Tuesday, Dec 19, 2006
Probiotics sold over the counter often don’t contain enough live bacteria to be effective, according to a new report from ConsumerLab.com.
“There’s a very high chance that you may be buying dead bacteria unless you shop very carefully,” Dr. Tod Cooperman, president of ConsumerLab.com, told Reuters Health. “You should also take care once you buy the product so that you don’t throw your money out the window.”
Probiotics are “good” bacteria that are effective in treating irritable bowel syndrome symptoms and diarrhea due to rotavirus infection, and can also help restore normal gut bacteria among people taking antibiotics. They have become one of the most popular dietary supplements among US consumers, outselling iron, magnesium, garlic and all herbal products, Cooperman noted.
ConsumerLab.com’s analysis of 13 brands of probiotics found just 9 contained at least 1 billion viable organisms per dose, the amount considered necessary for effectiveness.
Brands that fell short of the billion mark included DDS Acidophilus; Flora Source; Nature’s Secret Ultimate Probiotic 4-Billion; and Rite Aid Acidophilus, Milk Free. Advocare Probiotic Restore did contain the 1 billion minimum, but claimed on its label to pack 30 billion per dose.
The group also tested three probiotics for pets, and found that two didn’t contain the recommended amount of viable organisms and one of them was contaminated with mold.
The full list of results is available with a ConsumerLab subscription, but the Web site will begin posting free examples of probiotics that passed inspection in January.
Probiotic products should be stored away from light, moisture and heat in order to preserve the organisms, Cooperman said. “I like to refrigerate them,” he added. “That’s probably the best thing you can do.”