Should You Take a Probiotic Every Day?”
- National Library of Medicine: “Lactobacillus”
- Harvard Health Publishing: “Fermented Foods Can Add Depth to Your Diet”
- Parker Institute: "Probiotics Linked to Poorer Response to Cancer Immunotherapy in Skin Cancer Patients"