Best Probiotics for Women

best Probiotics For WomenWhen my daughter first started daycare, she was constantly getting sick. This was to be expected as leaving the confines of home, she needed to build up her immature immune system. Desperate to speed up the process, I stocked up on vitamins and a probiotic.

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are living organisms that have a variety of health benefits if you take them in adequate amounts [1]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4045285/.

As women, we tend to look after everyone else’s welfare before ours. However, we need to take care of ourselves too! One of those ways may be by taking a probiotic.

What are the best probiotics for women?

Well read on, to find out! The table below is a summarised version of the probiotics reviewed.

Here is a quick video on the importance of gut health to get you started

Your gut contains good bacteria that play many important roles including making vitamins and amino acids (building blocks of proteins), preventing the build-up of bad bacteria, maturing and keep your immune system in balance, and helping with brain health. [2]https://genomemedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13073-016-0300-5.

When your good bacteria are over-run by bad bacteria, you may be more at risk of getting colon cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes, and may even gain weight [3]https://genomemedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13073-016-0300-5.

One way that you can get the good bacteria back in balance is by taking a probiotic.

Some Benefits of Probiotics For Women

Some Benefits of Probiotics For Women

Probiotics may improve the health of your gut

Probiotics are best known for gut-promoting health benefits.

They help heal diarrhea caused by infections, antibiotic-related diarrhea, and can even improve the breakdown of lactose in lactose-intolerant people like me. They may even helpful if you have inflammatory bowel disease (inflammation of the colon) [4]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4045285/.

One study found that children in daycare (do you see a common theme here with kids in daycare getting sick?) who took a yogurt product with probiotics had less severe diarrhea than those who didn’t [5]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10665128.

Probiotics may reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer

Aside from gut-promoting benefits, probiotics may reduce your risk of heart disease and even prevent cancer [6]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4045285/.

How can probiotics do this?

Research has shown that Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium lower the number of cancer-causing enzymes produced in your gut by keeping the bad bacteria away. They also produce acids which kill cancer cells. Probiotics reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering your cholesterol and reducing your blood pressure [7]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4045285/.

Probiotics may boost your immune system

In a laboratory study conducted by researchers to see whether Lactobacillus acidophilus could boost the immune system, researchers found that it helped improve the effectiveness of a vaccine.

This led researchers to conclude that probiotics “may be a safe way to increase the effectiveness of rotavirus (most common cause of severe dehydrating diarrhea in children) vaccine in humans”[8]https://nccih.nih.gov/research/results/spotlight/110508.htm.

Probiotics may also be helpful for other immune conditions such as allergies, eczema and viral infections [9]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4006993/.

Probiotics may heal your urinary tract and yeast infections

Probably of one of the common uses for probiotics for us women is to treat urinary tract infections (UTIs) and yeast infections.

Women are more likely to get UTIs than men. As many as 50% of women get a UTI. If you are one of the unlucky ones, you will have recurring UTIs [10]https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urinary-tract-infection/symptoms-causes/syc-20353447, [11]https://www.webmd.com/women/guide/your-guide-urinary-tract-infections#1.

If you tend to get UTIs, your doctor will probably put you on daily antibiotics to prevent your UTI from occurring again. However, some of the antibiotics may not work because the bacteria that cause UTIs may have built up resistance to them.

Also, antibiotics  have various side effects including killing good bacteria in your body [12]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1479479/.

Lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and L. reuteri RC-14 (previously called L. fermentum RC-14) can help treat your UTIs [13]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1479479/.

Do you get yeast infections? I got one with my first pregnancy. Yeast infections are another “woman’s issue” that probiotics can help with. Research has shown that L rhamnosus GR-1 and Lactobacillus reuteri (formerly fermentum) B-54 and RC-14 can help restore lactobacilli (good bacteria in the vagina) and reduce infections in more than 50% of women who use them on a daily basis [14]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1479479/.

How Probiotics For Women Work

Probiotics might work by keeping your good bacteria up, competing with bad bacteria, improving your immune response, producing substances such as acids that prevent yeast from growing, and helping restore the balance of good bacteria which have been destroyed because of disease or antibiotics [15]https://nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics/introduction.htm.

Things to look for when choosing the right probiotic for yourself

  • The right probiotic for you will depend on what conditions you are looking to prevent or treat. Not all probiotics are the same. For instance, if one type of Lactobacillus helps lower your blood pressure, it does not mean another type of Lactobacillus will do the same [16]https://nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics/introduction.htm.The table below lists some strains of bacteria to look for when treating various conditions [17] https://nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics/introduction.htm.
Strain Uses
L. Acidophilus
  • Digestive health
  • Blood pressure and cholesterol control
  • Improves infant conditions such as prevention of diarrhea
  • Reduces allergy symptoms
  • Effective against viral, bacterial and fungal infections [18]http://probiotics.org/l-acidohilus-benefits/
L.Rhamnosus
  • Diabetic health
  • Improves immune health
  • Reduces allergies and inflammation
  • Infant and baby health e.g. decreases colic
  • Cancer prevention and treatment
  • Digestive health
  • Cholesterol lowering effect
  • Urinary tract and vaginal health [19]http://probiotics.org/lactobacillus-gg-benefits/
L. Plantarum
  • Digestive health
  • Immune support
  • Overall health support [20]http://probiotics.org/l-plantarum/
L. Casei
  • Digestive health
  • Immune support
  • Allergy reduction
  • Cholesterol lowering effects[21]http://probiotics.org/l-casei/
L. reuteri                                                                                        
  • Vaginal health
  • Immune support
  • Digestive health [22]http://probiotics.org/l-reuteri/

This table is a quick cheat sheet of various probiotics that are helpful for common health concerns. For more detailed information visit these links http://probiotics.org/strains/, https://www.naspghan.org/files/documents/pdfs/position-papers/probiotics.pdf.

  • You also want to make sure that the number of bacteria, called colony forming units of CFUs is the same as the number shown in human studies to be effective for health benefits[23]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4045285/ — Now, does this mean you have to track down every study to find out the number of CFUs you should look for?  — No — The rule of thumb is that your probiotic should contain a minimum concentration of 106 CFU/mL or gram and you should consume 108 to 109 probiotic microorganisms a day to gain health benefits [24]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4045285/ — When I was studying to be a dietitian, I remember my amazement at learning that I may have been wasting my money on various yogurts that contained certain probiotics. According to my lecturers, some of these yogurts did not contain enough probiotics for health benefits!
  • According to an expert, another factor you want to consider when choosing a probiotic is the number of different strains that your probiotic supplement contains. Different strains of probiotic bacteria have varying functions providing more health benefits [25]https://www.drdavidwilliams.com/how-to-choose-the-best-probiotic-supplement.
  • How the probiotic is packaged and delivered is also important. If your probiotic need to be stored in a cool place but is packed in a heat-attracting package or delivered non-refrigerated, the bacteria may be dead by the time they reach your door.
  • You also want to see an expiry date. The expiry date helps you know how long your probiotic will remain effective [26]https://www.drdavidwilliams.com/how-to-choose-the-best-probiotic-supplement.

Best Way to Use Probiotics

It can be very confusing to know how to take probiotics.

Some manufacturers say to take the before meals, some during or after meals, and some say on an empty stomach.

What does the science say?..

A study found that non-enteric coated probiotic capsules (capsules that dissolves in the stomach) were best taken just before or during a meal, preferably a fat containing meal so that the bacteria would survive as they pass along the digestive tract [27]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22146689.

What does this mean for you?

If your probiotic supplement comes in a non-enteric coated capsule form, take it just before or during a meal containing fat. One way you can ensure that you are taking the capsule with fat is to take it with 1% (not skim) milk.

Contraindications to Using Probiotics

Probiotics are quite safe to use if you are healthy.

If you do experience any side effects, it is usually gas or slight abdominal pain. However, very sick infants, children with short gut syndrome (missing functional small intestine), those who are critically ill, have had surgery, or have a weakened immune system may have serious side effects such as a dangerous infection [28]http://www.aafp.org/afp/2008/1101/p1073.html, [29]https://nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics/introduction.htm.

The Best Probiotics For Women We Reviewed

Garden of Life Raw Probiotics

This product contains 85 billion CFU per serving and 32 strains of bacteria.

It also contains prebiotics, and strains of bacteria shown to be beneficial to improve lactose intolerance. In addition, there are added vitamins and minerals to further boost your health.

Serving size of 3 capsules.

What we like
  • This product contains 85 billion CFU per serving which is great because such a huge amount of probiotics may be useful in repopulating your gut if you have taken a lot of antibiotics which wipe out your gut bacteria.
  • Another good feature is the variety of strains of bacteria, 32 in all, which makes it more effective because more strains of bacteria provides more health benefits. This might be important if you are not only looking at improving your vaginal health, but your overall health as well.
  • Additionally, this product contains L. acidophilus, L.bulgaricus, S. thermophilus and B. longum which studies show can help improve your lactose intolerance [30]https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01593800. This would have been really useful several years ago when I realized that I was not getting the recommended amount of dairy for bone health. I tried adding more milk to my diet and found out that if I drank more than one glass of milk a day, I had diarrhea.
  • Furthermore, this product contains prebiotics, which are fibers that feed your good bacteria.
  • This product also contains added vitamins and minerals. This is my favourite feature because vitamins and minerals work hand in hand to maintain good overall health and it is convenient to have them combined with probiotics.
  • I was particularly impressed that this product provides 125% of your daily vitamin D needs. I really appreciate that feature because research shows that vitamin D may have a protective role in colon cancer prevention, and given my strong family history of colon cancer, I need more vitamin D in my diet.
  • This product also has the right type of bacterial strains that may treat urinary tract and vaginal issues.
What we don't like
  • This product contains dairy, making it unsuitable if you have a milk allergy.
  • Additionally, the serving size is 3 capsules, which you may find inconvenient.
  • Also, the product must be shipped cold or else the bacteria may die, making the product useless.

Renew Life- Ultimate Flora Probiotic Women’s Care

This product contains 50 billion CFU per serving and 10 strains of bacteria.

It features a delayed release time capsule which protects the bacterial strains from the acid in your stomach.

Serving size of 1 capsule.

Dairy-free.

What we like
  • This product contains a good amount of live cultures per capsule; 50 CFU, which may be beneficial for wide-scale repopulation of your gut.
  • Additionally, one serving is only one capsule which I find convenient for my busy life, and you may too.
  • My favourite feature of this product is that the capsule is a delayed release time capsule which is great because the bacteria are protected from being destroyed by the gastric acid in your stomach.
  • Also, this product is dairy-free, making it suitable if you have a dairy allergy.
What we don't like
  • This product does not contain L. reuteri, one of the most potent bacterial strains that fight urinary tract infections.  [31]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16827601. As a result, you may have sub-optimal results if you are trying to use it to fight a urinary tract infection.
  • This product only contains ten strains of bacteria, so may not be suitable for overall health.
  • Also, the product must be shipped cold or else the bacteria may die, making the product useless.

PRO-Women: Probiotics for Women with Cranberry Extract and Naturally Occurring D-Mannose

This product contains 5 billion CFU per serving and 6 strains of bacteria.

It features a delayed release time capsule which protects the bacterial strains from the acid in your stomach. Withstands extreme heat for up to 7 days or longer if seals are intact. Contains cranberry extract and D-mannose for urinary tract health.

Serving size of 1 capsule.

Contains casein.

What we like
  • The capsule is a delayed release time capsule which is great because the bacteria are protected from being destroyed by the gastric acid in your stomach.
  • Also, one serving is only one capsule which I find convenient for my busy life, and you may too.
  • Also, this product contains cranberry extract and D-mannose, which may provide additional help for urinary tract infections. This feature may have come in handy when I was a dietetic intern treating a patient with a urinary tract infection.
  • My favourite feature by far is that the product is only susceptible to extreme heat and humidity once the bottle has been opened  therefore you do not have to worry about shipping issues. According to the manufacturer, the “product can withstand extreme heat for up to 7 days or longer if seals are intact”.
  • Another great feature is that it has two of the most potent bacterial strains that fight urinary-tract infections; L. rhamnosus and L. reuteri, which may be beneficial for treating your urinary tract infections [32]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16827601.
  • This product contains 5 billion CFU, which may look like a con on the surface. However, up to 15 times more of the bacterial strains survive the acidity of your stomach than a conventional capsule. So, the “real CFU” may be closer to 75 billion CFU.
What we don't like
  • This product has less strains of bacteria than some other brands. It only contains six, which may be less effective for overall health if that is what you want from your probiotic.
  • Also, the pills are large, chalky and have a rough exterior so you may have a harder time swallowing them.
  • This product also contains casein, therefore if you have a milk allergy you may not be able to use these pills.

Sedona Labs Iflora Probiotic for Women Capsules

This product contains 30 billion CFU per serving and 6 strains of bacteria.

Contains short chain fructo-oligosaccharide prebiotics beneficial for magnesium absorption.

Serving size of 2 capsules.

What we like
  • The capsule is small which is great because it is easier to swallow. I really appreciate that feature considering I hate big pills. In the past, I have taken a great prenatal vitamin, but did not like the fact that the pills were big.
  • This product also contains short chain fructo-oligosaccharide prebiotics, which increase the absorption of magnesium, an important mineral for healthy bones [33]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12408453. This is my favorite feature because I want to avoid osteoporosis (weak bones) when I get older.
What we don't like
  • The serving size is 2 capsules which you may find inconvenient.
  • Also, the product must be shipped cold or else the bacteria may die, making the product useless.
  • Additionally, the product contains only 30 billion CFU; half the count of some other probiotic supplements.
  • In addition, the product contains only 6 strains of bacteria, so may not be suitable for overall health.
  • Furthermore this product does not contain L. reuteri, one of the most potent bacterial strains that fight urinary tract infections.  [34]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16827601. As a result, you may have sub-optimal results if you are trying to use it to fight a urinary tract infection.

NatureWise Women’s Probiotic with Cranberry & D-Mannose

This product contains 6 billion CFU per serving and 8 strains of bacteria.

It features a delayed release time capsule which protects the bacterial strains from the acid in your stomach. Contains cranberry extract and D-mannose for urinary tract health.

Serving size of 1 caplet.

What we like
  • The caplet is a delayed release time caplet which is great because the bacteria are protected from being destroyed by the gastric acid in your stomach.
  • Also, one serving is only one caplet which I find convenient for my busy life, and you may too.
  • The caplet is small, but you can also cut it in half if you need to.
  • Also, this product contains cranberry extract and D-mannose, which may provide additional help for urinary tract infections. This feature may have come in handy when I was a dietetic intern treating a patient with a urinary tract infection.
  • This product only contains 6 billion CFU, which may look like a con on the surface. However, up to 15 times more of the bacterial strains survive the acidity of your stomach than a conventional capsule. So, the “real CFU” is actually 90 billion CFU.
What we don't like
  • This product has less strains of bacteria than some other brands. It only contains eight, which may be less effective for overall health if that is what you want from your probiotic.
  • The product is a chalky pill, making it harder to swallow.
  • This product does not contain not contain L. rhamnosus, one of the most potent bacterial strains that fight urinary tract infections [35]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16827601. As a result, you may have sub-optimal results if you are trying to use it to fight a urinary tract infection.
  • Consumers have noted expired products or close to expired products when shipped to them which would render them ineffective for maximum benefits.

Probiotics for Women Supplement from Natural Riches

This product contains 15 billion CFU per serving and 1 strain of bacteria.

It also contains a prebiotic and features dicalcium phosphate, which is beneficial for bone health.

Serving size of 1 tablet.

What we like
  • You only need to take one tablet a day, which is convenient.
  • Also, the product contains a prebiotic which helps feed your good bacteria.
  • Additionally, it contains dicalcium phosphate which is beneficial for calcium absorption and bone health.
What we don't like
  • The tablets are big and hard, which you make find hard to swallow
  • In addition, the product only contains 15 billion CFU per serving, much lower than other products.
  • Only 1 strain of probiotic is listed on the ingredient list; Bacillus Coagulans. The lack of variety may make it not suitable for general overall health.

CONCLUSION

And the winner here is Garden of Life Raw Probiotics!

Garden of Life - RAW Probiotics Women - Acidophilus and Bifidobacteria Probiotic-Created Vitamins, Minerals, Enzymes, and Prebiotics - Gluten Free - 90 Vegetarian Capsules

It combines a range of benefits in one product. It has a great CFU count and has the widest variety of strains of bacteria, making it more suitable for overall health.

At the same time, it also provides the right type of bacteria that studies have shown to be beneficial for urinary tract and vaginal health.

It contains prebiotics, the right type of bacteria to relieve lactose intolerance, and has added vitamins and minerals.

Last update on 2018-05-19 / Affiliate links / Images & Stars from Amazon Product Advertising API

References   [ + ]

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Heather Carson

Heather Carson

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