Probiotics are often recommended for adults, but are probiotics healthy for children?

Most people only think of probiotics as a way to improve their gut health, but they offer a host of other benefits as well. Probiotics have been shown to improve cognitive function, reduce inflammation, and even protect against cancer.

Probiotics help fight off bad bacteria, improve digestion, and boost the immune system.

Adding probiotics to your child’s diet is a great way to help them stay healthy now and into the future. Probiotics can be found in many different foods, including yogurt, cheese, sauerkraut, and miso soup.

You can also give your child a probiotic supplement if you’re not sure they’re getting enough probiotics from their diet.

What are probiotics?

Bacteria have a poor reputation, but they aren’t all harmful. Certain microorganisms are required by your body to maintain its health. Bacteria aid in digestion, nutrient absorption, and the fight against pathogens that cause illness.

A microbiome is a colony of bacteria that lives within your body. It consists of both healthy and dangerous bacteria, viruses, and fungus. They are alive:

  • on your body
  • in your stomach
  • in your urinary tract
  • within your saliva

Infection and sickness can arise when the balance of beneficial to bad microorganisms in your microbiome is skewed. Antibiotics, for example, eliminate infection-causing microorganisms.

However, it also eliminates some of the beneficial bacteria that keep the bad bacteria in check. This allows other harmful organisms to multiply and take over, perhaps resulting in secondary illnesses. Yeast infections, urinary tract infections, and intestinal infections are all common secondary infections.

Probiotics are living, beneficial bacteria that are naturally found in your body. They may contain only one type of bacteria or a mixture of multiple types.

Young girl taking a probiotic to improve her immunity
Young girl taking a probiotic to improve her immunity

Should probiotics be included in your child’s diet?

Children’s microbiomes evolve in the womb and throughout early childhood. Many diseases are thought to be caused by an unhealthy microbiome. It is unknown how probiotics contribute to the health of the microbiome, even though we know they are beneficial.

Probiotics are a well-known natural cure for children. Probiotics are the third most popular natural product among youngsters, according to the 2012 National Health Interview Survey.

More research is needed to determine the advantages and hazards of probiotic use in youngsters. Some studies are encouraging:

  • According to an American Family Physician review, probiotics may help cure inflammatory bowel disease. They may help shorten the length of gastroenteritis-related diarrhea. Probiotics may prevent the development of eczema and allergies in infants when given to pregnant and breastfeeding moms.
  • According to a study published in JAMA Pediatrics, feeding probiotics to infants during their first three months of life may help avoid colic, constipation, and acid reflux.
  • A research review from 2015 concluded that probiotics were found to be more effective than placebo in lowering the occurrence and duration of upper respiratory tract infections in research participants. Antibiotic use and absenteeism from school due to colds were also reduced.

Anecdotal evidence supports the use of probiotics in children. However, the health advantages may vary according to the strain. A strain that is beneficial to one condition may be ineffective against another.

As a result (and due to a dearth of study), there is no clear answer as to whether you should provide probiotics to your child, especially for long periods of time.

Giving probiotics to children carries some risks. Children with weakened immune systems may become infected, as well as others may have gas and bloating. Probiotics can have dangerous negative effects on critically ill neonates so before giving your child probiotic supplements, consult with your pediatrician.

Supplements vs. probiotic foods: what’s better?

Some foods, such as yogurt and cultured cottage cheese, contain probiotics. They are found naturally in fermented foods such as buttermilk, kefir, and sauerkraut. Another source is raw cheese made from unpasteurized milk.

Although some experts believe that raw milk and raw milk products have health benefits, they should not be offered to youngsters. Bacteria can be found in raw milk. It has the potential to induce life-threatening diseases.

If you’re wondering if probiotic supplements or foods are superior, the answer isn’t simple. It is normally best to get nutrients from complete foods. However, in the case of probiotics, your youngster may not be able to obtain enough through diet alone.

Food probiotics may be destroyed during the manufacturing and storage processes. There’s no way of knowing how many survived unless you had a lab in your kitchen.

Probiotic supplements are similarly beneficial. Products in the supplement industry are not all made equal. Supplements are not strictly monitored. When you buy probiotic supplements, you expect the product to include what it claims. In fact, you may not always get what you expect to obtain.

4 Notable brands to try

Only purchase supplements from reliable companies. Before using, double-check the expiration date. Examine the storage requirements to determine whether the product requires refrigeration as not all probiotics need to be refrigerated.

If your doctor suggests giving your child probiotics, explore the following options:

ProVen Probiotics for Kids offers a strawberry and vanilla flavored chewable with vitamin C and D. Backed by years of research and guaranteed potency to end of shelf-life.

Pro-Ven Probiotics Childrens Probiotic with Vitamin C for Immune Support Digestive Support 12.5 Billion CFU Fit for School Suitable for Ages 4-16 Strawberry Chewable Tablet - 30 Capsules
  • FOR SCHOOL AGED CHILDREN - Specially formulated for children aged 4-16 years old. Each tablet contains 12.5 billion of the unique Lab4 probiotics combined with vitamin C specifically to provide support for your child’s immune function as well as digestive support.
  • LESS TIME OFF SCHOOL - Proven to reduce the incidence and duration of coughs and colds in children.
  • ONE A DAY - Chewable tablets with a delicious strawberry flavor that can be taken straight after a meal or snack. They contain no added artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
  • 12.5 BILLION CFU – Each capsule is packed full of 12.5 Billion CFU of Lab4B probiotics, a group of four probiotic strains, which are supported by a unique body of clinical research that show the widest range of clinically-proven benefits of any probiotics consortium in the world.
  • GUARANTEED POTENCY – Our probiotics are guaranteed to keep their potency until the end of their shelf life, they also don’t need to be refrigerated and can be stored at room temperature.

Garden of Life for Kids offers an organic berry-flavored chewable containing 14 strains such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium along with vitamins C and D.

Garden of Life Dr. Formulated Probiotics Organic Kids+ Plus Vitamin C & D - Berry Cherry - Gluten, Dairy & Soy Free Immune & Digestive Health Supplement, No Added Sugar, 30 Chewables (Shelf Stable)
  • DOCTOR FORMULATED IMMUNE SUPPORT FOR KIDS: Supports immune system and digestive health with 5 billion CFU and 14 probiotic strains, prebiotics and Whole Food vitamins C and D, all in one yummy chewable tablet that is gluten free, dairy free and soy free
  • GLUTEN-FREE DIGESTION SUPPORT: This 5 Billion CFU once daily probiotic supplement contains Lactobacillus acidophilus, gasseri, paracasei, and plantarum as well as Bifidobacterium (Bifidobacteria) lactis, breve, infantis, and bifidum for digestive health
  • WHOLE FOOD VITAMINS FOR KIDS: One-a-day Tasty Organic Berry Cherry flavor chewable probiotics for kids contain 30mg of Whole Food Vitamin C from Organic Amla Berry plus 400 IU of Whole Food Vitamin D, for added immune support—with no added sugar
  • PROBIOTIC POTENCY GUARANTEED THROUGH EXPIRATION: We begin with high levels of probiotics to ensure viability, even if the product is warm for a few days during shipment—especially during summer or in warmer climates; Shelf stable, no need to refrigerate!
  • PREBIOTIC SUPPLEMENT: This prebiotic supplement contains Organic Acacia fiber and whole Cranberry—prebiotics which help good bacteria in the gut thrive; Dr. Formulated Probiotics for Kids is certified Organic, Non-GMO and Gluten Free and Vegetarian

LoveBug Probiotics for Kids offers a chewable, natural berry-flavored probiotic containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, Bifidobacterium lactis, and Lactobacillus acidophilus.

lovebug PROBIOTICS for Kids | Multi-Strain 10 Billion CFU | Constipation & Stomach Discomfort | Sugar Free | Ages 4+ | Natural Berry Flavor | 30 Chewables
  • 1 BOTTLE, 30 CHEWABLES: These chewable probiotic tablets for kids have a fruity berry flavor everyone loves.
  • MULTI STRAIN SUPPORT WITH ADDED FIBER: Diversity in strains promote a balanced & healthy digestive system for your child and the added fiber feeds the probiotics for multifaceted support!
  • SUPPORTS DIGESTIVE & IMMUNE HEALTH: Helps with gas, bloating, constipation, digestive upset, diarrhea & immune support.*
  • NATURAL INGREDIENTS: Made in the USA, Non-GMO, Free of the 8 Major Allergens, No Sugar. Our proprietary formula uses only the best ingredients determined by our researchers to provide optimal benefits to children.
  • LOVEBUG - THE TRUSTED NAME IN PROBIOTICS : Created by a mom, for moms & trusted by moms everywhere, our staged-line of probiotics has you covered for the whole family. All of our products are third-party tested and manufactured in cGMP registered facilities to the highest quality standards.

Culturelle’s Probiotics for Kids contain Lactobacillus GG in individual packets. They’re flavorless and may be added to your child’s favorite drink or food.

Culturelle Kids Probiotic + Fiber Packets (Ages 3+) - 60 Count - Digestive Health & Immune Support - Helps Restore Regularity
  • FROM THE PEDIATRICIAN RECOMMENDED PROBIOTIC BRAND: Culturelle Kids Probiotic + Fiber flavorless, dissolvable packets contain a safe, non-irritating formula that works naturally with your child’s body to promote regularity & healthy digestion
  • PROVEN PROBIOTIC STRAIN: formulated with 2.5 billion CFUs of the #1 clinically studied probiotic strain, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG plus 3.5 grams of fiber naturally sourced from wheat, fruit & vegetables
  • SUPPORTS A HEALTHY MICROBIOME: Your child’s microbiome is essential to their overall health; The bacteria that live in the gut microbiome is linked to digestive health, cognition, mood, & the immune system
  • SAFE & EASY TO TAKE: Take one (1) packet up to three times daily; For best results, mix one (1) packet into food such as yogurt or applesauce; Do not add to hot food or beverage
  • INGREDIENTS YOU CAN FEEL GREAT ABOUT: Complement your child's healthy lifestyle with a safe, effective & drug-free formula that is also sugar-free, non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan, & dairy-free, working naturally with your child’s body

In conclusion

Are Probiotics Healthy for Children?

In healthy infants and children, probiotics may help reduce acute constipation, colic, and acid reflux. They may also aid in the prevention of secondary infections and diarrhea in children who are taking antibiotics. Probiotics may even help some youngsters avoid eczema and allergies.

If you believe probiotics may benefit your children, ask your doctor the following questions:

  • What benefits do probiotics have for your child?
  • How long should you give these to your child before you notice a difference?
  • Should your child quit taking vitamins if he or she does not experience immediate results?
  • How much should your youngster take?
  • What brand do they suggest?
  • Is there any reason why my child should not use probiotics?

Because the long-term effects of probiotics on children are uncertain, children should not use probiotic supplements as a prophylactic measure unless prescribed by a doctor.

Instead, include probiotic items like yogurt in your child’s diet to help maintain a healthy microbiome. Check the label to ensure that the yogurt you buy has “live and active cultures.”

A quick reminder .. aim to provide the most up-to-date information, help, and advice for YOU to make informed decisions. If you are unsure or uncertain and require more clarity, please reach out to us and we will gladly come back and advise you as best we can.

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