Unlike pharmaceutical drugs, which are carefully calibrated for effect, probiotic supplements appear to be in a race to the top. Dosages have rocketed from millions to billions of CFUs, with some offering as many as 200 billion. How much do we need?

The accepted definition of probiotic clouds the answer:

“Live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.”

In this context, “adequate” is variable: a lower dose may work as well or even better than a higher dose, depending on the condition or disorder for which it is being used.

In a recent article for International Probiotics Association, I explored the evidence, looking at reviews and meta-analyses on the subject. See Probiotic Supplements: What is an Adequate Dosage?

The takeaway:

“Because probiotic characteristics are strain-specific, the choice will depend on an individual’s purpose for taking probiotics. The dose or CFU count should match the CFU level shown in an efficacy study to endow a benefit. One size certainly doesn’t fit all, making a broad recommendation of what is adequate virtually impossible. However, several conditions including AAD and high blood pressure show a positive correlation between the dose of probiotics and benefit.”