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How Much Probiotic Per Day Can You Give a Child?
  /   Dr. John Snow

How Much Probiotic Per Day Can You Give a Child?

Vitamin supplements can make nutrition easy and have plenty of health benefits. When you look at the label on a bottle of multivitamins, it clearly tells you the percentage of your daily value of each vitamin and mineral the supplement contains. You know when you’re meeting or exceeding your child’s target for important daily needs.

Probiotics can be tricky. Although they play an essential role in your child’s overall health, it’s not as easy to determine how much your child should take each day. Sometimes, it can be tricky to determine if your child even needs probiotics. Before you give your child a probiotic supplement, here’s what you should know.

What Are Probiotics?

There are billions of different types of bacteria and microorganisms in the world. Some of them are bad. They cause illness and infection. Some of them are good. They help the human body fulfill its functions and stay healthy.

Probiotics are good bacteria. There are many different strains of probiotics, and each plays an important role in maintaining healthy colonies of bacteria throughout the body. 

Probiotics naturally occur in fermented foods and drinks. Foods like yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles, and kimchi are valuable dietary sources of probiotics. People who regularly eat these probiotic foods may not need additional probiotics in the form of supplements to maintain a healthy gut. 

It’s always best to attempt to meet your family’s dietary needs through a well-balanced diet, but it’s not always feasible. Fermented foods are an acquired taste, and it can be hard to convince children that they’re healthy and delicious. Continue to offer them up and explain to your child how much you love those foods. Be a good dietary role model, and your child will likely follow your lead.

Children, picky eaters, and people who need a little help with digestion can benefit from supplemental probiotics, especially if they’re still learning to like gut-healthy foods. 

What Are the Benefits of Probiotics?

There are many different types of probiotics. Each type of probiotic has its own set of benefits. When most people talk about using probiotics, they’re referring to strains of probiotics that work to promote normal digestive health and a beneficial balance of gut bacteria.

Probiotics Support Digestive Health

Many people use probiotic bacteria in the lactobacillus family to support digestive health. Lactobacillus bacteria make it easier for the body to digest food and process nutrients. Many people find that probiotics help with digestive irregularity. 

Issues like bloating, constipation, and diarrhea need to be medically addressed. In many cases, incorporating probiotics into a comprehensive treatment plan can help to support digestive relief. Probiotics should be used in conjunction with other common-sense best practices, like drinking enough water, avoiding foods you’re allergic or intolerant to, and eating a diet with an adequate amount of fiber. 

Probiotics Can Help Restore Good Gut Bacteria

There are times when it’s necessary to use antibiotics. Antibiotics can help to kill the bad bacteria that cause illness or infection. The only problem is that antibiotics don’t know how to target those bacteria specifically. Instead, they’ll destroy any bacteria they find regardless of the role those bacteria play in your overall health. This includes the good bacteria your gut needs to function properly.

Probiotic supplementation or probiotic products can help counteract the bulldozer effect antibiotics have on healthy bacteria. Replenishing what you’ve lost makes you less likely to experience the digestive side effects that antibiotics often cause.

Are Probiotics Safe for Children?

There’s nothing about the use of probiotics that could be considered harmful for otherwise healthy children. Probiotics naturally occur in many healthy foods, and children will get small amounts of probiotics through their normal diets.

Children with compromised immune systems shouldn’t use probiotics or other supplements unless they’re using them under the guidance of a pediatrician. Children with bowel health conditions or who have had surgery affecting their digestive system should also get pediatrician approval before using probiotics. If your child would benefit from probiotics as a part of their long-term care plan for treating an underlying condition, your pediatrician will let you know.

Even though probiotics are safe for most kids, you should still ask your pediatrician before giving your child supplements. 

Do Children Need Probiotics?

Children can benefit from probiotics. There may be some circumstances (like post-antibiotic use) where probiotics can be a helpful solution. You can also use probiotics to support general digestive health. Always talk to your pediatrician first. In most cases, pediatricians will give parents the green light to incorporate probiotics into their children’s wellness routines.

How Much Probiotic Can a Kid Have Per Day?

Probiotics are measured in CFU or colony forming units. This refers to the total amount of good bacteria in a probiotic supplement. It takes a lot of bacteria to make a significant difference, and it might seem overwhelming to see that they’re measured in the billions. 

Most probiotic supplements have somewhere between 5 billion and 15 billion CFU. This amount is generally recognized as a safe daily amount for people of all ages, including children. Probiotics aren’t like vitamins or minerals. There is no recommended daily value of probiotics per day for people of any age. Probiotics are used as a supplement by people who enjoy their benefits, and there isn’t a magic target you’re trying to hit. 

There are no known serious adverse effects related to taking too much of a probiotic, but you should still be mindful. Some people can react to excessive probiotic intake by experiencing abdominal discomfort and gas. The amount it will take to cause gas can vary from person to person. Stick to a maximum of 15 billion CFU daily unless your child’s pediatrician recommends a different amount.

Can You Take Too Many Probiotics?

There’s no such thing as a probiotic overdose. Keeping probiotics out of reach of children and thoroughly explaining why they shouldn’t help themselves to vitamins, supplements, or medicines can prevent mishaps. Children need to know that supplements aren’t candy or treats. They’re an act of self-care that promotes wellness.

Excessive amounts of probiotics will vary from person to person. Some people won’t have any reaction at all. Other people may experience excessive gas or bloating. You should always call your doctor if you believe you’ve taken too many probiotics, but it’s rarely anything to be seriously concerned about. 

Do Probiotics Cause Side Effects?

Serious side effects from probiotics are very rare. Some people experience mild side effects from probiotic use. Since probiotics change the bacterial microbiome in the gut, changes in bathroom habits, gas, and bloating can sometimes occur.

If your child experiences side effects from using probiotics, they’ll typically resolve on their own. They should be mild and temporary. Call your pediatrician and stop giving your child probiotics if the pediatrician recommends that you hold off. 

When Should You Give Kids Probiotics?

Probiotics deliver their digestive benefits directly to the gut. It’s best to take probiotics with a balanced meal. As your child’s body begins to digest the meal, the probiotics can begin to work. They’ll settle into the gut and help the body efficiently process the food to waste. It’s best to give your child probiotics with their breakfast. This gives the probiotics enough time to work throughout the day. 

Probiotics aren’t a laxative. Your child won’t rush off to the bathroom after using probiotics. It usually takes a few weeks of daily probiotic use to see a meaningful improvement in gut health. If your child uses probiotics, they should use them daily. 

Can You Take Probiotics and Vitamins at the Same Time?

Some vitamins, minerals, supplements, and medications can compete for absorption. Taking certain supplements at the same time can reduce the potency or effectiveness of those supplements. You should always know when to take (or give) each supplement for maximum efficiency. 

If your child uses a daily multivitamin supplement, they can take it at the same time they take their probiotics. There are no interactions between the two supplements, and they won’t reduce the potency of each other. You can keep your mornings simple and dole out both at breakfast time. 

Hiya Supports Your Child’s Digestive Health

Hiya’s chewable, once-daily Kids Daily Probiotic contains 10 billion CFU of gut-healthy lactobacillus bacteria strains, as well as prebiotic fiber to promote probiotic activity in your child’s digestive system. Hiya is vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, eco-friendly, and made in the USA. We’ve made a probiotic that parents in all households can feel good about giving their kids. 

 

Sources:

Probiotics: What is it, Benefits, Side Effects, Food & Types | Cleveland Clinic

Gut Microbiome: Essential Tool for Digestion - and More | AMNH

Lactobacillus spp. for Gastrointestinal Health: Current and Future Perspectives | Frontiers in Immunology

Do antibiotics 'wipe out' your gut bacteria? | International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP)

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