What’s the difference between refrigerated and unrefrigerated Probiotics? We see this question being asked frequently online and we can understand why; the question in itself is a gateway to more infusion. What are unrefrigerated probiotics and how do they differ from those need to be kept chilled? Then you start to question which kind is more potent on top of all the other questions that are now mounting in your mind. That is why we wanted to clear up the confusion between refrigerated and non-refrigerated probiotics in today's blog post. There is a significant difference between refrigerated and unrefrigerated probiotics and it’s all to do with the probiotic bacteria! If you have probiotics that need to go in the fridge, then the bacteria inside them are sensitive to heat and therefore can die quickly if exposed to warm temperatures. Therefore these probiotics are considered ‘unstable’ and need to be kept chilled. Whereas ‘stable’ probiotics can keep their bacteria alive even at room temperature for a much longer period of time!
To clarify, the main difference between refrigerated and non-refrigerated probiotics is all to do with their bacteria and how the probiotics themselves need to be stored to keep that bacteria alive and potent! But which type of probiotics are better…
Are refrigerated or non-refrigerated probiotics better?
Now you know the difference between refrigerated and non-refrigerated probiotics is to do with keeping the bacteria alive you might now be wondering which type is better and more effective. When it comes down to which type is better, non-refrigerated probiotics are more favourable for several reasons. This does not automatically make the ‘better’ but a longer shelf-life can make them a more popular alternative as it related to the bacteria staying stable for longer. If the bacteria in the probiotic are more stable and more likely to stay alive, they are more likely to be travel-friendly and have a longer shelf life. Probiotics that need to be refrigerated can still be highly useful (most probiotics do need to be stored in a manner that does not compromise the potency of the bacteria) and offer many benefits but they can become a nuisance for people who like to travel. Plus non-refrigerated can be kept in plain sight as a reminder to take each day; another preferred reason for many people.
Why are non-refrigerated probiotics better?
We briefly touched upon this above, mainly because non-refrigerated probiotics are made up of bacteria that do not need to be chilled in the fridge to stay alive and potent. If you know that your chosen probiotic supplement can be just as potent and effective no matter where it is stored (by your bedside or bathroom cabinet) then this is one less thing you need to worry about; whether or not our supplements’ bacteria has died or if it is still effective. What's more, the benefit of being able to keep your probiotics in view at all times can surely help remind you to take them daily! Also, shelf-stored probiotics typically have a much longer shelf life and therefore will not expire so quickly. These are a great option for those who travel as non-refrigerated probiotics will stay potent better and for longer. These are not the only reasons that make non-refrigerated probiotics better but the polarising reasons behind their popularity; they are more likely to stay potent and are the best type when travelling to ensure bacteria do not die. Dead bacteria inside a probiotic supplement would render them useless and therefore would serve no benefit for the body at all. The bacteria needs to be kept alive to be effective; something that can be more of a challenge to retain for refrigerated probiotics! This can be especially difficult if you are trying to travel whilst taking probiotics; where shelf stored are the only ones that will remain active and potent out of the fridge.
What happens if I don't refrigerate my probiotics?
If you do not chill or refrigerate probiotics that are advised to be kept in the fridge then you are putting the bacteria at risk of dying and therefore being completely useless if your intended use was to benefit from the probiotic bacteria inside them. Probiotic switch dead bacteria will not be able to serve any function for the body. For instance, if you were taking probiotics to help improve your gut health; if the bacteria is no longer stable or alive then the bacteria will not help to replenish the gut with ‘good’ bacteria (needed to stabilise ‘bad’ bacteria).
How long can probiotics be left unrefrigerated?
If your chosen probiotic states clearly on the packaging that it needs to be kept refrigerated then keeping it cold will keep the bacteria alive and should therefore be stored sufficiently as soon as possible. The quicker you put your probiotics in the proper storage (like the fridge if necessary) the more you are improving the chances of the bacteria staying alive and potent. Now, your probiotic manufacturers might have been able to test several scenarios that allow leverage (in days) to determine how long they can be left unrefrigerated. This can time-frame can differ amongst manufacturers but typically these types of probiotics can be kept out of the fridge for a few days but should be refrigerated as soon as possible; right after you receive them.
Are room temperature probiotics effective?
Not all probiotics need to be refrigerated as many are shelf-stable, so you can keep them at room temperature and the bacteria can remain potent and very much alive. Although, the majority do need to be stored correctly to ensure the bacteria can survive. Most probiotic bacteria strains require a chilled environment to stay potent and alive; unless they are manufactured in a process that can allow them to have a longer shelf-life unrefrigerated!Be sure to check out the rest of the Health Insiders Blog for more posts answering all of your probiotics-related questions! If you have a personal question relating to probiotics that you would like further help answering, then you can drop us a DM on Instagram. Our experts aim to handle your request within 48 hours.