For some individuals, such as those on long-term antibiotics, probiotic supplements can help replace the good bacteria in your body. Although more research is needed, there’s encouraging evidence that probiotics may also help prevent urinary tract infections, treat irritable bowel syndrome or speed treatment of certain intestinal infections. Here are some other things to keep in mind if you are considering probiotic supplements:

 1. Probiotics are not regulated like drugs.

Most experts believe probiotic supplements are safe, but they do not go through the same rigorous testing for safety and effectiveness as drugs do. Also, there are no standardized amounts of microbes or minimum levels required in foods or supplements.

 2. Probiotics might not be safe for everyone.

Experts caution that there are some people who should avoid probiotics in foods or supplements. These might include individuals with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients who are receiving chemotherapy.

 3. Pay attention to expiration dates.

Live organisms can have a limited shelf life, so you should use probiotics before their expiration dates. Some supplements require refrigeration or should be kept at room temperature or in a cool, dark place.

 4. Read product labels carefully.

Labels on supplements should specify the genus, species and strain. Follow package directions for instructions on proper dosage, frequency and storage.

5. Probiotic-containing foods can also help.

Most importantly, always check with your doctor to be sure probiotic supplements are right for you and ask your Meijer pharmacist about a probiotic supplement recommendation. There are several probiotic supplements available at Meijer if you need them, including Align, Ultimate Flora, Digestive Advantage and Culturelle.

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