Do you take probiotics? More and more people are, which is great – but one problem can fester from this growing number. That problem concerns the supplement itself: Do you know what you are taking? Which strain? The amount of bacteria? These are things that you must know – but many of us overlook this information and instead go with a name-brand, a brand that we trust, or simply the brand that’s the cheapest. You need to be educated on the probiotic labels, so you can get the best bang for your buck.

CFU/ml

This is perhaps the most important thing you need to look for on a probiotic label. Colony Forming Units (CFU) are the units used to measure the number of active or live organisms in your probiotic. The CFU listed on the bottle is specifically designated for the viable organisms in the probiotic, or the micro-organisms that are capable of surviving the proper circumstances. The indication of CFUs on your probiotics product is important because it stands as one of the best factors for comparison. So, if you have the choice between 8.1 million CFU and 11.1 million CFU, you’ll probably (and should) choose the latter.

Storage Information

Another important thing, as the wrong type of storage will kill your bacteria – making the product essentially useless. Some require refrigeration, and they state it on the label. Some do not – but most agree that keeping any type of probiotic supplement refrigerated is the best option. However, if the label specifically state not the refrigerate it, then do not refrigerate it. Follow the label, and all will be well.

Expiration Dates

This shouldn’t be a problem in a bigger store, but for smaller store or online shops, check the label before buying and/or taking. While expired probiotics may have some form of live bacteria, it is not close to the amount the labeling state. Be sure that your expiration date is a good ways off, so you are not pushing the expiration date if you somehow miss a few days of taking your probiotics.

Species

Yes, this matters. Not all good bacteria are great for the same thing, and you need to know the difference. Some of these are Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium, and Streptococcus thermophilus, and others – but many times the labels do not state them as such. So, L. Species is a Lactobacillus acidophilus, B. Species is a Bifidobacterium, and S. Species is a Streptococcus thermophilus. Don’t freak out with “Streptococcus thermophilus” – yes, it is part of that strep family, but there are many strains of strep bacteria – and this is a good one for our health.