Probiotics are infection-fighting bacteria naturally found in the gut, skin, lungs, urinary tract, vagina, and mouth. Unfortunately, bad bacteria tend to overwhelm good bacteria, increasing the risks of infections in women. Dallas Morning News analyzes the best Probiotics for women and how to choose them.
The 3 tips for finding the best probiotics for women include checking probiotic strains and CFU count, the intended use, and third-party certification. While probiotic supplements are great, some are better quality and ideal for women.
You’ll get the best women’s probiotics with maximum benefits when you know what you need.
- Probiotic Strains And CFU Count
One of the primary considerations for the best women’s probiotics is looking at the probiotic strains. Each strain has a specific function. Some probiotics contain single probiotic strains, while others have multiple strains.
Probiotics are divided into two main genera.
Probiotic strains that fall under this category;
- Support the immune system.
- Prevent the growth of bad bacteria in the intestines.
- Break down lactose.
Probiotics that fall under this genus have the abbreviation “B”. For example, B. acidophilus.
This genus comprises probiotic strains that produce the enzyme lactase, which breaks down lactose. Lactobacillus also;
- Produces lactic acid to control the growth of bad bacteria.
- Increases the absorption of minerals.
- Works as fuel for the muscles.
Probiotic strains that fall under this genus are in the mouth, vagina, and small intestine.
The probiotics under this genus have the abbreviation “L” before their name. For example, L. reuteri.
Species of Probiotics
Probiotics have six main species.
|B. animalis||Yogurt||Aids in digestion.Fights food-borne bacteria.Boosts the immune system.|
|B. breve||Found in the digestive tract and vagina.||Fights yeast infections.Helps absorb fermenting sugars. Makes plant fiber more digestible.|
|B. lactis||Raw milk, buttermilk, and cheese.||Produces lactic acid.Breaks down food.Absorbs nutrients.Fights off disease-causing bacteria.|
|B. longum||Gastrointestinal tract.||It’s an antioxidant.Breaks down carbohydrates.|
|L. acidophilus||Small intestines and vagina.
Found in yogurt and soy products.
|Aids with digestion.Fights vaginal infections.|
|L. reuteri||Intestines and mouth.||Aids with digestion.Prevents tooth decay.|
Once you have identified the probiotic strains you need, you should proceed and confirm the colony-forming units (CFU) count. The CFU count refers to the number of live bacteria in the probiotic dietary supplement.
Most supplements offer 1-100 billion CFU per serving. The higher the CFU count, the better.
- Third-Party Certification
Dietary supplements like probiotics do not undergo the same scrutiny as medicines. This is why you find different qualities and must research the best women’s probiotics.
When looking for probiotics, you’ll discover some that have undergone third-party testing and certification.
This means that an independent lab or organization has verified the probiotic’s strength, quality, and safety. This is basically a confirmation that the product is exactly what the manufacturer claims it to be.
- The Intended Use
Before buying probiotics, you need to know why you are doing it. Probiotics address different issues in the body, depending on the strain composition. For example, some are formulated to support immunity, reproductive health, or aid in digestion.
Some probiotics for women are made up of multiple bacteria strains, making them multi-functional, while others have single strains targeting a specific function. If you have no specific reason for taking probiotics, select one with multiple strains for maximum benefits.
However, if you are struggling with specific health issues, such as vaginal infections, it may be best to get probiotics targeting your health concerns. For example, probiotics containing L.rhamnosus, L.brevis, and L.acidophilus strains are essential for treating bacterial vaginosis infections.
These are the main ways to ensure you get the best women’s probiotics. Other considerations include the following;
- Storage. Some probiotics are shelf-stable, while others contain strains that can only survive when refrigerated.
- Whether the probiotics support your dietary needs or not. For example, some are gluten-free and vegan-friendly, while others are not. Some probiotics contain gelatin, making them unsuitable for vegetarians, vegans, or people who wish to limit the consumption of animal products.
- The presence of prebiotics. These may be unsuitable for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- Certification by a sports body that the probiotics do not contain performance enhancement substances. This is critical for women in competitive sports.
Once you know what to look for in probiotics, you will always get the best. However, the best has to align with your health needs. It is important to remember that no two microbiomes are identical. One probiotic may work for you and fail for another person. Sometimes, it is trial and error until you get the perfect fit.