If I want to take a probiotic supplement, what type should I use?

Ask your doctor if taking a probiotic supplement is right for you and, if so, what type would be best. Probiotics, sometimes called "good bacteria," are microorganisms similar to or the same as those found naturally in your digestive tract. Some research shows they can be helpful in relieving symptoms in people who have irritable bowel syndrome and other gastrointestinal ailments, and researchers are exploring other potential benefits as well.

Probiotics are available in some foods (notably yogurt) as well as in supplements in pill, capsule, and powder forms. Research into the safety of taking probiotics, especially long term, is ongoing. In addition to asking your doctor for advice on choosing a probiotic supplement, you may want to consider these other expert tips on choosing dietary supplements:
  • Look for a product from a well-known manufacturer whose address, e-mail, and/or phone number are on the label in case you have questions or concerns.
  • Avoid products whose labels carry phrases such as "miracle cure," "medical breakthrough" or other broad, unsubstantiated claims.
  • Do not substitute a dietary supplement for more conventional, proven treatment.

Continue Learning about Dietary Supplements

Dietary Supplements

Whether you're visiting the drug store, grocery or natural food shop you'll likely find an aisle where there are jars and bottles of things for you to put in your body that are neither foods nor medicines. Ranging from vitamins an...

d minerals to fiber and herbal remedies, these supplements are not regulated in the same way as either food or medicine. Some of them are backed by solid research, others are folk remedies or proprietary cures. If your diet does not include enough of certain vitamins or minerals, a supplement may be a good idea. Natural treatment for conditions like constipation may be effective. But because these substances are unregulated, it is always a good idea to educate yourself about the products and to use common sense when taking them. This is even more true if you are pregnant or taking a medicine that may be affected by supplements.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.