Probiotics – a type of “good” or “helpful” bacteria and/or yeast – help to promote digestive health and offer protection from harmful bacteria.

What are its health benefits?

This microorganism occurs naturally in your body and helps keep your gut healthy by ensuring food progresses through your digestive system. They’re also available in some foodstuffs (see below) and as a supplement.

The most common probiotic bacteria come from two groups: Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium. These both have different benefits for different parts of your body. For example, Lactobacillus helps alleviate the symptoms of lactose intolerance, while Bifidobacterium may help for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Probiotic supplements may benefit you in the following ways:

  • For boosting your immune system
  • For replacing “good” bacteria when you lose it, for example, when you take antibiotics
  • For treating antibiotic-related, infectious and traveller’s diarrhoea
  • For preventing and treating urinary tract infections (UTIs) and vaginal yeast infections, like candida
  • For treating inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Preventing or reducing the severity of allergies, colds and flu
  • For treating certain intestinal infections
  • For treating skin conditions like eczema
  • For ensuring oral health

Find it in these food sources

 As probiotics’ popularity has increased with an increasing number of people seeking natural ways to maintain their health, so there’s been an explosion of probiotic products available on the market. You can find them in the following foods and products:

  • Yoghurt
  • Chocolate
  • Granola bars
  • Juices
  • Powders
  • Capsules

Recommended daily allowance (RDA)

There is no RDA. Ask your Clicks pharmacist or your doctor about the correct product and dose for you and/or your children.

It’s considered safe to take probiotics during pregnancy and breastfeeding but first check with your healthcare practitioner about the correct dosage.

If you have a compromised immune system due to disease or treatment for a disease, such as chemotherapy, taking probiotics could increase your chances of getting sick, so always speak to your doctor first about supplementation. 

Know the overdose risks

Side effects are rare but overdose symptoms could include:

  • An upset stomach
  • Diarrhoea
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Allergic reactions

Ensure you discuss dietary supplementation with your Clicks pharmacist to avoid the potential for side effects and adverse interactions with medications.

The accuracy of this information was checked and approved by Clicks' pharmacist Waheed Abdurahman in February 2015