2021 Probiotic Supplement Guide
Discover the Best Probiotic Supplements on the Market Today + Why to Avoid Amazon ReviewsUpdated 07/25/2021
Probiotics continue to rise in popularity as new studies prove the importance of gut health to every single aspect of our our well-being.
Unfortunately, this growing trend has created a breeding ground for many fly-by-night “brands” making false claims and selling inferior, ineffective products.
With so many different brands, we decided it was time to perform a comprehensive review. Watch the video below to learn what to look for and avoid in probiotic supplements.
Is Your Gut Killing You?
Take a look at your hand. While it appears to be completely human, it's not. In fact, 90% of your body is made up of bacteria. There are trillions of them living inside us, and most are located in our gut. This ecosystem is made of both good and bad bacteria that are in a constant battle for resources. The good bacteria regulate hormones, produce vitamins, and fight off infections. That said, we want to maintain the right balance of good and bad bacteria to stay healthy.
Our gut becomes unbalanced when the bad bacteria begin to outnumber the good bacteria. This doesn't just effect our digestion. Our gut is intimately connected to other bodily systems, so if an imbalance is left unchecked, problems begin to spread throughout our bodies.
There are several signs of an unbalanced gut that also signal whole-body problems.
5 Signs Your Gut Health Is In Danger
As you can see, having an unbalanced gut leads to more serious health issues. But why suffer when there's an obvious solution? Millions of people have already revolutionized their health with probiotics. Unfortunately, the market is flooded with ineffective and dangerous products, so it's critical to find a supplement with everything on the checklist below:
The 5 Keys to Choosing an Effective Probiotic
Because it can be daunting to dig through all the clutter on the market, we give you 5 things to look for when choosing a quality probiotic:
Number of CFUs
Probiotics are measured in CFUs (Colony Forming Units). The quantity of CFUs has a huge impact on the product's efficacy. Look for 40-50 billion CFUs per serving.
Many probiotics on the market only contain 1-2 strains, which are not nearly enough to make a difference. Look for a probiotic formula that has at least 8-12 separate strains for the most comprehensive approach to your digestive and immune health.
Listed next to strains on the label, they indicate that a particular probiotic strain has been clinically studied and proven effective (e.g. L. Acidophilus La-14TM)
Probiotics that use fiber-based prebiotics like NutraFlora® Fiber nourish the good bacteria so that it thrives in the gut and increases overall effectiveness.
It takes specific expertise to form an effective probiotic formulation.. The exact combination of strain type, quantity and prebiotics determines the product's quality. Look for real doctors specializing in gut health backing the product.
What You Should Avoid
WARNING: Hidden label quantities: Many dishonest companies will not show the actual quantities of the specific strains or ingredients on their label. They do this so they can save money on the more expensive strains listed, and put cheaper strains in their place. This essentially renders the probiotic product ineffective. Always look for exact quantities listed next to each strain.
The Importance of Clinically-Studied Strains
Sometimes probiotic supplements will contain a multitude of different strains in hopes to look appeasing to a consumer who thinks they will be benefiting from all of this diversity.
Sadly, there are only a handful of strains on the market that have been proven effective when packaged and introduced to your gut. When you see probiotics with upwards of 12 strains, keep in mind that only a small portion of those strains will actually survive your stomach acid, reach your gut and be beneficial to your health.
Below is a list of strains with the most clinical studies backing their effectiveness
Top Strains By Category:
- L. acidophilus. This strain boosts the treatment of respiratory infections, helps relieve IBS, decreases the frequency of yeast infections, reduces the growth of pathogens in the digestive tract and produces lactase which helps break down the sugar in milk.
- L. casei. This assists with digestion issues including Crohn's disease, ulcers and other gastrointestinal problems.
- L. plantarum. Plantarum helps treat IBS, Crohn's disease and colitis. It preserves critical nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants.
- L. salivarius. Salivarius makes enzymes that kill bad bacteria, including the kind that causes bad breath. It also helps with flatulence and bloating.
- B. longum. This strain pauses bad microbes and prevents them from growing. Longum also breaks down carbohydrates and reduces the symptoms of seasonal allergies.
- Bacillus Coagulans. This helps to stop the growth of bad bacteria. It also prevents various digestive issues (IBS, diarrhea in both children and adults and stomach ulcers).
- L. rhamnosus. This strain aids in the prevention of urinary tract infections (UTI), especially those caused by antibiotics. It also helps to build the immune system, assists in digestion of dairy products and helps to fight intestinal tract illnesses.
- B. lactis. This increases immune function, helps to fight off infections, makes faster recovery times possible, and helps to prevent diarrhea in both adults and children.
- B. bifidum. Bifidum helps to stop the increase of bad bacteria, heightens the immune system, and aids in the digestion process, specifically of dairy products.
- L. bulgaricus. Bulgaricus works in your intestinal lining as an enforcer by getting rid of any toxins. This strain also creates its own natural antibiotics.
- L. gasseri. A number of clinical trials and studies have shown gasseri reduces abdominal fat and supports weight loss. This also helps with easing the pain of menstruation. It can also assist in lowering cholesterol.
Our Unique Research Procedure
We conducted in-house research to verify that the ingredients in the supplement itself were the same as claimed on the label. We surveyed our readers who have tried the product over time in order to learn from their experiences. We surveyed consumers in the biggest online marketplaces, like Amazon, eBay, Shopzilla, and PriceGrabber.
We analyzed all of these factors to determine the best probiotic supplement out there.
Probiotics We Tested
- 1MD Complete Probiotics Platinum
- Align Probiotic Supplement
- Advanced Probiotics
- Bifidus Best Advanced Probiotic
- Probiotic-40 Supplement
- Nexabiotic Probiotic
Bio KPlus Acidophilus Capsules
- BIOPRO-50 Ultimate Probiotic
- Pro-X10 Probiotics
- Bowtrol Probiotics
- Culturelle Probiotics
- Digestive Advantage Probiotics
- Dr. Axe Probiotics
ProbiumProbiotics Multi Blend 12B
The Results Are In...
After surveying over 8,000 user reviews and then carefully reviewing 74 brands, only a select few passed our strict testing criteria listed above. Users reported enhanced health—from boosted immune responses and solid digestion to positive mood effects, sharper mental clarity, and more. Here are our Top 5 Picks.
Top Picks are updated monthly based on testing and analyses
- 51 Billion CFUs
- 11 distinct strains
- Third-party tested
- All-natural formula
- Formulated by a doctor
- No artificial additives
- A+ customer service
- 90-day return policy
In our research of the best probiotic supplements on the market today, 1MD's "Complete Probiotics" won our #1 Best Choice Award for a variety of notable reasons. First, it is the only product of all brands we tested that completely answered all of our strict criteria.
We verified that 1MD's Complete Probiotics contains over 50+ billion CFUs with 11 strains clearly labeled with their clinically tested substrains and respective quantities.
The product is formulated by a medical doctor specializing in intestinal health. It contains all-natural ingredients, no fillers or additives, NutraFlora® prebiotic fiber to boost absorption, and veggie capsules.
It is non-dairy, non-GMO, gluten free, soy free, preservative free, and vegan-friendly.
Users reported a slew of positive results, including better digestion, mood, and cognitive functioning. The product uses
1MD offers a 90-day money-back guarantee, which shows us that this company stands behind its products. For all of these reasons, 1MD is our #1 top choice.Buy Now > >
By the thinnest margin, LiveWell Nutrition ranked #2 in our top picks with their premium Pro-45 probiotic supplement. The probiotics contained 45 billion CFUs across 11 different strains, just shy of the performance of 1MD, our #1 choice.
LiveWell's Pro-45 uses vegetarian, delayed release capsules, and offers a 365-day unconditional return policy, but it was not endorsed by an
Users gave this product high marks in the categories of customer service, returns, and overall effectiveness. All of this made Pro45 the obvious choice for our #2 pick.Order Now > >
Call Physician's CHOICE Toll Free:
Taking our 3rd spot is 60 Billion Probiotics by Physician's CHOICE. 60 Billion Probiotics features an impressive 10 probiotic strains with 60 Billion CFUs. However, on further investigation, none of the strains are clinically studied substrains — all are generic. As mentioned in our article, you’ll always want to look for substrains on the label, which are indicated by a combination of numbers and letters after the main probiotic stain (eg. L. gasseri L22G). Unless this is clearly indicated, there’s no way to gauge the quality of each strain.
However, because of the overall number of CFUs, it has won our coveted 3rd place designation.
Align Probiotic by P&G comes in fourth place, still having bested dozens of other probiotic products on the market. Users rated the probiotic highly, though it contains only one strain of probiotic — Bifidobacterium infantis 35624.
We are also not happy that the formula includes almost nine fillers, binders, and synthetic ingredients, which serve absolutely no purpose other than to fill space in the capsule. However, because consumers continue to rate this probiotic highly, it places fourth in our ranking.Order Now > >
While Digestive Daily Probiotic is very popular on the market and Culturelle is a trusted brand, unfortunately its formula lacks the potency and diversity that our other products feature. In fact, it has only 1 probiotic strain with 10 billion live cultures, which is far lower than the 11 diverse strains and 51 billion Colony Forming Units that our #1 pick has.
However, due to the consumer loyalty this brand enjoys, it made our Top 5 list this year.
What We Do
ConsumersSurvey uses a unique three-step approach to reviewing the most popular products in the online marketplace
1. Research First we conduct in-house research with a highly qualified editorial team comprised of individuals who specialize in various fields.
2. SurveyWe survey our readers who have tried the product over time in order to learn from their experiences.
3. OpinionWe monitor public opinion in the world’s most popular marketplaces, from Amazon and eBay, to Bizrate and Pricegrabber.