When is the best time of day to take probiotics?

The exact time you take a probiotic is not as important as other considerations, such as why are you’re taking it.

  • Wednesday, June 23, 2021 1:30am
  • Life

By Barbara Quinn / Monterey Herald

Deborah T. writes:

“I enjoy reading your columns in our local newspaper, as they are informative and relevant. Would you do a column on when to take probiotics? The bottles say to take according to the advice of your practitioner. I have asked a dentist, an endocrinologist, a nurse practitioner and numerous friends. Everybody has a different answer (or no answer at all). Take them half an hour before eating. Take them two hours after you eat. Take them in the morning. On and on! There seems to be controversy over how enough probiotics can get to one’s GI tract alive so that they can do their job. Thank you.”

Great question, Deborah.

It appears that the exact time of day you take a probiotic is not as important as other considerations, such as why are you’re taking it in the first place. Most research is focused on the effect of various strains of probiotics on certain health conditions, not on the exact time of day to take them. (More on that in another column.)

For example, there is good evidence from at least 19 published studies that taking probiotics within a day or two of starting antibiotic therapy was the most effective way to prevent Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infection in hospitalized patients. C. diff is a bad bug that causes severe diarrhea.

Effective doses of probiotics for various conditions vary from one to three times a day, depending on the medical condition — and the particular strain of probiotic, according to an intensive report on this subject by the World Gastroenterology Organisation.

Probiotic manufacturers usually recommend one or two doses a day, depending on why you are taking them. One product label, for instance, says to take one capsule daily. But “when traveling, take two capsules (one in the morning, one at night). During antibiotic use, take one capsule twice daily and continue for 10 days after completion of antibiotics.”

Another manufacturer states that it doesn’t matter when (time of day) you take their product — just take it as part of your daily routine, at a time that will be easy to remember. That makes sense.

And don’t forget that we can also get probiotics in fermented foods such as yogurt. Whatever the source, remember that only products with live cultures are effective for health promotion.

Live organisms can also die, so look for products that list the total number of colony forming units (CFUs) on the expiration or use-by date. Avoid products that list the number of CFUs “at time of manufacture,” advises the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics, since that information does not take into account the limited lifespan of these good bugs.

Barbara Quinn-Intermill is a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and the author of “Quinn-Essential Nutrition.” Email her at barbara@quinnessentialnutrition.com.

Talk to us

More in Life

David Dastmalchian (back left), King Shark (back center) and Daniela Melchior (back right), with John Cena (front left) and Idris Elba (front right) in “The Suicide Squad.” (Warner Bros. Pictures/TNS)
Director James Gunn takes ‘Suicide Squad’ on maniacal romp

He brings a new comic energy to the violent comic book adaptation, a follow-up to a much-panned 2016 film.

Workers prepare to offload Dungeness crab from a boat on Pier 45 in the Fisherman's Wharf district in San Francisco, California, on Jan. 13, 2021. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by David Paul Morris.
No crabs, no scallops: Seafood is vanishing from menus in U.S.

Seafood prices have risen about 11% over the past year, thanks to congested ports, not enough fishermen and soaring demand.

Sandra Oh as the title character in "Killing Eve." MUST CREDIT: Gareth Gatrell, BBC America
August TV: 4 new shows we can’t wait to see

We’re still more than a month away from the start of the new fall broadcast season, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to watch in August.

Adam Driver in "Annette." (Kris Dewitte/Amazon Studios/TNS)
Adam Driver stars in ‘Annette,’ a darkly strange musical

Director Leos Carax’s movie won raves at the Cannes Film Festival; your mileage may vary.

Yogoman Burning Band will perform Jamaican and New Orleans dance rhythms Aug. 6-7 as part of the Bands, Brews and Bowling event at Evergreen Bowling in Everett. (Yogoman Burning Band)
All about music: Schedule of concerts around Snohomish County

The listings include Bands, Brews and Bowling at Evergreen Lanes in Everett.

Laura Smith, with husband Tom, makes Danielle Lam laugh after being presented with a check for $10,000 from The Prize Patrol from Publishers Clearing House on Wednesday, July 28, 2021 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
‘Holy roses!’ A day in the life of the legendary Prize Patrol

Publishers Clearing House surprised a Mukilteo couple with a sweepstakes prize, flowers and balloons.

Cricket & Snail, a violin and accordion duo from Prague featuring Lucie and James Carlson, is scheduled to perform Aug. 6 at Cafe Zippy in Everett. (Cricket & Snail)
Where to hear live music in Snohomish County nightclubs

The listings include Engel’s Pub, Mirkwood Public House and Port Gardner Bay Winery shows.

Kermet Apio will perform stand-up at the Edmonds Center for the Arts on Sept. 9. (YouTube)
Theater, dance and comedy shows around Snohomish County

The listings include Historic Everett Theatre, Edmonds Center for the Arts and Thumbnail Theater shows.

Nathan Welton/ Dreamtime Images
Photographer David Welton’s work has appeared in the South Whidbey Record and The Daily Herald.
The camera is Whidbey Island man’s second calling

After retiring from a career in medicine, David Welton of Langley focuses on his first love: photography

Most Read