How Often Do You Need To Take A Probiotic?

Probiotic supplements have been a big wellness trend for a while. These products promise to improve gut health and balance the good bacteria in your body. While they come with many benefits, probiotics work best when you use them correctly. This includes understanding how often to take them and for how long. Here's what you should know.

Let's start with whether or not you need to take a probiotic at all. These supplements are often marketed as essential parts of your diet, but that can be misleading. People who are "generally healthy" and enjoy a "diverse, balanced diet" probably don't need to think about probiotics at all (via Insider). Probiotics are naturally found in foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, and kefir, so you don't need to take a supplement to get these in your diet in the first place.

If your doctor does recommend you take a probiotic supplement, the recommended dosage will depend on the product itself and your individual health needs. "The dose needed for probiotics varies greatly depending on the strain and product," the World Gastroenterology Organisation (WGO) stated in its guidelines on probiotics and prebiotics. "Although many over-the-counter products deliver in the range of 1-10 billion CFU/dose, some products have been shown to be efficacious at lower levels, while some require substantially more."

Probiotics come with side effects and don't work immediately

If you do begin a probiotic regime, it's important to be aware of how they work. This means understanding the potential side effects you may experience while taking them. According to WebMD, side effects of probiotics may include intestinal gas and bloating as your body gets used to new bacteria in the gut. You can offset these effects by decreasing your dosage at the recommendation of your doctor.

A probiotic supplement may also interfere with certain medications, so talk to your doctor before taking any new supplements. Finally, people with intestinal diseases, HIV, cancer, or weak immune systems may have issues if they take a probiotic. Always talk to your physician before adding a supplement to your diet.

Probiotics also take some time to have their full effect on your body. According to Medical News Today, "the type of probiotic strain, health condition, product formula, product quality, and dose are all important for effectiveness." You may notice the effects in just a few days or it may take a few weeks to feel different.