Every week we have a reader question. They are chosen from questions submitted via email or Facebook, and are often questions that we receive frequently — so why not answer all at once!
This Week’s Reader Question
I am 37 weeks, due at the end of February with my first baby. I hope your last few weeks of pregnancy go well. I was wondering what brand of Probiotics you take for pregnancy, nursing, etc.? Do you use the same type for your children? What about when you have your newborn… same type and dosage? I appreciate your recommendation.
I get asked about probiotics a lot. Should you supplement? At what age? With what type? It’s an issue that confuses a lot of parents.
First, many people would benefit from a probiotic supplement. In an ideal world, we’d get the probiotics we need from food. However, we would need to eat 3 – 4 different types of probiotic foods per day — one with every meal, and they would need to be different types so they would contain different strains. Milk and water kefir have quite a few different strains in them and they are strong, beneficial types that hang out in the digestive tract for up to 2 weeks. If your child has milk kefir with breakfast, a fermented veggies (pickles, sauerkraut, carrots, etc.) with lunch, and water kefir or kombucha with dinner, he probably doesn’t need a supplement. Most families do not include this many probiotic foods in their diet, however. ( Yogurt is also beneficial but doesn’t have as many or as strong active cultures as kefir.)
If you aren’t getting the probiotics needed from food (and most do not), a supplement is beneficial. A good brand will have a high CFU (colony forming units) and will be refrigerated. It ought to also be food-based. The one I choose to take, after a lot of research, is Garden of Life for Women, which is 85 billion CFU. I take three capsules per day (their recommended dosage) and do it in the morning or afternoon with food. It seemed to bother me a bit when I took it right before bed, so I quit doing that.
Right now, I give my kids the Garden of Life Raw Probiotic for Kids, which is 3 billion CFU. I add this to morning smoothies most of the time, because it’s least noticed there. In the past, I have used Klaire Labs Infant Therbiotic, which is allergy-free and 10 billion CFU.
If mom is taking probiotics and has fairly good gut health, supplementing an exclusively breastfed baby directly is probably not necessary. Mom’s milk will help to develop baby’s gut properly and will colonize it with good bacteria. If mom’s gut health isn’t so good (which may be obvious if baby has an food intolerances through her milk), then supplementing baby directing is a good idea. The infant formula is good and young infants only need a tiny dose. My kids’ old pediatrician recommended wetting a clean finger with water, dipping it into the powder, and allowing baby to suck on it until it was dissolved. The powder is lightly sweet so babies don’t have a problem taking it.
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What probiotic supplement do you take?
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