What is the CFU Count in Probiotics?

"How many billion CFU do I need to maintain my digestive health?"

The benefits of "good bacteria" have become well-known among health-conscious consumers. Probiotics help balance out the unwanted bacteria in your digestive tract to promote gut health. 

Probiotics play a crucial role in maintaining digestive health and overall wellness. Incorporating a high-quality probiotic supplement into your daily routine can help support a healthy gut - but how do you know which probiotics to take? Understanding colony-forming unit (CFU) counts can help determine which supplements will give you enough beneficial bacteria to deliver the desired health benefits.

When you browse for probiotics online, in the pharmacy, or at the grocery store, you will see a huge range of CFUs listed on the supplement facts label. So, what's best? Learn about the CFU count in probiotics and its significance in determining the potency and effectiveness of these beneficial bacteria. Learn more about CFUs and why you should always check product labels before taking a new probiotic. 


What Does CFU Count Mean?

CFUs indicate how many alive and active microorganisms are in one serving of a probiotic dietary supplement. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in the human gut. CFU count indicates the number of viable bacteria in a probiotic product and its potency and effectiveness. Lab tests can determine the CFU count of a probiotic product. Testing involves incubating the product and counting the number of viable bacteria that grow. This process is called a "CFU assay," which accurately measures the number of viable bacteria in a product.

In other words, you want the "good" probiotics to help crowd out "bad" bacteria in the gut. Taking a good-quality probiotic can help reduce symptoms like constipation, gas, and bloating, support a healthy digestive and immune system, and support healthy elimination.


How Many CFUs Do You Need in a Probiotic?

There isn't a clear-cut recommended daily dose of probiotic CFUs that everyone should consume. Therefore, your best amount will depend on your health interests and goals. 

Average probiotic supplements have between 1 billion and 10 billion CFUs per serving, but they range up to 100 billion CFUs. 100 billion is usually the highest daily dosage anybody needs to take, and most people need much less than that. Doses for children and infants are often below 1 billion. 

A CFU count of at least 10 billion for general digestive health is recommended. Most full-grown adults without severe health conditions or sensitivity to supplements will benefit from taking a more potent dose, around 30 to 50 billion CFUs per serving. People with more specific health concerns, like IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) or lactose intolerance, should consider taking a higher dose. 

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How To Know if Your Probiotic CFU is Too High

The gut has around 400 to 600 different bacterial strains and species. When you take a probiotic supplement, the goal is to add beneficial bacteria back into the stomach to improve the overall environment. Therefore, you want to take a high enough dose to ensure it makes a positive difference in the gut. At the same time, taking too much may actually have a negative effect.

It is generally considered safe to consume probiotics with a high CFU count, but there are some potential risks to be aware of. Some people who take very high (usually 70 billion or higher) CFUs per dose may experience side effects. People with severe medical conditions, abdominal pain due to gut issues, or severe leaky gut are at a higher risk of developing side effects from high CFU counts. Anyone with severe illnesses or immunocompromised should consult a doctor before taking probiotics. 

Here are some signs that your probiotic CFU may be too high:


Stomach Issues: Consuming a high CFU probiotic can lead to common digestive issues like bloating, gas, and diarrhea. Digestive issues can happen when the beneficial bacteria in the probiotic outcompete the native gut bacteria and disrupt the balance of the gut microbiome.


Antibiotic Interaction: While rare, high CFU probiotics can interfere with the effectiveness of antibiotics, making it more difficult to treat infections.

To avoid potential risks, choose a probiotic with a CFU count that is appropriate for your specific health needs and chat with a healthcare professional before starting a probiotic supplement.


What About Prebiotics?

Remember to take your prebiotics! Prebiotics are a kind of fiber that feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut and enhance the effectiveness of probiotics. Some probiotic products contain prebiotics, which can be a good choice for individuals looking to maximize the health benefits of probiotics. Our Complex Probiotic and Prebiotic Supplements contain 40 billion CFUs of essential digestive support. 

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Tips for Choosing a Good-Quality Probiotic 

Not all probiotic supplements are created equal; some may contain fewer CFUs than advertised. This is why choosing a reputable brand and verifying the CFU count through independent third-party testing is crucial. Look for a supplement that clearly lists the CFU count per serving. To ensure the quality and potency of probiotics, choose a product with a high CFU count and follow the storage instructions carefully.

Shop for 40 billion CFU probiotics to support your digestive tract and overall health.