Probiotics are all over the news but many people are still not sure of what they are or what they do. Surprisingly, there are some people who know these things and still prefer not to eat “bacteria” because they think it is gross.
Studies have proven there are more benefits to probiotics than previously thought and that your gut health has more to do with the immune system, thyroid function, mental health and dozens of other body functions than you could imagine. So, what are probiotics and why should you care?
Probiotics are the good bacteria in your body, usually found lining the walls of the large and small intestines as well as in small numbers in the stomach. All told, probiotics in your body total about 3 pounds and they act like another organ. They are measured by CFUs which stands for “colony forming units” and you need billions to get your system back in balance. Each strain serves its purpose, lives out its lifetime and then dies and is flushed back out of the body as waste. If it is not replaced the bad bacteria can take over and then illnesses and other problems can arise. Every strain provides a different type of benefit but there is a lot of overlap.
There are 4 main species of probiotics and dozens of strains within each of those these 4 are:
- Lactobacillus. This is the most important of the species of probiotics especially for women. It produces an enzyme called lactase that helps digest milk, produces lactic acid which destroys many types of the bad microorganisms and helps to increase the absorption rate of certain types of minerals, most importantly calcium. The strains of this species help with overall digestive health, improved immunity, oral health, liver function and vaginal health
- Bifodobacterium. This species produces the majority of the energy used by the cells of the intestinal walls as well as the B complex vitamins and Vitamin K. The strains of this species can help absorb more nutrients from foods, helps the body detoxify itself and may provide relief from bloating, constipation and diarrhea.
- Bacillus. This species is among the toughest and is resistant to even stomach acid which makes it the easiest to start new colonies with. It lives in the body longer than the others and provides support for digestion, bowel issues and vaginal health.
- Streptococcus. Two strains within this species are beneficial, both for improved immune system activity and better oral health.
(Dr. David Williams)
In addition to the benefits listed above, probiotics can also help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and may play an essential role in mental health disorders including anxiety, depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and issues with memory. Some studies are currently inconclusive but show great promise while others have been small but successful and are currently being recreated on larger scales.
Before adding probiotics to your diet whether it is through food sources or with supplements, it is essential to know a few key facts.
- Potency can be determined by looking at the CFUs listed. The higher this number, the more potent the supplement is going to be.
- Higher is not always better especially with probiotics. At higher CFUs, the probiotics can cause stomach upset, gas and pain especially if you have an overly sensitive system, are prone to stomach issues or have recently been ill. Until your body is able to balance out the gut flora, these symptoms can continue. If this describes you, start with lower CFUs per dose and work up slowly.
- Some probiotics are not shelf stable and must be kept cold including being stored in the refrigerator. This may cause a problem with shipping so always make sure that your order will be shipped with the proper method and that someone will be there to accept your package on the day it is due to arrive.
- Read the ingredients list especially if you have food allergies or are trying to follow specific types of diets. Look for probiotics that do not have any filler, binder or artificial colors, flavors or other fake ingredients.
- If you are trying to treat a specific issue, read the label to see which strains/species of probiotics the capsule contains.
- Always opt for delayed-release capsules as the stomach acids can destroy the colonies before they get to the small intestine.
- As with any other type of supplement, always consult with your doctor before taking anything new. According to a series of studies discussed in The New Scientist, probiotics may not be the answer for everyone. Some people will pass them straight out without the colonies ever getting a chance to set up camp making the supplements an expensive waste of time and money. For others, the new colonies may not work well with the person’s established microbiome which can cause digestive flare-ups and other issues. And for still others, the probiotics colonize but then provide very little real benefit. They are helpful to many but not to everyone and there is no perfect, magic probiotic.
Best Probiotics for Women
[numbered-heading label=”Bio Schwartz Advanced Strength Probiotics” /]
Bio Schwartz Advanced Strength Probiotics uses something they call the MAK Trek delivery system to make sure that the cultures arrive in the small and large intestine unharmed. This system is supposed to make this process up to twenty times more effective over the traditional timed release or delayed-release capsules.
The capsules are free from gluten, soy, eggs, shellfish, corn, wheat, peanuts or sugar.
[highlight color=”pink” content=”%3Cp%3EFour%20of%20the%20most%20researched%20strains%20of%20probiotics%20are%20used%20in%20these%20once%20a%20day%20capsules%20and%20are%20meant%20to%20be%20used%20to%20promote%20healthy%20cholesterol%20levels%2C%20regular%20bowel%20movements%2C%20an%20improved%20and%20strengthened%20immune%20system%20and%20better%20digestive%20health.%20With%20the%20latter%2C%20there%20may%20also%20be%20easier%20weight%20loss%2C%20improved%20mood%20and%20a%20decrease%20in%20fatigue.%3C%2Fp%3E” /]
[pros-and-cons pros=”-Shelf-stable (no need to refrigerate)
-The potency of the cultures is guaranteed until the expiration date
-Third party testing for both purity and potency.
-100% all natural ingredients” cons=”-May be overwhelming to sensitive systems.
-This is not formulated specifically for women.” /]
[call2action label=”See Product Details on Amazon” link=”https://amzn.to/31Dj8La” color=”yellow” rel=”no-follow” target=”blank” /]
[numbered-heading label=”Nature’s Way Fortify Primadophilus Probiotics for Women” /]
Nature’s Way Fortify Probiotics for Women is meant to help treat common conditions like gas, bloating, constipation and improve general health and well-being.
[highlight color=”pink” content=”%3Cp%3EIt%20is%20an%20easy%20to%20swallow%2C%20vegetarian%20capsule%20that%20is%20designed%20to%20be%20delayed%20release.%20It%20contains%2030%20billion%20CFUs%20from%202%20different%20strains.%3C%2Fp%3E” /]
[pros-and-cons pros=”-Moderate level potency
-Designed specifically for women
-Uses delayed-release capsules” cons=”-Must be refrigerated.
-May increase constipation in some people” /]
[call2action label=”See Product Details on Amazon” link=”https://amzn.to/2QAb7k7″ color=”yellow” rel=”no-follow” target=”blank” /]
[numbered-heading label=”Ultimate Flora Women’s Probiotics” /]
Ultimate Flora Women’s Probiotics uses 12 strains of probiotics to improve digestion, strengthen the immune system and to improve the health of the vagina and the urinary tract.
[highlight color=”pink” content=”%3Cp%3EIt%20is%20taken%20one%20time%20per%20day%20and%20contains%2090%20billion%20live%20cultures.%20The%20delayed%20release%20capsules%20are%20vegetarian.%20They%20are%20also%20gluten%20and%20dairy%20free.%3C%2Fp%3E” /]
[pros-and-cons pros=”-Designed for women’s health needs including genito-urinary health
-Delayed release capsules for optimal benefits” cons=”-Needs to be refrigerated
-Foams a lot which can be quite unpleasant
-May be too strong for some people.” /]
[call2action label=”See Product Details on Amazon” link=”https://amzn.to/2G1UDPs” color=”yellow” rel=”no-follow” target=”blank” /]
[numbered-heading label=”Renew Life Ultimate Flora Probiotics” /]
Renew Life Ultra Flora Probiotics has both lactobacillus and bifidobacteria to help with problems ranging from occasional stomach upset and discomfort as well as to support digestive health and good function and vaginal health. It contains 50 billion cultures and is taken once per day.
[highlight color=”pink” content=”%3Cp%3EEach%20capsule%20is%20vegetarian%2C%20gluten%20free%2C%20dairy%20free%20and%20soy%20free.%20The%20live%20cultures%20are%20guaranteed%20by%20the%20company.%3C%2Fp%3E” /]
[pros-and-cons pros=”-Designed specifically for women
-Live cultures are guaranteed with 50 billion CFU from 2 species.
-Helps with a number of health issues including vaginal health.” cons=”-Does not have a timed release or protective coated capsule
-Must be refrigerated
-May be too much for sensitive systems.” /]
[call2action label=”See Product Details on Amazon” link=”https://amzn.to/3jrk7V4″ color=”yellow” rel=”no-follow” target=”blank” /]
[numbered-heading label=”Hyper Biotic Probiotics for Women” /]
Hyper Biotic Probiotics for Women uses patented technology to help its probiotics reach the large intestine. At 5 billion CFUs it is not very potent but that can be a good thing for the people who need to introduce the probiotics very slowly to prevent stomach and intestinal upsets and painful cramping. The capsules are lactose and gluten free as well as shelf stable making them easier for storage and for shipping.
[highlight color=”pink” content=”%3Cp%3EEach%20capsule%20also%20contains%20cranberry%20extract%20as%20well%20as%20naturally%20occurring%20D-Mannose.%20D-Mannose%2C%20also%20known%20as%3A%20carubinose%2C%20d-manosa%20and%20seminose%20is%20a%20naturally%20occurring%20sugar%20that%20can%20be%20found%20in%20several%20types%20of%20fruits.%20There%20are%20several%20European%20studies%20that%20are%20working%20to%20determine%20the%20efficacy%20of%20D-Mannose%20in%20the%20treatment%20of%20UTIs.%20There%20are%20several%20side%20effects%20to%20this%20sugar%20namely%20bloating%20and%20diarrhea.%20It%20should%20not%20be%20used%20by%20people%20with%20diabetes%20or%20by%20women%20who%20are%20pregnant%20or%20breastfeeding.%20In%20high%20doses%20it%20can%20cause%20kidney%20disease.%3C%2Fp%3E” /]
[pros-and-cons pros=”-Designed for women’s immune and vaginal health
-Contains added ingredients for the urinary system
-Can help with mood and energy levels as well.
-Shelf stable” cons=”-Not very potent
[call2action label=”See Product Details on Amazon” link=”https://amzn.to/32IUk42″ color=”yellow” rel=”no-follow” target=”blank” /]
[numbered-heading label=”Sedona Labs iFlora Probiotics for Women” /]
Sedona Labs iFlora Probiotics for Women uses 6 strains of probiotics with a moderate potency of 30 CFU. For people with sensitive stomachs this may be the perfect amount. It was specially designed for women’s vaginal and urinary tract health as well as to improve immunity.
[highlight color=”pink” content=”%3Cp%3EThe%20only%20other%20ingredients%20that%20are%20listed%20for%20these%20capsules%20are%20vegetable%20cellulose%20and%20stearate%20but%20there%20is%20no%20information%20about%20being%20gluten-free.%20This%20may%20simply%20be%20an%20oversight%20or%20it%20could%20mean%20that%20they%20are%20manufactured%20where%20they%20could%20come%20in%20contact%20with%20gluten-containing%20ingredients.%3C%2Fp%3E” /]
[pros-and-cons pros=”-Moderate level of CFUs
-Specially formulated for women and genito-urinary health
-Specially formulated to prevent gas
-Limited ingredients” cons=”-Not shelf stable
-Not a time-release or protective coated capsule
-Labeling does not indicated if this is gluten free or not.” /]
[call2action label=”See Product Details on Amazon” link=”https://amzn.to/3b8vj5M” color=”yellow” rel=”no-follow” target=”blank” /]
[numbered-heading label=”Health Labs Probiotics for Women with Cranberry and D-Mannose” /]
This probiotic capsule is dairy and gluten free. It also contains no wheat, corn or soy. It is kosher and vegetarian. There are zero GMO ingredients. Each capsule contains 6 billion CFUs plus cranberry extract and D-Mannose.
[highlight color=”pink” content=”%3Cp%3EIt%20is%20meant%20to%20help%20ease%20menstrual%20symptoms%20including%20cramps%2C%20bloating%2C%20constipation%20and%20gas.%20It%20is%20also%20supposed%20to%20help%20with%20digestive%20and%20overall%20health%20as%20well.%3C%2Fp%3E” /]
[pros-and-cons pros=”-Lower levels of CFUs perfect for sensitive systems or slow introduction of new bacteria to your system
-Delayed release capsules with added acid resistance
-100% money back guarantee, even your shipping costs are refunded
-Frequent deals from the manufacturer can save even more money” cons=”-D-Mannose can be a problem for some people
-Not shelf stable” /]
[call2action label=”See Product Details on Amazon” link=”https://amzn.to/3gzM23e” color=”yellow” rel=”no-follow” target=”blank” /]
[numbered-heading label=”Garden of Life RAW Probiotics for Women” /]
Garden of Life RAW Probiotics for Women claims to be one of the most potent sources of probiotics on the market. With 85 billion CFUs from 33 strains they might be right but this may be too much for some people especially those who have sensitive systems or have been recently ill.
[highlight color=”pink” content=”%3Cp%3EThe%20addition%20of%20a%20digestive%20enzyme%20is%20a%20nice%20touch%20as%20are%20the%20vitamins%20and%20minerals%20that%20are%20included%20here.%20There%20is%20no%20soy%2C%20fillers%2C%20binders%20or%20carriers%20in%20these%20vegetarian%20capsules.%20They%20are%20also%20gluten-free.%3C%2Fp%3E” /]
[pros-and-cons pros=”-Contains an enzyme supplement which helps with digestion
-Designed specifically for women
-Contains vitamins and minerals for added nutritional support
-Shipped directly from the warehouse with a cold pack” cons=”-Expensive
-May be too much with 85 CFUs from 33 different strains of bacteria
-Must be refrigerated” /]
[call2action label=”See Product Details on Amazon” link=”https://amzn.to/3b7OjBz” color=”yellow” rel=”no-follow” target=”blank” /]
[numbered-heading label=”Natural Riches Probiotics for Women” /]
Natural Riches Probiotics for Women come from a California based company that uses specific ingredients that they claim are ethically sourced for purity and safety. However, they do not indicate whether the capsules are vegetarian, gluten-free or if there are any potential allergenic ingredients. Each timed-release capsule contains 30 CFUs that were chosen to improve digestive health, strengthen the immune system and to help with vaginal health.
[highlight color=”pink” content=”%3Cp%3EIt%20is%20also%20designed%20to%20help%20absorb%20calcium%20which%20is%20essential%20for%20women%20over%20the%20age%20of%2050%20especially%20those%20who%20are%20at%20higher%20risk%20for%20osteoporosis%20and%20other%20bone%20destroying%20diseases.%3C%2Fp%3E” /]
[pros-and-cons pros=”-100% pure and natural ingredients
-Specifically designed for women especially for women over the age of 50
-Money back guarantee
-Price is good.” cons=”-Not shelf stable
-Does not indicate whether it is gluten-free on the label.” /]
[call2action label=”See Product Details on Amazon” link=”https://amzn.to/3gHlRYe” color=”yellow” rel=”no-follow” target=”blank” /]
[numbered-heading label=”Probiotic Pearls Once Daily Women’s Probiotics” /]
Probiotic Pearls Once Daily Women’s Probiotics only has about 1 billion CFUs per softgel which makes it one of the lowest potency on the market. This could be a big plus for some people and a major negative for others. It uses three different strains with a triple layer protective system to keep the stomach acids from destroying the cultures. It is shelf stable so there is no worry about delivery or storage.
[highlight color=”pink” content=”%3Cp%3EThe%20softgels%20have%20no%20sugar%2C%20salt%2C%20wheat%2C%20artificial%20color%20or%20flavors%20or%20preservatives.%20They%20are%20also%20gluten-free.%3C%2Fp%3E” /]
[pros-and-cons pros=”-Lower level of potency may be perfect for people who have sensitive stomachs or those who like to take a more cautious approach to new things.
-Triple layer system protects the probiotics until they reach their proper destination in the system.
-Shelf stable so no refrigeration is needed.” cons=”-Lower potency” /]
[call2action label=”See Product Details on Amazon” link=”https://amzn.to/31Dkju8″ color=”yellow” rel=”no-follow” target=”blank” /]
Probiotics can be beneficial for some but not all people. It is important to consider whether your system is working the way you want it to before trying to change things up. If you do decide that probiotics might be right for you, discuss your health and nutritional needs with your doctor before starting anything. Start with lower potencies and then work up slowly if you have a sensitive stomach. Look for the strains that fit your needs and understand that there are many. Choosing a capsule that has a lower to middle pricing point and a money back guarantee might be a good idea especially if you are one of the people that probiotics will do nothing for.
Women should be aware that some products labeled for “women” may have no additional benefit to them but may still have a higher price tag simply because of the marketing. Also be aware that frequent UTIs and yeast infections may indicate a more serious problem and should be addressed by a gynecologist before just adding probiotics and hoping they go away.
Read all label information especially if you are not sure if your probiotics are shelf stable or not. Anything that should be stored cold that is shipped improperly should be shipped back and your money immediately returned.