I worked in the vitamin industry for a total of 8 years. When I started, I did not take vitamins. Of course when I was a little kid my mom gave us horrible, chalky kids vitamins but when I went out into the world on my own, I didn't take a vitamin. But as I worked in the industry, I started reading about specific ingredients, especially those with clinical studies behind them, such as glucosamine chondroitin.
I began a vitamin regimen and it has morphed over the years. I take a multi, calcium, vitamin D, B complex, a joint health product, magnesium and probiotic. That may seem like a lot but in reading about how "fresh" fruits and veggies are produced and held in storage before they get to the supermarket, I believe that a lot of the nutrients are missing by the time I take them home and eat them. I do not live in an area where there are year-round farmers markets so I want to make sure I am getting the right nutrients for my body.
Over the past 3 years, I've been impressed with the amount of new research on probiotics. The world of probiotics is very confusing because the studies to determine health benefits are always on a very specific strain. And there are MILLIONS of strains out there! It is almost impossible to find the exact strain that a study was performed on in a retail store - you can search online but then (because they are usually sold by an off-brand name) you have to hope the company making the product focuses on high quality standards.
Let me dispel one myth about vitamins. They are regulated! Many times in the news you will hear vitamins are not regulated but that is not true. The companies I worked for had frequent unannounced audits by the FDA and never had an infraction. I can vouch that retailers like Costco, Target and Walmart have extremely strict quality processes for vitamins sold in their brand names.
Getting back to probiotics - the reason you need to be taking probiotics on a daily basis is simply they offer a variety of benefits. No other ingredient can deliver a healthy gut, support the immune system, provide regularity and helps banish bloating. The most plentiful bacteria in your gut are the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium genus. So if you decide to try a probiotic, definitely look for those genus. It does take about 2 weeks of regular usage in order to start to notice a difference. So you have to stick with it!
Now, as far as dosage goes, start off with a product that has at least 10 Billion CFUs (Colony Forming Units). The CFU is simply the measurement estimate of the viable bacteria in the capsule. I am sure you are used to seeing Vitamin D 1,000 IU and Vitamin C 500 mg in stores. The IU (international units) and mg (milligrams) are how those ingredients are measured. CFUs are simply how probiotic strains are measured. See, nothing fancy about CFUs!
There are plenty of products out there to try. Culturelle, TruNature (found at Costco), Spring Valley (found at Walmart) and Renew Life, can all be purchased online or in national retailers. I hope you give probiotics a try! Even if you don't have a vitamin regimen, probiotics are the one supplement that your body can get many benefits from!
Now, you may also be thinking, "Why not just eat probiotic foods?" You can, but you would have to eat a lot of them daily to get the benefits. Plus, you may not be able to digest dairy (like me) which is where a lot of high dosage probiotics can be sourced from. There are non-dairy options but how many people drink kombucha or have miso on a daily basis? For me, the ability to carry a probiotic supplement with me to take with food is so much more convenient than to bring a kombucha everywhere I go.
If you try a probiotic, let me know what you think! I'll be sure to get back to you quickly!