It is an unfortunate fact that quality supplements are hard time find these days; this is especially true if you buy your supplements over the counter at major retailers. The issue is that the supplement industry is self-regulated (i.e., there are no industry wide standards for quality, quality control or verification); this leads to a market flooded with poor quality products.
All supplements say they are of the “highest quality”, but very few back that up with testing and research. Watchdog groups like ConsumerLab.com often pull products off the shelf and check them to see if they meet label claim. A recent ConsumerLab.com report showed that many probiotic products contain only a fraction of the probiotic organisms they claim.
This review showed that out of 19 probiotic supplements for humans, five contained only 16-56% of the listed amounts of the organisms. The worst offenders were from 21st Century, Vitacost, Accuflora, Nature’s Answer and Nature’s Plus.
In addition, most probiotics sold over the counter don’t contain the right type and/or amount of organisms for specific conditions, such as IBS, IBD, heartburn and acne. Without doing some serious homework, it is very unlikely the consumer can get what they are looking for.
Consumerlab.com found products listing anywhere from one to more than 30 different strains of Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Streptococcus or Saccharomyces (a yeast). The quantity of organisms in products for humans ranged from 100 million to more than 900 billion in a daily dose, a difference of nearly 900,000%!
More strains aren’t necessarily better, especially if they haven’t been studied and/or are not a normal part of a person’s health gut flora. In addition, it takes a LOT of viable probiotic to influence most health conditions, and many probiotics simply don’t contain enough viable organisms to help.
In order to find a quality product a person would need to do a LOT of research and/or depend on someone that has done this research. The research shows it may be quite difficult to find good quality products over the counter. Even if you work with a health care provider, ask them for the research showing the products you are buying contain what they claim. Your health depends on it.