Probiotics were first introduced to Americans in 2003 as a functional ingredient in dairy products, breakfast cereals and snacks. Although Americans were initially skeptical about ingesting live bacteria, the benefits far superseded any reservations, causing probiotics sales to quickly grow. In 2008, the probiotics sector was valued at over $1.5 billion-a significant growth of 160 percent, according to DataMonitor, a global business information provider.
Most people taking a probiotic supplement/drink do so for the sole purpose of supporting digestive health. Probiotics increase the colonization of beneficial bacteria in the intestines and limit the proliferation of pathogenic or disease-causing bacteria.1 An optimal intestinal microflora is believed not only to enhance digestion, but promote general health and boost immunity as well.
Because of the growing evidence of research supporting its benefits, consumer interest in probiotics products and supplements continues to rise.2-9
Probiotics Offer More than Digestive Health Support
Unknown to many, probiotics offer health benefits that go beyond the scope of supporting digestive health. Recent investigations show that specific strains of probiotics may be used to treat specific conditions. Here’s a list of benefits that have well-documented scientific support:
- A well-balanced intestinal microflora may help to regulate healthy cholesterol levels.10
- Probiotics, as part of a regular healthy diet, may help to support the immune system and mitigate illnesses. Probiotics may stimulate certain immune cells. This could help prevent stomach and respiratory infections in children as well as skin infections.11
- The use of probiotics in uro-vaginal infections is well-supported by clinical trials and research.12
- Probiotics may be used to promote oral health preventing tooth decay, particularly in children. Although this concept is relatively new, scientific support indicates probiotics therapy may hold a future in oral health.13
- Probiotics may also be prescribed to treat conditions that have baffled conventional science, such as Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), lactose intolerance, certain allergies and skin infections.14
Combination of Probiotics with Other Ingredients
Products that contain probiotics and a combination of other ingredients are gaining popularity since they offer wider benefits for health.
- Probiotics with Prebiotics15 The synbiotic combination of probiotics with prebiotics proliferates the growth of healthy microflora. Prebiotics are insoluble fiber, such as Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and inulin, which reach the colon in a fairly undigested state. It is in the colon that probiotics feed on prebiotics through a fermentation process that takes place in the colon. During this process, by-products called short-term fatty acids (SFA) are produced. SFAs help to maintain vital functions of the body and produce certain B vitamins.
- Probiotics with Enzymes16 Probiotics can be combined with enzymes that help break down food substances into simpler forms to enhance nutrient digestion. Although there is some debate over probiotics and enzymes should be taken together and it presents some challenges in manufacturing as well, there is still scope for a probiotics and enzymes product that has been well-formulated and manufactured using advanced technology.
- Probiotics with Multi-Vitamins17 Combining probiotics with a multi-vitamin is popular but poses challenges in manufacturing due to the sensitive nature of probiotics. Probiotics are sensitive to light, moisture, heat, oxygen.
How Probiotics Manufacturers Can Provide Retailers with Reliable Probiotics Supplements
The biggest challenge that probiotics manufacturers face is keeping the bacteria alive during the blending process while ensuring stability during shelf life. When combined with other ingredients that are equally sensitive, such as enzymes, extreme care should be taken to ensure that the manufacturing and packaging process take place in a dry environment. Any moisture may activate the enzymes and destroy the probiotics.
Microencapsulation is a fairly recent technology that ensures the survival of probiotics during manufacturing and storage by surrounding it with an outer coating. Microencapsulating protects probiotics from environmental contamination and prevents accidental mixing of probiotics with other ingredients in the formula that may compromise its stability.
Ensuring the Right Strain and Count
The health-conferring benefits of probiotics are strain-specific. Different strains have specific functions in the body and not all strains are beneficial to health. Probiotic formulators must be well-versed in probiotic strains and the use of appropriate strains for the desired condition-specific functions. Slight variation in the genetic profile of strains could produce undesirable results.
To make sure you are receiving the correct strain in your product, probiotic retailers may want their contract manufacturers to use branded probiotics. While branded probiotics tend to be more consistently reliable, quality supplement manufacturers who have a competent research team and stringent quality control checks at every level can also provide reliable strains and count.
Manufacturers should print clear instructions for use on the label. Some bacteria do not survive the acidic environment in the stomach or should not be eaten with hot (temperature) food. Product labels should also identify the genus, species and strain of the probiotics along with expiration date.
Customize Your Own Probiotic Formula!
A leading probiotics manufacturer like Nutricap Labs can provide you with a probiotic supplement that has the exact genus, strain and count. Our product advisors will work with you to create your own customized probiotics formula that meets the needs of your customers and can help you quickly establish yourself as a trusted brand in the marketplace.
Our GMP-certified facilities assure you of stringent manufacturing controls. We also provide in-house service options that no other probiotic manufacturer can provide you with such as product label and design, graphic design, storage and customer fulfillment services. If you’re ready with your requirements, you may submit a free quote request to us now or call (800) 494-6154 to speak with one of our product advisors.