Probiotics: Food vs. Supplement?

March 9, 2009

One of the hottest topics today in the field of nutrition and health is PROBIOTICS.

Probiotics are “live microorganisms administered in adequate amounts which confer a beneficial health effect on the host”. Historically, probiotics have been helpful for improving digestion and enhancing our immune systems, however, with research of probiotics on the rise, we are learning about other potential health benefits of probiotics (for example, improving blood pressure and cholesterol levels).

Commonly, people ask me if they need to get probiotics from food or can they take a supplement. While using supplements containing probiotics is an option, I always advise to choose food first over supplements whenever its available. By choosing food products containing probiotics you also get the nutritional benefits of eating that particular food. For example, probiotics can be found in yogurt, which is a good source of calcium, riboflavin, potassium, and proteins. By eating the yogurt instead of taking a supplement you get all the extra nutrients important for good health, whereas, if you take a supplement, you will miss out on all of these extra nutrients.

Probiotics in the U.S. can be found in a wide range of foods, including dairy products, cereals, juices, and even cookies. When choosing a probiotic, it is important to know the strain name of the probiotic, the number of viable bacteria per serving, and the extent of research on humans that demonstrates a health benefit using the particular strain and the amount of probiotic in the product.

Some probiotic products sold in the U.S. include Yakult, DanActive/Activia Yogurt, and Stonyfield Farms yogurts.

yogurtyakult

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