why do some probiotics have to be refrigerated
The question: What s the difference between shelf-stable and refrigerated probiotics? STORE: Store employee: When you get them on the shelf compared with refrigerated, you have no idea how long they ve been there or when they were made. The potency goes down over time. Both are still in live form, but some have more enzymes then actual probiotics. When they are in the fridge, it ensures the potency s OK. NFM: So the refrigerated version is better? Store: Always get refrigerated probiotics. Those on the shelf are just not as strong. NFM: Why do they even make shelf versions, then? Store: It s just a convenience thing, and also some of them are like pearls and you can t stick them in the fridge because they may bind together. Comment: Amy Fitzpatrick, RD, dietitian and consultant to the dietary supplements industry. While it would seem that refrigerated products are more likely to retain their potency, some nonrefrigerated probiotic pills, particularly those with specific technology to protect the bacteria from heat, light and oxygen, can also remain viable for an extended period of time. Manufacturers of high-quality, nonrefrigerated probiotic products place a guarantee of probiotic content at the time of manufacture. They should also include an expiration date. Whether selecting a refrigerated or nonrefrigerated product, retailers should steer customers toward a pill with a high dose of probiotics, and preferably one that also contains prebiotics.
This helps ensure viable amounts of bacteria remain at the time of purchase. I look for pills that contain a minimum of 1 billion colony-forming units per dose, but I prefer 10 billion CFUs or more. The reality with probiotics is that the choice is not just between what s in the fridge and what s on the shelf.
We still get loads of questions asking if all probioticsВ need to be refrigerated. This question is the result of a common misconception, a relic from the early days of probiotic sales where they were packaged and sold in a manner that required refrigeration for maximum freshness and effectiveness. So what changed? Why are some probiotics moving away from refrigeration? Well first, letвs talk a little bit about the life cycle of bacteria to provide some context. The life cycle of probiotic bacteria has four stages Lag phase в Bacteria mature and grow in size, but they are not yet able to divide. They adapt to their environment during this phase (remember this point for later, itвs important). Growth (or Exponential) phase в This is the growth period where bacteria use nutrients to replicate and build metabolic waste. Bacteria are most susceptible to harmful environmental conditions during this phase (this point is very important too). Static (or Stationary) phase в Bacteria enter this phase when growth and death rates are equal.
It kicks in when nutrients needed for replication are depleted, or waste generated from replication blocks further growth. Death phase в Growth stops, and the bacteria start to die off So why is this information important? Well, probiotics that require refrigeration contain probiotic bacteria that are in the growth phase. These probiotics are already replicating and consuming nutrients. Through refrigeration, the metabolism of these bacteria is slowed, so they consume nutrients more slowly. This effectively extends the short shelf life of the product. Without refrigeration, these probiotics progress through the growth phase at a much faster pace, so they would enter the death phase in a matter of weeks, or even days. Dead probiotics canвt help anyone. With refrigeration, metabolism is slowed enough to provide a shelf life of several months. Unfortunately, probiotic bacteria in the growth phase are busy consuming nutrients and trying to replicate, so they are far less likely to survive a trip through the stomach acid, as they are most vulnerable to environmental harm during this stage. Probonix does not require refrigeration because it contains probiotic bacteria that are in the lag phase. These bacteria do not begin to actively divide until they reach their destination. This means that they can safely sit at room temperature because there is no metabolism to slow down.
This also allows for a drastic increase in shelf life over refrigerated probiotics. Probiotic bacteria in the lag phase are able to adapt to the acidic environment in the stomach on their way to your gut. This means that probiotic supplements that keep their bacteria in the lag phase will have much better survival rates than their refrigerated counterparts. That sounds like a pretty strong case against refrigerated probiotics, but we havenвt even covered one of the most important advantages of Probonix yet. Probiotics that donвt require refrigeration are more convenient. You need to store a refrigerated probiotic in the refrigerator. What do you do when you travel? How do you know that it hasnвt been sitting in a warm warehouse for hours or days before being delivered to your doorstep? Are you going to remember to take it regularly when itвs tucked away on a refrigerator shelf? Probonix doesnвt have these issues. Take it with you on the road. Mix it in your water bottle. Keep it on your nightstand, the kitchen counter, in your briefcase, or anywhere else that will make it easy to take regularly. After all, your probiotic supplement isnвt going to do a lot of good if you donвt remember to take it, and regular probiotic supplementation is what matters the most for keeping your gut healthy.
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