Best probiotic pills?
October 25, 2012 6:14 PM   Subscribe

Best probiotic pills?

Was recently visiting a friend and drank these great probiotic drinks every morning. They really seemed to work as promised, but sadly my grocery doesn't carry them and the probiotic drink it does sell is nasty tasting. I was thinking of buying some probiotic pills from the drugstore, but there are so many options - I'd love some advice on which are best.
posted by rainbowbrite to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Well, here's a tip: anything that isn't refrigerated is unlikely to have the active cultures you want, so you probably don't want a drug store version, but instead a version from Whole Foods.

Ask a helpful sales person for a MILD probiotic and see if your system can tolerate it. Probiotic overdose is a real and very, very uncomfortable thing.
posted by munyeca at 6:31 PM on October 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

BD makes an OTC pill it calls Lactinex, which is usually kept in a fridge behind the drugstore counter, to keep the bacteria from spoiling. I took these for a while and it has helped.

They are somewhat expensive, though, and I ended up switching to Lifeway kefir, which is like liquid yogurt. The fruit-flavored varieties are delicious and relatively inexpensive, and my gut seems to like them.

My parents are hippie types and latched onto kefir beads/grains. You put some of the beads in a jar with milk and let it ferment overnight on the counter. The beads contain probiotic bacteria that incubate in the milk. The next morning, you have homemade kefir, to which you can add fruit or fruit juice to sweeten the sour taste.

I don't know where they got their beads. I think they went to a Mother Earth fair and they either bought them or they met someone who shared. These beads are living, so — just as with bread yeast — if you know someone with them who will share, you can simply get a few beads and start making your own, if cost is an issue.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:31 PM on October 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding Lifeway kefir. I've tried a number of brands of kefir, and Lifeway is the tastiest*. I usually get the plain kind, but the pomegranate flavor is also delicious. Put it on your cereal! Put in a smoothie! Just straight put it in your mouth! It has done wonders for my gut and it will do wonders for yours.

* I am not being paid to say this, either in dollars or kefir.
posted by guybrush_threepwood at 6:43 PM on October 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

The Corpse household has tried many different ones, and we like Nutrition Now's PB8 best. (I can't tell the difference, but one member of my family can.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:43 PM on October 25, 2012

I recommend this brand.
Delicious as hell and it definitely makes me feel significantly better.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 6:55 PM on October 25, 2012

have you tried any of the (non-drink-form) probiotic yogurts? most of those have the same live cultures and health benefits of the drinks, just without being, well, drinkable.
posted by sexyrobot at 9:16 PM on October 25, 2012

Most likely all probiotics drinks are sham (with a couple of probiotics and with very small amounts).

You do not mention your reason for taking probiotics. I take them regularly as I have ulcerative colitis and they are super expensive $130 for 20 sachets (about 40 doses), Its called as VSL#3 DS. VSL#3 (regular) would cost you about half with half the quantity of what I use. This is powder form and MUST be stored in the fridge. But for day-to-day use, if you do not have any health issue, especially GI issues then Benebiotics is the best. Its capsule form and does not need refrigeration. I give this to my 4 year old son.
I take VSL#3 in my morning smoothie and DS takes it with apple sauce.

I could write endless why these are the best but I don't think you are looking for that info. If you do want that info, PM me.
posted by zaxour at 2:22 AM on October 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

I really like Digestive Advantage (formerly Sustenex) probiotic gummies. I take a medication that is hard on my GI tract, and this is the first probiotic that actually helps. Plus, they taste great! The dose suggested on the bottle is 2-4 gummies per day, and I take 2.
posted by FergieBelle at 6:25 AM on October 26, 2012

Probiotics are unfortunately a bit of an unregulated jungle right now, unfortunately. There was recently a great article in the New Yorker (which might get posted online eventually) about the current research, which is still mostly in the beginning stages. Right now supplements are unregulated, and the article talked about how a lot of manufacturers are just stuffing a bunch of strains together which can actually be counter-beneficial; likewise what each individual needs for their specific condition will vary a lot. If you have a specific condition you're trying to treat, I'd make best friends with PubMed to see about research on particular strains, and be prepared to try several before you find the right one for you.

Fwiw, a doctor once recommended Primal Defense to me as the best all-around one. I also had good luck with this one for ladypart issues at one point, and it is backed with some solid research.

Personally, for all-around health I think traditionally-made fermented foods are the best thing you can do long-term (though I always do pills after rounds of antibiotics too). I saw Sandor Katz speak last year and he talked about major differences between commercial kefir and traditionally-made; the big problem is that large scale production requires a level of standardization that is just not possible with traditional methods. To do it they isolate just one or two strains (rather than what naturally results), and he felt that a lot of the benefits were lost in that process. I make my own kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut, but obviously not everyone has the time/interest and pills are certainly a decent alternative if you can't.
posted by susanvance at 7:33 AM on October 26, 2012

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