What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are ‘good bacteria’ that are beneficial to the overall health of humans. These live bacteria are found in fermented foods like yogurt and kefir as well as in probiotic supplements. The main function of probiotics is to boost your immune system and digestive health by restoring the balance of bacteria in your gut. As per the World Health Organization, probiotics are defined as “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” (1) The health benefits can only be enjoyed when these dietary supplements contain live and active cultures.
Now that we’ve covered what probiotics are and how they work, we’ll look at some key differences between probiotics for adults and probiotics for kids, the various specific formulations for each group, and how they’re beneficial.
Probiotics for Kids
Infants are first introduced to probiotic bacteria when they pass through the vaginal canal during childbirth. The gut flora of a child greatly depends on the gut flora of the mother—in fact, the mother passes her gut microbiome to her child. If the mother is on antibiotics or has an imbalanced level of beneficial to harmful bacteria, chances are her kids will also have the same imbalance. This is one of the reasons why giving probiotic supplements to children is very essential. If a child is born through C-section, he or she will not be introduced to good gut flora and will be in need of probiotic supplements.
Here are some of the health challenges infants and kids face and how probiotics can help overcome or mitigate them.
Weak Immune System
Approximately 70% of the entire immune system is located in the gastrointestinal mechanism. (2) A gut bacteria imbalance could very well affect your overall immune response. If you want to boost your child’s immune system, giving them a probiotic supplement or fermented food is a great way to do so.
A number of digestive tract problems such as colic, diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s Disease, acid reflux, and chronic constipation have been linked to an imbalance in gut flora. Taking probiotic supplements helps restore the balance and in turn, may help ease these tummy troubles. A recent study found that probiotics had a positive effect on children who had constipation by increasing the stool frequency. (3)
Probiotics may actually help in solving weight issues in children. Recent research suggests that prebiotics may be able to reduce body fat in children who are overweight. (4) (Prebiotics are foods which are consumed by probiotics for fuel.) The prebiotics are thought to be able to do this by altering the gut microbiome of children.
Brain Development and Skin Problems
Studies have shown that there is a relationship between gut flora and brain functioning. According to another study, the skin becomes more vulnerable to infection and inflammation when the gut flora is imbalanced. (5) Children’s skin is particularly susceptible to skin problems like rashes, baby acne, and eczema. There has been some evidence that using probiotics can reduce the risk of children developing eczema. (6)
Benefits of Probiotics for Adults
If you’ve ever taken antibiotics, chances are that there is an imbalance between good and bad bacteria in your gut. This is because antibiotics kill bacteria indiscriminately, including the good kind. Some of the other reasons to consider taking a daily probiotic as an adult include:
May reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases
Various scientists have theorized that probiotics can help lower your cholesterol, thereby, reducing your risk of cardiovascular diseases. One study has tried to examine the mechanism through which probiotics reduces cholesterol in the body. (7)
Takes care of antibiotic-associated diarrhea
One of the side-effects of antibiotic use for pneumonia or some other health condition is developing diarrhea. Research has shown that probiotics can help in reducing Clostridium difficile–associated diarrhea (CDAD) without any adverse effects. (8)
Promotes a Healthy Immune System
Even generally healthy people get sick on occasion. Probiotic supplements can help minimize these occurrences. Several strains of probiotics boost your immune system and help you fight infections such as flu and the common cold. A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies found that probiotics like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium were effective in lessening the duration of acute respiratory infectious conditions, both in adults and children. (9)
Specific Benefits for Women
Women have a unique set of needs that probiotics can address. For instance, women are more prone to urinary tract infections (UTIs), which probiotics can help reduce and prevent. Probiotic supplements also offer pre and post-natal support and can lessen IBS symptoms (a condition women are 3x more likely to experience).
Probiotics for Adults vs. Children: The Difference
While probiotics have numerous health benefits for all age groups, there are differences in the probiotics used for kids and those used for adults. The first difference is the type of bacterial strains used in the supplements. For example, Bifidobacterium infantis is a probiotic strain that is predominantly used for infants (as it helps break down lactic acid in breast milk). On the other hand, Bifidobacterium bifidum and Lactobacillus GG are the most common strains used in adult probiotic supplements.
Another difference between the probiotics for kids and adults is the potency and the dosage of the supplement. While probiotic supplements given to kids is mild and the dosage is usually one sphere (or tablet) per day, the probiotic supplement of adults is more potent and dosage is usually two tablets per day. If you are ever unsure on the dosage you should be giving to your little one, consult your child’s pediatrician.
Type of Supplement
Last but not least is the way the supplement is administered. Child probiotics usually come in the form of a liquid, a sphere, a chewable tablet, or a powder that can be mixed with their food. Because kids are often tasting these supplements, liquid/powder/chewable probiotics often contain unwanted ingredients such as artificial sweeteners to make them more appealing to kids tastebuds. For adults, the supplements are generally in the form of probiotic capsules or tablets.
LoveBug Probiotics offers probiotic products for people of all ages. Tiny Tummies is our specially targeted infant formula for babies and toddlers up to 4 years of age, whereas Little Ones are for 4 year-olds and up.
Adults can choose between 4 probiotic formulas: Here’s the Skinny (for healthy digestive system), Cold Sucks (for immune health), Yeast is a Beast (for yeast infections/women’s health), and Labor of Love (for pre and post-natal health) based upon their specific health problems or need.
With 15x the survivability of other supplements, more of the colony forming units (CFUs) are able to make it past your harsh stomach acids and reach the lower GI-Tract where they work their magic improving your gut health.
In addition to containing more of the good bacteria your body needs, the best probiotic supplements are also free of any unwanted ingredients. For a kids probiotic, it’s especially important that they are sugar-free and do not contain those nasty chemicals or additives. LoveBug Probiotics are do not contain any of these, plus they are GMO, soy, dairy, nut, and gluten-free, meaning they are gentle on your child’s stomach as well as yours!
Probiotics could be the answer to getting your health back on track. Incorporating a mix of probiotic foods and a high-quality supplement translates to more healthy kids and adults alike.
- Araya, Magdalena, Lorenzo Morelli, Gregor Reid, Mary Ellen Sanders, Catherine Stanton, Maya Pineiro, and Peter Ben Embarek. Health and Nutrition Properties of Probiotics in Food including Powder Milk with Live Lactic Acid Bacteria. FAO Food and Nutrition Paper, 2001. http://www.fao.org/3/a-a0512e.pdf.
- Vighi, G., F. Marcucci, L. Sensi, G. Di Cara, and F. Frati. “Allergy and the gastrointestinal system.” Clinical and Experimental Immunology 153, no. Suppl 1 (2008): 3-6. doi: http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2249.2008.03713.x.
- Huang, Ruixue and Jianan Hu. “Positive Effect of Probiotics on Constipation in Children: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Six Randomized Controlled Trials.” Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology 7, (2017): 153. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2017.00153.
- Nicolucci, Alissa C., Megan P. Hume, Inés Martínez, Shyamchand Mayengbam, Jens Walter, and Raylene A. Reimer. “Prebiotics Reduce Body Fat and Alter Intestinal Microbiota in Children Who Are Overweight or With Obesity.” Gastroenterology 153, no. 3 (2017): 711-722. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2017.05.055.
- Juhlin, L and G Michaëlsson. “Fibrin microclot formation in patients with acne.” Acta Derm Venereol 63, no. 6 (1983): 538-40. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6198846.
- Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care. Eczema in children: Can prebiotics or probiotics help prevent it?. Informed Health Online. Last modified 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279400/.
- Kumar, Manoj, Ravinder Nagpal, Rajesh Kumar, R. Hemalatha, Vinod Verma, Ashok Kumar, Chaitali Chakraborty, et al. “Cholesterol-Lowering Probiotics as Potential Biotherapeutics for Metabolic Diseases.” Exp Diabetes Res, (2012): 902-917. doi: 10.1155/2012/902917.
- Johnston, Bradley C., Stephanie S.Y. Ma, Joshua Z. Goldenberg, Kristian Thorlund, Per O. Vandvik, Mark Loeb, and Gordon H. Guyatt. “Probiotics for the Prevention of Clostridium difficile–Associated Diarrhea: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.” Annals of Internal Medicine 157, (2012): 878–888. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-157-12-201212180-00563.
- King, Sarah, Julie Glanville, Mary Ellen Sanders, Anita Fitzgerald, and Danielle Varley. “Effectiveness of probiotics on the duration of illness in healthy children and adults who develop common acute respiratory infectious conditions: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Br J Nutr 112, no. 1 (2014): 41–54. doi: 10.1017/S000711451400007.