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The amount of probiotics necessary to replenish the intestine varies according to the extent of microbial depletion and the presence of harmful bacteria. One to two billion colony forming units (CFUs) per day of acidophilus is considered to be the minimum amount for the healthy maintenance of intestinal microflora. Some Saccharomyces boulardii research has used 500 mg taken four times per day. Preliminary research suggests that combinations of probiotic strains are in some cases more effective than individual strains,” but additional research is needed to confirm that possibility.8
Beneficial bacteria present in fermented dairy foods—namely live culture yogurt—have been used as a folk remedy for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Yogurt is the traditional source of beneficial bacteria. However, different brands of yogurt can vary greatly in their bacteria strain and potency. Some (particularly frozen) yogurts do not contain any live bacteria. Supplements in powder, liquid extract, capsule, or tablet form containing beneficial bacteria are other sources of probiotics.
People using antibiotics, eating a poor diet, or suffering from diarrhea are more likely to have depleted colonies of friendly bacteria.
While there are many probiotic strains used in supplements, there have been relatively few comparison trials studying whether certain strains are more beneficial than others for a given condition (although, there have been numerous clinical trials showing a benefit for at least one type of strain). However, it does appear that, under normal conditions, different types of bacterial flora occupy different parts of the body, and some strains may have a beneficial effect in specific areas of the body. In addition, it is important to buy from reputable manufacturers, as some products have been found to contain much less bacteria than was stated on the label.9
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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2017.