Can you overdose on probiotics?

Kathy Wheddon Nutritional Therapist DipION

Taking too many probiotics or 'overdosing' on good bacteria is an extremely difficult thing to do.

The human gut is home to roughly 100 trillion bacteria, whereas most probiotic supplements on the UK market contain 1.2 to 50 billion microorganisms per dose (depending on the product). Yoghurt drinks typically contain 6 to 10 billion bacteria.

Overdosing – can you take too many probiotics?

There is absolutely no harm in taking probiotics in the long term, and there is generally no harm in increasing one's dose of a probiotic supplement if you feel the need. It's worth bearing in mind that a very large amount of a Saccharomyces boulardii probiotic could possibly lead to temporary constipation in some cases. Healthcare professionals can learn more about the research behind Saccharomyces boulardii on the Probiotics Database. 

Optibac probiotics
The human gut is home to roughly 100 trillion bacteria, so it's almost impossible to overdose on your favourite probiotic supplement.

Overdosing on prebiotics

Taking a large amount of prebiotics (the food source for probiotics) may at first result in bloating or flatulence. This is a positive sign that the prebiotics are working; however if symptoms persist for longer than a few days then consider reducing one's dose of prebiotics and gradually building it up again. Learn more about prebiotics by reading the article: What are prebiotics?

For more information, healthcare professionals can also read the following article: Is there a risk of addiction/dependency with probiotics?

Note: Probiotics are not recommended for those with serious medical conditions eg. those who are severely immunosuppressed, have pancreatitis, are in the ICU, have melaena, have a central venous catheter, infants with short bowel syndrome, or to patients with open wounds following major surgery; unless under a doctor's care. Furthermore, pregnant or breastfeeding women should consult their doctor before taking certain supplements. To read more about the contraindications, you may wish to read 'When should I not take probiotics?'

For more in-depth information on probiotics, read:

Why consider probiotic supplements over yoghurts?

Are probiotics safe to take?