How to Choose the Best Probiotic for Your Family

by Sarah Natural RemediesComments: 52

best probiotic for your family

The number of probiotic supplements on the market is nothing short of staggering! Given that the bacteria living in and on your body outnumber your human cells 10 to 1 (American Society for Microbiology), it is clear the great importance of selecting the best probiotic supplement to support and sustain this beneficial microbial activity working synergistically with your biological systems.

How to choose the best probiotic supplement for your particular situation?

Which are best and most effective?

Are soil based probiotics important?

Do the particular strains matter?

Does it matter if they are refrigerated or unrefrigerated?

While specific strains have been studied for certain therapeutic applications, generally it is best to make sure the probiotic you choose contains a variety of beneficial bacterial species from each of the three main probiotic types:

  • Lactobacillus
  • Bifidobacterium
  • Soil based organisms (SBOs)

Once you have zeroed in on a few brands that contain all of the above, be sure to note that the best probiotic supplement companies list on the bottle the genus (i.e. Lactobacillus) species (i.e. acidophilus) and strain (i.e. DDS-1) of each beneficial microbe included in the probiotic.

If the bacterial strains are not listed on the bottle, then a phone call to the company should at least be able to tell you what strains are in the probiotic. If the company doesn’t know or won’t tell you, best to choose another brand.

As an example, let’s look at the label of the probiotic brand Bio-Kult, considered to be in the “best probiotic supplement” category by many practitioners in the field of digestive wellness. My family has relied on Bio-Kult for many years with excellent results (where to find).

Bio-Kult Probiotic Blend

  • Soil Based Organisms (SBOs): Bacillus subtilis PXN 21
  • Bifidobacterium strains: Bifidobacterium bifidum PXN 23, Bifidobacterium breve PXN 25, Bifidobacterium infantis PXN 27, Bifidobacterium longum PXN 30,
  • Lactobacillus strains: Lactobacillus acidophilus PXN 35, Lactobacillus delbrueckii ssp. bulgaricus PXN 39, Lactobacillus casei PXN 37, Lactobacillus plantarum PXN 47, Lactobacillus rhamnosus PXN 54, Lactobacillus helveticus PXN 45, Lactobacillus salivarius PXN 57
  • Other strains: Streptococcus thermophilus PXN 66, Lactococcus lactis ssp. lactis PXN 63

Based on the label, Bio-Kult contains all the main probiotic types and labels them appropriately.  As a result, it is a quality brand to be considered within the category of best probiotic supplements (see more brands listed below).

Do the Best Probiotic Supplements Need Refrigeration?

According to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride MD, the best probiotic supplements do not need to be refrigerated and can be stored at room temperature.  This means that the bacterial strains are hardy, the product is high quality and can withstand the warmth and enzymatic activity of the digestive process and remain intact to do its job properly in the gut.

How Much Probiotic to Take

When working on a health issue it is important to work up to a therapeutic dose. Based on age, a therapeutic dose would consist of the following:

  • Infant up to 12 months – 1-2 billion of bacterial cells per day
  • Toddler from 1 to 2 years – 2-4 billion of bacterial cells per day
  • Child from 2 to 4 years – 4-8 billion of bacterial cells per day
  • Child from 4 to 10 years – 8-12 billion of bacterial cells per day
  • Child from 12 to 16 years – 12-15 billion per day
  • Adults should have around 15-20 billion of bacterial cells per day

To refer back to our previous example, Bio-Kult contains 2 billion microorganisms per capsule. So, using the guidelines above, an adult would need approximately 8 – 10 capsules per day (split into a morning and evening dose) for therapeutic levels to be reached.

A therapeutic dose should be maintained for an average of 6 months to overtake harmful microbes and reestablish beneficial microbes.

Following a clean, whole foods diet is essential during this time.  If you continue feeding your pathogens in the gut with sugar and processed carbohydrates then the probiotics will not have much chance of helping you.

After six months it’s beneficial to reduce to a maintenance dose of probiotics and/or consume fermented foods daily.  A maintenance dose would be half the therapeutic amount.  After completion of a course of antibiotics, the maintenance dose should be continued for at least 2 weeks.

The Best Probiotic Supplements are Helpful While Traveling

It is a good idea to take a probiotic when traveling as it is protective of pathogens in an unfamiliar environment that you may come into contact with. For example, 1-2 capsules of BioKult is recommended twice daily for 1 week prior to traveling.  During travel, 2 capsules twice a day is recommended and this should be continued for at least 1 week after arriving back home.

For detailed information on using probiotics while traveling to help keep you well, click here.

Help! My Probiotic is Making Me Sick!

Whenever you introduce a healing food or supplement it is possible to experience a die-off reaction. Pathogens are being eliminated and releasing their toxins, which can make you feel miserable if it happens to too quickly. Die-off symptoms can include:

  • Feeling bad
  • Headaches
  • Bloating and digestive distress in general
  • Skin eruptions and rashes
  • Lacking energy
  • More difficulty dealing with stress than usual
  • Mood swings & difficulty concentrating
  • Any other symptoms typical for you
  • For children this can also show up as bedwetting, moodiness, tiredness, restlessness and any other symptoms typical to your child

Know that die-off symptoms mean the probiotic is working, so feel good about that!  Introducing the probiotic slowly and increasing incrementally every few days to a week is a good practice.

When my Mom first started taking a probiotic several years ago, she could only handle 1/8 of a capsule per day at first.  She worked her way up slowly to the required dosage over a period of about 6 months. Learning to minimize die-off symptoms is extremely important so you can stay the course to resolve gut imbalance issues.

For an article that discusses how to resolve die-off symptoms, click here.

The Best Probiotic Supplement Brands

Here are a handful of good brands to investigate as you get started on your probiotic selection journey:

I hope you find this information helpful in assisting you to source the best probiotic supplement possible for the health of your family!

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist


More Information

How to Prepare the Birth Canal for the Probiotic Gulp

How Prebiotics Benefit Gut Health

Taking Probiotics  for Maximum Benefit

Comments (52)

  • Sebastian

    I’d recommend going with a probiotic that also includes a prebiotic – preferably one that isn’t sugar based. There are a lot of decent options out there, but I only found one capsule product that was USDA Organic, vegan and a capsule (so it doesn’t taste bad). I take it every day now and have had no problems with getting sick, and am much more regular now.

    May 10th, 2016 11:35 am Reply
  • Dashi

    I have a question please. Grateful if you can help with the answer.
    I am 50 years old and someone bought for me Super Advanced Adult Probiotic – 55 and over.
    My question is: Can I take them even though I am not over 55 years old?
    Thank you very much for your advice.

    April 8th, 2016 8:16 am Reply
  • G

    Was just wondering where you got your information from?
    Where is the “therapeutic dose” compared to a “maintenance” derived from?
    Thanks…was just hoping to clarify for my own purposes

    March 30th, 2016 10:21 pm Reply
    • Margaret Cachia

      I’m always at a loss with these probiotics and a doctor recomanded the fos type Now I have candida and eczema so could you help me please and recomand which one is good for me .. If you could name the best multivitamin it would be a great help as well.

      June 21st, 2016 9:26 am Reply
  • pam


    i like iFlora mult-ipupose (16 strands, 32 billion) (also comes in powder form)

    i may try BioKult
    don’t like Swanson SBO (give me cramps)


    November 26th, 2015 5:55 pm Reply
  • Scott

    Great article on how to narrow down which supplement brand is right for probiotics. I have a close friend of mine who took a supplement too that she swore up and down worked extremely well for her. I wanted to see if it was listed on a few forums before I considered buying a bottle myself. Still leaning towards her recommendation since this one has all of the essential ingredients that you mentioned.

    June 16th, 2015 6:21 pm Reply
  • David Wood

    Very interesting indeed!

    Can you point to some kind of source information for the age related dosages you state? I’ve never seen anything like that after quite extensive reading on this subject.

    I’m not questioning that it makes sense – I’d just like to know what the doses are based on.

    June 9th, 2015 3:59 am Reply
  • Total Flora

    It’s hard to determine how many probiotic pills to take every day. I’ve noticed a flattened effect from the pills I’ve been taking. At first they had a profound effect on my bowel movements and now the bowel movements are nearly back to normal. I’ve increased the number of pills with each meal to compensate. At first I only took 2 pills in the morning and now I’m up to 3 pills in the morning with 2 more at lunch. This allegedly puts me in the 70 billion range.

    My suspicion is that the quality of the bacteria degrade faster than advertised. As such, you end up having to take more toward the end of a cycle than toward the beginning.

    I’ll try another brand when it’s time to order some more probiotics and see what the difference is.

    May 20th, 2015 10:57 am Reply
  • Crystal

    Can I please see your citations?

    May 12th, 2015 3:40 pm Reply
  • Heathar

    This article was awesome. Thanks so much for sharing. I am putting together a cookbook and nourishing foods based program to help people heal their gut and this was awesome to read. Thank you!!

    May 11th, 2015 9:13 pm Reply
  • Jacob adom

    There are a lot of probiotic supplements out there. I think the best are those the constitution of which is based on a scientific analysis of what strains of bacteria work for which maladies. Quality Nature is one such brand that seems to know what it’s doing.

    March 18th, 2015 8:21 am Reply
  • May T.

    Hi Srah,

    I was wondering if you have any opinion on Advanced Naturals Ultimate FloraMax 30 Billion.
    You mentioned that adults need between 15 and 20 billion cells per day. Do you think 30 billion
    is too much, or is there no such thing?

    March 11th, 2015 8:12 pm Reply
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  • christine

    Sarah, this article is SO helpful! Question: If I have young children who cannot swallow capsules, should I open up a capsules and mix it with water for them? Or do you have another suggestion? Please advise! thanks so much!

    September 25th, 2014 10:56 am Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Yes, that’s fine :)

      September 25th, 2014 11:30 am Reply
  • andi

    I have seen several articles about the dangers of using probiotics that contain SBOs. (I can send links if you haven’t seen them). I’m concerned to attempt using them because of this, especially in the middle of a crohn’s flair. Do you have any insight to these concerns?

    September 24th, 2014 12:47 am Reply
  • Bianca

    Thank you for the article! Should probiotics be taken on an empty stomach or with food? The directions never seem to say.

    June 28th, 2014 11:19 pm Reply
    • Bob

      I just asked my doctor that same question. He said it didn’t matter. Bob

      September 12th, 2014 12:22 am Reply
  • Cathy

    We have always had good results using G of L brand in powder or caplets,but see that it isnt included in your favs. Is Bio kult better? And are the strains live even tho not refrigerated etc?

    June 12th, 2014 10:25 am Reply
  • Tina B

    What probiotic do you recommend for infants? Do you recommend opening the capsules of one of these brands and shaking the powder into baby food?

    June 12th, 2014 6:07 am Reply
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  • Gerry Adcock

    Sarah, your article on probiotics is the best I have read on the subject. I now have some great information to begin my use. You are such a wonderful person to have leading my medical team!!!

    You are the best, and I know you have helped me already.

    Kindest regards

    June 1st, 2014 7:48 pm Reply
  • Faith C Borbee via Facebook

    Probiotics worked for me, I’m luck to have found a good product the first time I tried.

    May 31st, 2014 2:24 pm Reply
  • Danette Rieckhoff via Facebook

    Interesting timing. Thank you.

    May 31st, 2014 1:50 pm Reply
  • Sally Streater Massey via Facebook

    Thank you for posting this, we’ve been taking Biokult, but I’ve been wondering if we should switch it up for a while.

    May 31st, 2014 12:22 pm Reply
  • Tonya Scarborough via Facebook

    Thank you for this timely post, just started GAPS a few weeks ago.

    May 31st, 2014 11:35 am Reply
  • Kay

    Do you recommend any of these probiotics for the GAPS diet, or should I stick with BioKult?

    May 28th, 2014 6:41 pm Reply
  • Kari

    Do you have a suggestion for a chewable children’s probiotic?

    May 28th, 2014 4:29 pm Reply
  • David Fyhrie

    An extremely effective way to assist in eliminating pathogens in the gut is to take Immunoglobulin Y (which is antibodies found in egg yolk). Unfortunately many antibodies get destroyed when you heat the egg yolk, or they are digested in the stomach because of the significant amount of other proteins when the egg is eaten. However there is now a unique new product out called Vector450 which is purified Immunoglobulin Y. IGY Life Sciences has developed the processes for extraction and purification of Immunoglobulin Y and put it in a capsule form. When taken on an empty stomach with water then the antibodies can can quickly go to the small intestines. There they bind to pathogens (bad bacteria, viruses, fungi and even parasites). There are no known side effects unless you are allergic to ovotransferrin which is an ingredient that comes from the egg white and acts as a preservative for the Immunglobulin Y.
    Our research is showing significant benefits to optimizing the immune system by taking Vector450. Many people report much less allergies, less sickness, improved recovery after athletic efforts, higher energy levels and fewer symptoms from autoimmune issues.. It is also very affordable at $30-35 per month. Try it, you’ll like it!

    May 28th, 2014 10:42 am Reply
  • Lori

    I am very picky about anything I take being organic or at least Non GMO and this product contains maltodextrin which comes from corn and it doesn’t say Non GMO, so no thanks!

    May 28th, 2014 9:35 am Reply
    • Becky

      BioKult is made in the United Kingdom where GMO corn is banned. I’m pretty sure this product is safe.

      November 11th, 2014 11:18 pm Reply
  • Domagoj

    Hi, dr. Cowan recommends Bravo probiotics as most lasting. Ever heard of that?

    May 28th, 2014 2:07 am Reply
  • Tricia

    Dr. Mercola premium supplements “Complete Probiotics” Has 70 billion CFU per 2 capsule serving. Has 10 strains, including all the ones mentioned above, and in the same order.

    May 27th, 2014 10:08 pm Reply
  • Richard

    Wondering what your thoughts are on VSL #3. It is listed as the probiotic used in several studies. Look forward to your comments

    May 27th, 2014 8:53 pm Reply
  • Richard

    I am wondering what your thoughts are regarding VSL # 3. It is cited as the probiotic use in various studies. I have use it for a while but have not noticed any appreciable change. Look forward to your comment

    May 27th, 2014 8:45 pm Reply
  • Emily Streich via Facebook

    Klaire labs should have been on the list….

    May 27th, 2014 7:01 pm Reply
  • Judith Runion via Facebook

    a tablespoon of sauerkraut every morning works fine for me …

    May 27th, 2014 6:46 pm Reply
  • Evan Claassic Jerkunica via Facebook

    May 27th, 2014 2:37 pm Reply
  • Jerian

    The link for gut pro takes you to hyperbiotic on Amazon? Is it the same or similar? Thank you

    May 27th, 2014 2:32 pm Reply
  • Pamela Fife via Facebook

    Why take a pill when you eat cultured veggies and drink probiotics? doesn’t make since to me

    May 27th, 2014 1:34 pm Reply
  • Ceuson

    I had a healing reaction with Bio-Kult. A few years ago I had a crown put on my molar and I knew at the time they missed a bit of decay. The dentist checked, couldn’t find anything and the pain subsided, so since I dreaded further dental work, I let it be. Besides, my tooth reacted when I ate too many carbs and sugars and I liked having a monitor for keeping my bad habits in check. (That is how one gets a crown in the first place)

    Within a week of taking Bio-Kult my bite was off kilter. I took a couple days to realize the crown had lifted and my upper tooth was smacking into it. The swelling subsided within a week, but a tingle began to creep toward the front of my jaw, which eventually became an itch. In the bone. Like Sarah says, if things happen, you know the stuff is working. I had no idea the infection was bigger than the one molar. Maybe it is also related to some gum recession.

    I did cut my dose in half for a while because the reaction was distracting. A month later when I resumed two pills a day I had no problems. I never did 8 – 10 capsules but I think I want to try it and see how my body responds.

    May 27th, 2014 1:24 pm Reply
  • Rosalyn


    Have you any knowledge of the Natren probiotics?

    May 27th, 2014 12:10 pm Reply
  • Vivi Sinaga via Facebook

    Im from indonesia,, we have kefir community, and nowadays colostrum kefir is happening here 😉

    May 27th, 2014 11:52 am Reply
  • Catherine Berger via Facebook

    Ever hear of: They are alive and never freeze dried. Check them out and let me know what you think, I would be interested to hear your thoughts.

    May 27th, 2014 11:50 am Reply
    • Laura Bennett

      I love Dr. Ohhira! Only probiotics that I found that have actual fermented veggies in them…

      May 30th, 2014 11:53 am Reply
      • Brydie

        I’ve been taking Dr Ohhira’s and it has made me very constipated.. I believe in his products because I believe in Dr Kaufman …. Know the Cause…
        I only have been taking 1 a day since I’m sharing the box with my husband.
        I though maybe I should try 2 a day…

        June 1st, 2014 2:05 am Reply
  • Linda

    Would a probiotic with all three strains mentioned above be allergen free? I can’t do gluten dairy, soy, eggs.

    May 27th, 2014 11:31 am Reply
    • Dan Corrrigan

      GutPro powder is listed in this blog post, but unfortunately it is not sold on Amazon (so the Amazon link goes to the wrong product). It is only sold to practitioners and directly to consumers on There is also an Infant version of the formula. It is free of gluten, dairy, soy and corn (and does not contain inulin, maltodextrin or cellulose).

      May 28th, 2014 9:42 am Reply
  • Michelle Karwatt Anstadt via Facebook

    Question…..there is no way I can afford to take 6 a day, would it benefit me at all if I only took 2a day, we are on a completely organic diet, organic and GMO free. I’ve been taking another brand, but have seen this one and wondered about it, so I was needless to say thrilled with this post.

    May 27th, 2014 10:56 am Reply
  • Rose

    I’ve recently begun making and drinking kefir. I prefer to ‘make’ my own probiotics if possible, for the lack of factory origin and for cost.

    How do home-grown probiotics differ from laboratory-originated probiotics? Is one more effective than the other? Is home-grown alone enough to correct issues?

    May 26th, 2014 1:41 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Ferments from home can vary quite a bit in the probiotic content. Kefir, for example, can be very strong or quite mild depending how long it was fermented on the counter before refrigerating. The nice thing about a supplement is that you know exactly how many billions of bacteria you are consuming per day to get a therapeutic dose. This is important if gut healing is the goal particularly if you are on GAPS. It’s totally up to you either way, but making your own kefir is wonderful and even if you choose to take a probiotic, don’t stop doing that!

      May 27th, 2014 7:11 am Reply

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