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Home arrow Health arrow Gut Health arrow How Long Should You Take Probiotics? Maximizing the Effectiveness

How Long Should You Take Probiotics? Maximizing the Effectiveness

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Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
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Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: July 25, 2023
3 min read 1342 Views 0 Comments
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Probiotic supplements are often taken to reduce digestive symptoms, improve immune function, and promote overall health, but how long can you take this kind of supplement for? We explore the ins and outs of probiotic supplementation below.

How long should you take probiotics

Probiotics are living microorganisms found in fermented foods and supplements. Many people choose to add probiotic supplements to their routine as they ensure the balance between the good and harmful bacteria in the gut flora, but how long should you take probiotic supplements for? 

We have taken a look below at proper probiotic supplementation to help you understand how long you should do it. Read on for more information.

How Long Should You Take Probiotics?

Probiotic supplements should be taken for at least 4 weeks. Guidance suggests you monitor the changes during these 4 weeks to check if they’re working. You should continue daily usage for as long as possible.

It is considered safe to take these supplements every day for the rest of your life, though it is important to note that some people cannot take probiotics. 

If you are considering taking them but think they may harm your health instead, speak with your doctor first to ascertain whether they could work for you.

How long to take probiotics after taking antibiotics?

You should start taking probiotics as soon as you begin a course of antibiotics and continue them for at least a month after the antibiotic course has ended to fully restore gut health and rebalance the microbiome. Wait 1–2 hours after taking your antibiotic before taking the supplement.

Antibiotics, though brilliant for fighting bacterial infections, can have adverse effects on your gut microbiome. As this medication works to remove bacteria from the body, it damages the delicately balanced microflora in the gut.

Many health professionals recommend taking a probiotic alongside a course of antibiotics to offset this side effect and reduce the risk of antibiotic-related constipation and diarrhea.

How Often to Take Probiotics?

Many people benefit from daily probiotic supplements, including people with illnesses like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). If you choose not to take a daily probiotic, you should at least consider taking them while on an antibiotic course. It is also possible to take them for periods of time with breaks in between. However, the guidance suggests it is best if use is continual and sustained.

These supplements introduce healthy bacteria into the intestinal tract, working to improve digestive health, immune function, and even skin health. The good bacteria rebalance the gut and ensure that digestive symptoms, like bloating, gas, and diarrhea, are kept at bay.

Our gut bacteria are integral to good overall health. Indeed, they even play a role in our mental health, so keeping the gut balanced and intact can help you to lead a healthier, happier life.

How Long Do Probiotics Take to Work?

Most probiotic manufacturers recommend giving probiotics at least 4 weeks to begin working. During this time, you may experience some side effects, like excessive gas, bloating, and irregular bowel movements, but these are common and usually subside within a few weeks.

Your body may respond badly to probiotics, and you may notice that these side effects don’t get better. If this is the case, stop taking them immediately and consult a doctor.

For some people, it may take longer than 4 weeks to notice any changes. Indeed, if you are taking these supplements for IBS symptoms, it is recommended that you stick with them for at least 8 weeks before assessing their efficacy.

In the case that you don’t notice any changes when taking probiotics, you should consider the following;

  • Whether you were taking the correct dose – Sometimes, you may need a higher dose for the supplement to take effect.
  • Whether the strain of probiotics you were taking was the right one for you – While it is all good bacteria in these supplements, sometimes your natural balance needs a different probiotic strain than the one you have been taking.
  • The quality of the product – If the live and active cultures in your supplement are not of high quality, they won’t have any positive effects on your body.
  • How you are storing them – Unfortunately, heat and humidity can both affect the live cultures in your supplement, so if you have stored them incorrectly, they may no longer be effective.

If you are struggling to find the right probiotic for your body, you could consider speaking with a nutritionist to get some advice.

Is It Okay to Take Probiotics Every Day?

It is safe to take a probiotic daily. Ensure that your daily dose is in line with the recommended allowance on the brand of probiotic products you are taking. Do not take more than is recommended, as taking too many probiotics could have adverse digestive symptoms.

A Word From a Nutritionist

Probiotics can be an excellent addition to your diet. They can help with IBS-related symptoms, can ease symptoms of food intolerances, and help to restore health to the gut microbiome.

Probiotic use has increased immensely in recent years, with many health professionals recommending their use to patients with particular medical conditions or digestive symptoms. However, it is important to remember that these are supplements and not a stand-in for any medications you have been prescribed.

When shopping for probiotics, look out for high-quality products and ensure that you are choosing the specific strains that are best for your body. Probiotics can be taken continuously throughout your life and are considered totally safe for human use.

Be aware that some people cannot take these supplements. If you think you may be one of these people, speak with a doctor before trying them out.

Conclusion

Probiotics can be taken daily. Most manufacturers recommend taking them for at least 4 weeks before you notice any differences. Make sure to choose quality products, store the supplements correctly so as not to harm the live bacteria, and stop taking them if any side effects don’t subside within a few weeks.

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
The article was fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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