Refrigerated Probiotics

Refrigerated Probiotics

Are you taking probiotic supplements that you bought online or in store? It’s important that you know which ones require refrigeration as temperature is critical to maintaining the viability of probiotic bacteria.

In this article we look at what makes probiotics so fragile; how you can insure their quality; and the best refrigerated probiotics brands.

In recent research, the contents of 20 probiotic brands were analysed and it was found that 20% of the products did not contain viable probiotic bacteria.1

This is the result of conditions that the probiotic bacteria can not survive in. Incorrect storage is one factor that can cause a loss of good bacteria – very often, the number of colony forming units in a product decreases over time.

Manufacturers factor this in when they set a “best by” date, and build the product with “overage.” If the product is labelled to contain 10 billion CFU, the original content will be 15 billion or more CFU to account for the large number of bacteria that will not be viable once the product is finally consumed.2

 

Compromised Probiotics

Here are the main factors that compromise the quality of probiotics and the loss of viable cultures over time of a typical LAB-based probiotic:

1. Manufacturing damage

The stability of a probiotic formula tested at the time of manufacture will depend on a combination of factors. Variations in packaging, temperature, and humidity will affect the viability of probiotic products before they are taken.

Protective factors that help to preserve the freshness and viability of the probiotic strains in a supplement include refrigeration, resistant packaging, and storage in a cool, dry place.

Heat is the main concern for the longevity of probiotics, because too much contact with heat will kill the delicate bacteria, whether the exposure is during manufacture or storage.

 

2. Warm temperatures

Temperature plays a role in the stability of probiotics. Colder air holds less moisture and is not in the ideal temperature range for the bacteria to commonly grow and thrive, thus inhibiting reactivation of the dormant organisms by depriving them of the warmth and moisture that represent their ideal growing conditions. High heat can also degrade the viability of these organisms.

Typically, maintaining storage temperatures below 2-3˚ celsius increases probiotic survival (specifically L. acidophilus and B. bifidum). At 29˚celsius, viability decreases 10-15% per month, and above 26˚ celsius, the loss is more than doubled.

While some companies use cold-temperature shipping, it’s hard to know if at the shop whether a particular brand of probiotic has been cold-shipped, or has been consistently stored in a temperature controlled environment.

 

3. Humidity and moisture

The problem with humidity and moisture is it activates bacteria and essentially starts the process of degradation, which is intended to occur after ingestion. Some manufacturers’ products are sealed at low humidity as they are manufactured, which results in a foil-packed probiotic product which is typically a better choice. However, when the product is opened, it is exposed to moisture from the air and the probiotic bacteria begin to deteriorate.

An alternative to factory protection for probiotics is the use of SBO probiotics such as Bacillus subtilis. These bacteria have naturally adapted to be resilient against both humidity and temperature through a protective organic shield which is not shed until the bacteria reaches its final destination.3

Top Rated Refrigerated Probiotics

It can be challenging to know that your probiotics have been stored and shipped properly. And, being able to keep them refrigerated when travelling, for example, is a challenge.

So, its worth finding out which are the best refrigerated probiotics, plus considering shelf-stable brands. Here are reviews of three of the top rated refrigerated probiotics brands, each with their own qualities.

Refrigerated Probiotics Reviews

Prescript-Assist

One of the best refrigerated probiotics, Prescript-Assist, is created to remain viable and stable despite the environmental temperature, whether refrigerated, frozen, or subjected to hot temperature water. It survives gastric acidity including stomach bile, enzyme and oxygen, and includes prebiotic support, nutrients that stimulate the proliferation of probiotic bacteria, increasing increases delivery (and proliferation) of viable probiotic bacteria. This product is supported by peer-reviewed, double-blind, placebo controlled human trial, as well as a one year study verifying long-term efficacy and safety.

 

VSL#3®

Another top rated refrigerated probiotic is VSL#3®. Evidence shows that VSL#3®, which is a probiotic blend of live, freeze-dried lactic acid bacteria and bifidobateria is beneficial for individuals with ulcerative colitis. There are 450 billion bacteria in each dose, which is the highest concentration currently available, consisting of a set ratio of the following eight probiotics: Bifidobacterium breve, Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium infantis, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus paracasei, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Streptococcus thermophilus.4

 

Garden of Life – RAW Probiotics Ultimate Care (30 Vcap®)

One of the best refrigerated probiotic brands on the market is Garden of Life. Best kept refrigerated, this excellent product has a very high potency, which is guaranteed until the product expiration date. It has a very broad spectrum of diverse probiotics strains, which makes it one of the most expensive. Cool or refrigerated transport and storage is required to maintain the 100 billion potency, and there is no stomach acid protection (so without refrigeration and stomach acid protection, only a small fraction of the 100 billion will likely reach the gut).

Shelf-stable probiotics (useful for travel)

When refrigeration is not possible, or you can’t guarantee the product has been kept in controlled temperatures, you may need to choose a shelf-stable probiotic.

Jarro-Dophilus EPS®

A good first-time probiotic that does not require refrigeration is Jarro-Dophilus EPS®. This product is a Stable-Dophilus® probiotic due to its shelf life stability at room temperature, and its enteric coating delivery system, which protects the beneficial probiotic strains while in transit through the stomach’s acidic environment. The delivery system ensures that a maximum number of viable cells are delivered into the intestinal tract, where they can fully exert their beneficial effects. The strains in Jarro-Dophilus EPS® are selected from the following 4 genera: Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Lactococcus and Pediococcus.

 

Useful links for Refrigerated Probiotics Information

 

  1. References
    1. “Growing Potential.” Nutritional Outlook. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 July 2015. Available at: http://www.nutritionaloutlook.com/article/growing-potential
  2. ‘Do Probiotics need to be refrigerated’ http://www.prescript-assist.com/intestinal-health/refrigerated-probiotics/
  3. ‘Do Probiotics need to be refrigerated’ http://www.prescript-assist.com/intestinal-health/refrigerated-probiotics/
  4. VSL#3® Product Review http://www.badgut.org/information-centre/product-reviews/vsl3/

Refrigerated Probiotic Brands

Why refrigerate probiotics? As with lots of other foodstuff, refrigeration is to keep the product fresher for longer. Most refrigerated probiotics are more convenient and provide better results.

When stored at the correct temperature, their probiotic potency remains intact. If they are kept out of the fridge, then the opposite is true. The probiotic potency then goes down with time and becomes less effective.

Keep in mind that when you buy probiotics from a store, you won’t know how long they have been out on the shelf. In some cases, they may have been on the shelf for many months. This could mean you end up buying an older and less effective product than you thought you were getting.

Because of this, it’s better to buy refrigerated probiotics. At least this way you know the products are safe and effective, and you don’t have to rely on the word of the sales person. There are now a few shelf-stable probiotics available, which we will look at shortly.

Always opt for the top rated refrigerated probiotics every time. It’s just not worth gambling with anything related to personal health. You want to make sure that both your immune system and digestive system get the full advantages.

The right probiotic products, delivered in the correct balance, provide many health benefits. You will likely see your energy levels rise, but that’s not all. People report how they are better able to lose and maintain a healthy weight too. Many even see improvements to their hair and skin.

Digestion and Skin Health

The human skin supports a precise ecosystem of microorganisms, including yeast and bacteria. Just one tiny square inch of skin holds up to 500 million microorganisms. To put that into some perspective, it’s equal to the size of a pea. Any of the best rated probiotic brands will keep the bad microbes in check. This in turn is what helps to maintain healthy skin.

Cut to the Chase

There are so many companies now on the probiotic bandwagon. Because of this, it’s important to know how to cut to the chase. Reading the label fronts is not the right way to do this either. After all, every manufacturer will promote their brand in a favourable light. They will do this even if it’s a substandard product. That’s just one of the sad realities of this cut throat business.

Reading Labels of Refrigerated Probiotics

You will notice how the different types of probiotics boast of their various strains. You will see things like the billions count (CFUs), species, shelf stability and so on.

A probiotic label should state the organisms that are present to the strain level. Each product should identify the contents and state the number of live organisms. They should also guarantee that the stated number will be present at the time of expiry.

Identification of a specific strain, and not just species, is significant. It’s important because the beneficial effects can vary among strains of a given species.

Improper or inadequate labelling of some probiotic products can prove troublesome. Improper labelling does not automatically suggest a poor quality product though. It may even be a superior supplement that just lacks in some of the essential information. Ideally, all products should list the organisms included, at least to the species level. It’s also useful if the products state the number of viable organisms.

The bad news is that not all probiotic manufacturers provide this essential information. If you find that you have more questions than answers when reading labels, give the product a miss. At least skip the product until you’ve had time to research it further.

Types of Refrigerated Probiotics

You will find that the best refrigerated probiotics are available in various different forms. These supplements typically come in pills, capsules, drinks, yoghurts, chocolate and even chewing gums. How you take them is usually down to personal preference.

Making the Right Decision About Refrigerated Probiotics

There are a handful of frequently asked questions that many newcomers to probiotics ask: Is there a need for selecting a specific CFU count (number of billions)? Do I need a specific number of strains? Would it be better to consume probiotics in the form of capsules or yoghurts?

Well, the wrong selection could damage your bank balance and your health. If not damage your health, at least not provide you with any real health benefits. We might all be human, but we’re not all the same. That simply means we don’t all respond in the same way to probiotic foods, beverages or supplements.

Once again, the best approach is to learn from those who have gone before you. Just do a search for refrigerated probiotics reviews online. From there you will want to take notes for some of the best refrigerated probiotics brands. You will find that some reviewers made the right choice from the outset. Others may have had to learn some valuable lessons along the way. Whether the reviews are positive or negative doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you get to learn from them either way. Don’t forget, this is an ever-changing market and so you need to stay one step ahead of the game.

What to Avoid and Why

There are a lot of gimmicky products showing up in the probiotics world. These include things like flavoured yogurts and probiotic drinks like Dannon’s DanActive. The best advice is to avoid most of these and keep your probiotic intake simple and focused.

When to Avoid Yogurt Drinks

You will want to avoid yoghurt drinks if you are concerned about your waistline or have diabetes. The sugar content present in some of these so called “health drinks” can be huge. In fact, the leading drinks have more sugar than cola and other sugary carbonated soft drinks. As for the sugar-free options, they can contain high amounts of artificial sweeteners.

Refrigerated Probiotics vs Unrefrigerated Probiotics

Many people believe that refrigerated probiotics are of superior quality compared to unrefrigerated options. This was certainly the case in the past. However, when you know what to look for, you can now find several shelf-stable probiotics for sale. Obviously, shelf-stable probiotics don’t need storing in the refrigerator.

The point to note here is this: if probiotic supplements are for sale on the shelf, don’t assume they’re shelf-stable supplements. They might be, but they might not be too. Once again, a little knowledge here is going to help you make the best informed decisions. It’s certainly good to know that there are shelf-stable probiotics available nowadays. These prove popular for busy folks who spend a lot of time travelling.

More CFUs Is Not Always Better

Try not to get too distracted by the billions count. Too many people preoccupy themselves with the number of billions on product labels. You need to find your ideal balance.

There are actually many different probiotic organisms, but there is no set dosage. If in doubt, it’s always better to seek the advice of a medical professional. A lot of probiotics are dosed by the number of live organisms they contain. To give you an example, a typical dosage of Lactobacillus acidophilus ranges between 1 – 10 billion live organisms. These will typically provide three or four doses. The dosage can also show as colony forming units or CFU.

Let’s say someone decides to take thirty billion probiotics each day because the number sounds right to them. Well, this would not prove to be beneficial if essential criterion was not met. For example, maybe the high quantity is unable to survive the acidity in your stomach. Or perhaps there’s a problem binding the gut wall lining.

Yes, we are all human, but no, we don’t all react in the same way to food, beverages and supplements. Undertake proper research so that you can make the best informed decisions for yourself. If you are unsure, or overwhelmed by the science, your best approach would be to simply ask your doctor.

Further Reading on Refrigerated Probiotics

Do Probiotics Need to be Refrigerated?

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