Articles

Bifidobacteria

Introduction

While many bacteria can affect the body negatively, a few kinds are actually essential for well-being. The friendly bifidobacteria fall into this second category. Bifidobacteria are necessary for the health of the digestive and gastrointestinal systems. These helpful guests also contribute in a number of other ways that can support overall health.

To date, 28 species of bifidobacteria have been isolated from the intestines of humans and animals. They exist primarily in the large intestine although some also inhabit the lower part of the small intestine.

Small amounts of bifidobacteria may be found in cultured food products such as yogurt and acidophilus milk. However, in order to be effective, larger quantities are needed in the form of supplements.

Dosage Info

Dosage Range

From 1-2 doses of 10 billion cfu (colony forming units) daily for maintenance. Doses up to 30 billion cfu/day may be required for individuals with bowel problems to recolonize the intestinal microflora following antibiotic therapy.

Most Common Dosage

10 billion cfu daily.

Dosage Forms

Capsules and powder.

Interactions and Depletions

Depletions

Reported Uses

While they can make us feel better, modern antibiotics are notorious for stripping the body of helpful intestinal bacteria. Bifidobacteria supplementation can be especially important after taking a regime of antibiotics to restore a healthy balance of intestinal bacteria. Doctors say that up to 30 billion cfu per day may be necessary to "recolonize" the intestines.

Bifidobacteria are instrumental in preventing the growth of unfavorable organisms in the body like yeasts and sickness-causing bacteria. They are especially useful in the treatment and prevention of vaginal infections. (1) They may also help protect against gastrointestinal infections while enhancing overall immunity. (2)

Bifidobacteria may promote the healthy function of the digestive system and aid the body in absorbing many vitamins. They have potential for decreasing cancer risk by decomposing certain carcinogens. Bifidobacteria may also be able to remove excess cholesterol from the intestines before it is absorbed by the body. (3)

In addition to these overall health benefits of bifidobacteria, there are some targeted clinical applications. Studies suggest that bifidobacteria can, in some cases, relieve infant diarrhea. (4) Finally, bifidobacteria may ease gas and flatulence. (5)

Toxicities & Precautions

Introduction

[span class=alert]Be sure to tell your pharmacist, doctor, or other health care providers about any dietary supplements you are taking. There may be a potential for interactions or side effects.[/span]

General

This dietary supplement is considered safe when used in accordance with proper dosing guidelines.

Pregnancy / Breast Feeding

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects related to fetal development during pregnancy or to infants who are breast-fed. Yet little is known about the use of this dietary supplement while pregnant or breast-feeding. Therefore, it is recommended that you inform your healthcare practitioner of any dietary supplements you are using while pregnant or breast-feeding.

Age Limitations

To date, the medical literature has not reported any adverse effects specifically related to the use of this dietary supplement in children. Since young children may have undiagnosed allergies or medical conditions, this dietary supplement should not be used in children under 10 years of age unless recommended by a physician.

References

  1. View Abstract: Charteris WP, et al. Antibiotic Susceptibility of Potentially Probiotic Bifidobacterium Isolates from the Human Gastrointestinal Tract. Lett Appl Microbiol. May1998;26(5):333-37.
  2. View Abstract: Schiffrin EJ, et al. Immune Modulation of Blood Leukocytes in Humans by Lactic Acid Bacteria: Criteria for Strain Selection. Am J Clin Nutr. Aug1997;66(2):515S-20S.
  3. View Abstract: Tahri K, et al. Bifidobacteria Strain Behavior Toward Cholesterol: Coprecipitation with Bile Salts and Assimilation. Curr Microbiol. Sept1996;33(3):187-93.
  4. View Abstract: Saavedra JM, et al. Feeding of Bifidobacterium bifidum and Streptococcus Thermophilus to Infants in Hospital for Prevention of Diarrhoea and Shedding of Rotavirus. Lancet. Oct1994;344(8929):1046-49.
  5. View Abstract: Jiang T, et al. Improvement of Lactose Digestion in Humans by Ingestion of Unfermented Milk Containing Bifidobacterium Longum. J Dairy Sci. May1996;79(5):750-57.