Is It OK to Take a Probiotic Every Day?

Reviewed on 1/21/2022

Probiotic pills and supplements
Probiotics are considered “good bacteria” or “friendly bacteria,” and should only be taken if a doctor recommends them. You should generally incorporate probiotics into your diet rather than get them from supplements.

Probiotics are a type of bacteria that live in the body, help keep the gut healthy, and can help defend the body from infections. Not all bacteria cause illness. Probiotics are what is often referred to as “good bacteria” or “friendly bacteria.” Probiotics should only be taken if a doctor recommends them.

Probiotics and prebiotics are not the same. Prebiotics are a source of food for probiotics. 

Who Should Take Probiotics?

  • Unless a doctor prescribes probiotics for a specific purpose, it is generally considered better to get probiotics from your diet rather than from supplements. If you eat a healthy diet comprised of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, yogurt products labeled as having “active cultures,” and fermented foods such as kimchi, kefir, and sauerkraut you should be able to maintain a healthy gut without probiotic supplements
  • If there is nothing wrong with your digestive system, there is no reason to take a probiotic every day. In fact, if you have a healthy gut, probiotic supplements likely will not offer any benefits. While probiotics may not help, in general they are not harmful. However, there may be some risks with probiotic supplements: 
  • Probiotics are considered dietary supplements and are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) like medications, which means products may not contain what the labels claim they do. 
  • People with weakened immune systems (such as people on cancer chemotherapy or with certain illnesses) may get an infection following use of probiotics. 
  • Talk to your doctor before adding probiotic supplements to your diet. 

What Are Probiotics Used For?

Probiotics are used to help restore the balance of gut bacteria. Studies on the effectiveness of probiotics have been mixed, and it is unclear whether probiotics can improve health. 

Probiotics are often taken: 

Studies are being done to investigate if probiotics may help:

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Reviewed on 1/21/2022
References
Image Source: iStock Images

https://www.uptodate.com/contents/probiotics-the-basics?search=probiotics&source=search_result&selectedTitle=1~135&usage_type=default&display_rank=1

https://www.mdanderson.org/publications/focused-on-health/should-you-take-a-daily-probiotic-supplement-.h16-1592202.html

https://cspinet.org/tip/should-you-take-probiotic-every-day