Probiotics can be a great addition to any self-health routine. Probiotic supplements contain beneficial bacteria that are known for a multitude of health benefits, including promoting regular digestion and a balanced gut. They can even impact more than just your digestive health, but you can read more about those additional probiotic benefits here. Whether you’re suffering through a bout of constipation, diarrhea, or feeling digestive discomfort, a probiotic may be able to help. But when should you take your probiotic…does that matter too? And, should you take it with food or on empty stomach? Let’s take a look at some tips for getting the best from your probiotics.
When to Take Your Probiotics
Does it matter when you take your probiotics? In short, yes it does matter! The concern is that bacteria are delicate by nature, and that they may not survive harsh stomach acid. Taking probiotic supplements at a certain time of day (when stomach acidity may be more neutral) can help you to ensure the highest survival rates of your probiotic. Also, best practice is to take a daily dosage of probiotics to maintain good gut health balance. Add a supplement to your routine at whatever time works best for you, but be consistent.
We recommend taking your probiotic with a meal; breakfast, lunch or dinner. Food helps to buffer the effects of stomach acid; it may also help to facilitate the passage of the probiotics through the stomach, and ensure they are well mixed with the stomach contents as they pass into the small intestines. That being said, there are hundreds of probiotic strains available in the market, and different strains may need to be administered at a specific time of the day. Some probiotic supplements that also contain prebiotics could lead to some initial bloating and gas, so you may want to take these before bedtime. Read the “suggested use” statement on your probiotic supplement label for best results.
Should I Take Them With Food?
In general, probiotics should be taken with food. They should be taken with food because there are very few strains of bacteria that can withstand the harsh acidity of an empty stomach. Food dilutes stomach acid to levels that bacteria can survive. Fewer bacteria have been shown to survive in “fasted” than in fed subjects. Again, some strains are not hypersensitive to stomach acid and can be taken at any time. And some supplement products use special coating techniques to enable transit through the intestines. We suggest you review the labels for the best information on the product you are taking.
We think that taking probiotics at any time is better than not taking them at all, but taking probiotics at the right time can optimize the health benefits. While we recommend taking a probiotic with your morning breakfast, there are some who prefer taking it before bed, because the gut is pretty inactive at night. If you think about it, you don’t usually wake up in the middle of the night to have a bowel movement. If you take a probiotic at night when your bowel is less active, there is a chance that it may hang around, divide, and potentially get better integrated into your gut.1
Also, if your probiotic causes you to feel a little gassy and bloated after taking it, (which is common when first taking probiotics) you may want to consider switching to taking it before bed, to minimize any public airing of these symptoms. What about taking it with your multivitamin, is that okay? Yes, we encourage it! You might be concerned that taking a probiotic at the same time as your morning vitamins or supplements might make one less effective. Not to worry though, because in most cases, taking probiotics should not affect the effectiveness of other supplements like your daily multivitamin. Multivitamins are generally designed to be best taken first thing in the morning, which is perfect to pair with the probiotic you take with breakfast.
Storing Your Probiotics
In general, probiotic bacteria are naturally sensitive to heat and moisture, both of which can kill the specialized live organisms and render them ineffective. This is why certain probiotic supplements require refrigeration to preserve their efficacy and will include clear instructions from the manufacturer regarding storage. However, not all probiotics are in need of refrigeration. Some bacteria strains were developed specifically to survive without it. They become viable again once they enter a moist environment, aka your stomach. A probiotic that is labeled as “shelf-stable” means it can safely be stored at room temperature. That also means you can take your probiotic with you when you travel or are on the go!
Probiotics can really help to enhance your gut health and overall wellbeing. To optimize a probiotic supplement’s effectiveness, keep these tips in mind. But most importantly, try to prioritize consistency above all else. Adding a probiotic to your daily routine will provide the greatest benefits for your digestive health. Your microbiome will thank you! Speak with your healthcare provider before taking any new probiotics or supplements to make sure it makes sense for you and your body.
- K Brabaw. Taking probiotics at night could make them more effective. News 24. 2019: https://www.news24.com/health24/medical/digestive-health/news/taking-probiotics-at-night-could-make-them-way-more-effective-20191208-2
This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.