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Should I be taking a probiotic pill?

Vitamins, supplements, and probiotics are readily available at most pharmacies, grocery stores, wholesale clubs, and even the dollar stores. You might find yourself wondering about the health benefits of different over-the-counters and whether you should be taking vitamins, supplements, or probiotics. This blog post is going to focus on probiotics.

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are also referred to as “good” or “friendly” bacteria. Everyone has bacteria that live in their body and help your body function. Certain good types of bacteria can help your body defend itself from infections caused by harmful bacteria or other germs.

Should I be taking a probiotic?

You should not take any over-the-counter supplements without talking to your health care provider or pharmacist first. Without doing anything, probiotics will get into your body on their own. You may already be consuming probiotics daily through different foods, such as yogurts, kombucha drinks, kimchi, and/or Kefir. Even though your body naturally will find its way to probiotics, some people still like to take extra probiotics in the form of a pill. There are even “pre-biotics” available to take as a pill, which contain food that probiotics like. The truth about probiotic pills is that there is not a lot of evidence for their use quite yet. Studies have varied on whether probiotics seem to improve health or benefit the body. Some show they help, and some show no benefit. There is more research that needs to be done to determine whether probiotics are helpful as a daily supplement.

Read more about probiotics here.

There are some areas where probiotics have been studied and showed promising results. Probiotics may be helpful for antibiotic-associated diarrhea (including Clostridium difficile or “C diff”), prevention of necrotizing enterocolitis and sepsis in premature infants, infant colic, periodontal disease, and/or ulcerative colitis. However, there is still a lot to be learned about probiotics and much ongoing research.

Another issue is that most over-the-counter probiotics are not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration the way standard medications are. Unfortunately, companies that make probiotics do not have to prove that the ingredients listed on the bottle are actually what is inside. There are even potential dangers to taking probiotics. Particularly for those people with weak immune systems, probiotics could cause an infection.

Before starting any probiotic product, you should discuss the risks and benefits with your healthcare provider. Further research on probiotics will be extremely valuable in the future.


Disclaimer: This blog is written for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen online.

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Dr. Andrea M. Jones

Dr. Andrea M. Jones is a clinical pharmacist specializing in transitions of care to facilitate a smooth transition for patients between the hospital and outpatient settings. Dr. Jones graduated from the University of Colorado School of Pharmacy and completed post-graduate year 1 residency at the Southern Arizona VA Healthcare System in Tucson, Arizona. Dr. Jones also worked in retail/community pharmacies for over 5 years during undergraduate studies at the University of Kentucky and pharmacy school at the University of Colorado.




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