Wednesday’s Ask Dr. Walt — Prescription for Probiotics

Dear Dr. Walt,

With probiotics, how many CFUs should I look for as the dose? Is more necessarily better?

—Inquisitive in Illinois

Dear Microbe Aficionado,

The specific recommended dosage for probiotics varies depending upon on the probiotic strain and the reason for which you are taking it.

Common indications include:

  • the prevention or treatment of antibiotic-associated diarrhea,
  • irritable bowel syndrome,
  • anxiety,
  • depression,
  • allergies, and
  • other disorders.

But, as a general rule, I tell my patients that a probiotic should provide at least 1 billion CFUs (colony forming units, i.e., viable cells), with doses typically ranging between 1 billion and 10 billion CFUs daily for adults.

There are some exceptions to this: Doses as high as 100 billion CFUs or more are used in some situations, while doses for children and infants are sometimes below 1 billion.

Also, I recommend that folks check with a quality testing lab (such as ConsumerLab.com) to find out which products actually contain in the product what the label claims.

© Copyright Walter L. Larimore, M.D. 2017. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.