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Probiotic Pearls vs Chewables: What's the Best Probiotics for Kids?

How to Choose the Best Probiotics for Kids

Probiotics can play an essential role in your overall health and well-being, and they’re not just for adults. Adding probiotics into your kid’s diet can offer a wide variety of potential benefits that can help your child develop into a healthy and strong adult, but determining the best probiotics for kids can be challenging. Learn more about how to choose good probiotics for kids and the types of probiotics your child should use below.

Chewable Probiotics

Probiotic Gummies

Probiotic Pearls

Probiotic Drops

Probiotic Powders

Probiotic Capsules

Number of Strains

High

Low

Medium

Low

High

High

Dose in CFUs

High

Low

Medium

Low

High

High

Stomach Acid Resistance

Low

Low

High

Low

Low

High*

 Age

3+

2+

3+

Infants+

Infants+

12+

Chewable probiotics are good for supporting oral and good health. However, their exposed nature is vulnerable to stomach acid. Make sure there are acid resistant probiotics in your chewable probiotic such as Lactobacillus, Bacillus, and Saccharomyces boulardii.

Probiotic gummies are limited in the number of probiotics they can be made with. Only Bacillus probiotics are able to survive the gummy production process. We recommend using a chewable probiotic instead.

Probiotic pearls are able to protect probiotics from stomach acid but are limited in the amount of probiotics they can carry because the pearl material takes up a lot of space. While they are good for supporting digestive health they are not the best oral probiotics because they taste bad when chewed.

Probiotic drops are limited by the number and doses of probiotics they can feature. We recommend using a probiotic powder instead and making your own probiotic drops.

Probiotic powders supply a high dose and diversity of probiotics but do not protect the probiotics from stomach acid.

*Probiotic capsules that are enteric coated to resist stomach acid are the best way to get a high dose of the most effective probiotics. However, younger children can have a hard time swallowing capsules.


Pros and Cons of Chewable Probiotic Tablets

Chewable tablets are generally easy for your child to take as they come in a variety of pleasant flavors and dissolve easily in the mouth with a few bites. This makes it convenient for children who are old enough to eat solid foods. Chewable probiotics are also beneficial for oral health as the probiotics colonize the mouth and compete against bacteria that cause cavities and bad breath. Chewable tablets offer a high number of probiotic strains.

However, chewable probiotics get exposed to stomach acids when they are swallowed. Although there are acid-resistant probiotic strains, some cannot survive the stomach acids, preventing them from reaching the gut where most of your beneficial bacteria reside. Therefore, if you choose a chewable probiotic, pick one that is diverse and contains acid resistant probiotics.

Pros and Cons of Probiotic Gummies

Gummies look and taste exactly like your kid’s favorite sweet treats, making them easy to administer on a regular basis. They may not be appropriate for infants, and the strains used in gummies can be limited. Furthermore, not many probiotics are heat-resistant. In fact, only Bacillus probiotic strains can survive the heating process involved in making the gummies. Probiotic strains in gummies will also get exposed to stomach acids. Since the strains of probiotics in gummies are limited, choose gummies that also contain a variety of nutrients and vitamins.

Pros and Cons of Probiotic Pearls

Pearls comprise small bead-like supplements. Pearls also offer a special coating that can protect the probiotics from the stomach acids. However, the amount of probiotic strains included can be limited based on the size of the pearl. While they are easy to take, pearls still present a small choking hazard, and they present an unpleasant taste if your child bites down on them.

Pros and Cons of Probiotic Drops

Liquid probiotics are usually formulated for babies are likely the easiest and most convenient to administer. Probiotic drops come in a variety of different flavors. However, they are usually formulated with a limited number of probiotic strains. Most probiotic drops just contain the probiotic species Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG.

There are also concerns about shelf life as probiotics in a liquid are live organisms that need food to survive. Probiotic drops also fail to protect most probiotic strains from stomach acids and digestive juices.

Pros and Cons of Probiotic Powders

Powders offer a general ease of delivery that allow you to customize the serving size based on your child’s personal needs. They are easy to sprinkle into foods and drinks and offer a nearly unlimited number of different probiotic strains. However, probiotic strain survival can be a large drawback. Along with the lack of protection from stomach acids, probiotic survival in powders decreases as soon as the product is opened and exposed to air. Therefore, choose a powder probiotic that is protected and dosed by a coating. This minimizes air exposure before consumption. A good one is DrFormulas Probiotics Powder for Kids.

Pros and Cons of Probiotic Capsules

Capsules offer a high number of probiotic strains and feature protective coatings to ensure the survival of the probiotics well into the gut. This makes it potentially the best form of probiotics. However, the biggest drawback to capsules for kids is the age restriction. Not all kids are capable of swallowing capsules.

What we recommend:

Probiotics are an important addition to your child’s diet, offering potential benefits to their oral health, gut health, digestion, and immune system. Each child is different and has different needs. Do your research to determine the best probiotic to support your child’s development for years to come.

Other Considerations When Looking for the Best Probiotic for Children

1. Diversity of Strains

The human gastrointestinal tract contains over 500 different probiotic species and countless more specific strains within those species.1 Each bacterial strain has its own needs and creates its own by-products. Maintaining a diverse microflora allows you to take full advantage of each strain’s potential benefits to support your child’s health. The best probiotic supplements should contain multiple different strains that are clearly named on the label.

2. CFUs

Most health supplements are measured by milligrams, but weight doesn’t show an accurate measure of bacteria in a probiotic. CFUs, or colony forming units, measure the number of active bacteria in a probiotic supplement. The exact serving that your child needs can vary based on what you want for their health. Common serving sizes for children range from 5 to 10 billion CFUs per day, while adult servings are at least 10 billion CFUs.2 As probiotics are generally considered safe, it’s best to aim for around 10 billion CFUs.

3. Flavors

With any food or snack, flavors are important. If your kids don’t like how a probiotic supplement tastes, it’ll be harder to actually get them to take the supplement regularly. Good probiotics for kids should taste pleasant and offer a variety of flavors from natural, non-artificial sources.

4. Reputable Company

A product is only as good as its company. Search for a company that is reputable and uses high-quality, proven ingredients and shows documentation of testing and research. Going with a less reputable company may result in using probiotic supplements that are less effective or aren’t true to their labels.

5. Type

Probiotics for kids come in a variety of different types and forms that each come with their own pros and cons.

 

Sources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3424311/
  2. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2008/1101/p1073.html