How long should you take probiotics? We see this question pop up online frequently and each time it is answered, it only seems to cause more confusion. However we can understand why this question causes so much confusion. We believe this confusion comes down to the fact that there are no set rules on how long you should take a probiotic supplement! Yes, there are some recommendations but these are typically related to the amount of time you should take a probiotic supplement to nice or experience any benefits. The period a supplement should be taken for it to benefit the body is a part of what makes this question difficult for many people to answer. However, we are here to help clear up as much confusion around this topic as we can. Although, it will end up being completely your own choice when it comes to deciding how long you will stay on probiotics. We will help provide all the necessary advice but the decision, for how long, is based on your needs and expectations. You might only want to take probiotics for a short period, whereas others may want to keep their body regularly replenished with probiotic bacteria for long-term support. Both are safe options and can still be beneficial to your overall gut, digestive and even intimate health…
Do I need to take probiotics forever?
A minor concern for several people, who begin taking a daily probiotic, is that they believe once they begin taking a probiotic supplement that they need to keep taking it every day forever. Now, there is no evidence to suggest that there are any risks or harm caused by taking probiotics over an extremely long period, but it does not mean that once you start you have to keep taking them indefinitely! Probiotics are not medicine but in fact, are microbial supplements that can help keep your digestive system and gut health. They can be safely taken daily for as long as you like; based on your health goals and the amount of time you would like to keep your gut and digestive system supported by taking daily probiotics. There is no set time in which you must be taking or continue taking probiotics, therefore, the duration is up to you.
Can long-term use of probiotics be harmful?
You might not need to take probiotics indefinitely but if you would like to take them long-term then you can feel rest assured knowing that they are safe to take over an extended time. We briefly mentioned this above when we discussed whether or not you need to take probiotics forever; you can take them for as long as you think is best for your health goals. Once again probiotics supplements are NOT a medicine or medication! Probiotic supplements are capsules of live and potent bacteria that can help support your overall digestive and gut health. There is no harm in taking probiotics long-term; so long as they are taken correctly to ensure they are just as effective as when you began taking them.
Is there a risk of overdosing on Probiotics if taken long-term?
It is very difficult to near impossible to over-consume or overdose on probiotics. This is largely due to your body being heavily populated with trillions of microbial cells, including bacteria. Therefore overdosing on probiotics is generally considered harmless; due to the chances of having ‘too much’ bacteria in the body being nearly impossible to occur. It is recommended that you stick to a suitable dosage for probiotics, which can differ slightly based on your health goals. Below we have included the recommended CFU dosage for people who are interested in taking probiotics to ensure they are getting the right amount for them to feel the benefits:
- Probiotics formulated for infants and young children - Up to 4 billion CFU
- Probiotics formulated for adolescents and adults - Around 10 - 12 billion CFU
- Probiotics formulated especially for women - Around 20 billion CFU
The number of colony-forming units inside a probiotic refers to the number of live bacteria in the probiotic supplements but even a higher CFU does not guarantee better or quick results! However, even at a high 20+ billion CFU, this type of probiotic can still be safely taken every day on a long-term basis and is not known to cause a probiotic-related overdose! You can safely take a higher ‘dosage’ of probiotics over a long time to help keep the body healthy and ensure bacteria are balanced without having to fear accidental overconsumption.
Do probiotics stop working after a while?
It is uncommon for probiotics to render themselves effective (inside the body) after being taken for some time but there are a few common mistakes that people make that can impact the effectiveness of their supplements. Spoiler; it's not always related to the body not needing the probiotic bacteria anymore after being taken for so long. If you do find that your results from taking probiotics seem to be less effective then chances are it’s more to do with the composition of the supplement itself. There are two main types of probiotics:
- Probiotics that need to remain refrigerated - to keep the bacteria live and stable
- Probiotics that can be stored on the shelf - typically have a longer shelf life
Storing your probiotics incorrectly is one the of most common reasons for them to stop working! If a refrigerated probiotic is left in a warm environment, the bacteria inside them are going to die thus rendering them useless. For the body to benefit from probiotic bacteria, it needs to be alive above all else! Another factor that could affect the effectiveness of your probiotics can be linked to your health. You might have been taking a probiotic to relieve particular symptoms you have not experienced for a while; this could be why you think probiotics might not be ineffective. However, continuously supporting the body is a great way to ensure your symptoms do not come back again; therefore you might not be able to notice the good they are still doing!We have plenty of blog posts that explore probiotics in even more depth, including why storing them correctly is so important and how reliable probiotics can be for long-term health. Be sure to check out the Health Insiders Blog catalogue for more probiotic-related posts!