Bifidobacterium Strain Reduces Risk of Colds

Joanna Scott-Lutyens BA (Hons) DipION

A recent randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trial has reported the potential benefits of Bifidobacterium lactis Bl-04® supplementation, which is associated with a significant 27% reduction in the risk of any Upper Respiratory Tract Infection (URTI) compared to a placebo.

woman with cold

Study shows potential for BI-04® bacteria strain to reduce the risk of catching the common cold

Upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs), also known as the common cold, plague many of us each year; generally adults will suffer from two to three colds per year, whereas young children will experience as many as four or five per year.

The study involved 465 participants, comprised of 241 males and 224 females. They were divided into three groups, and two groups were requested to take different combinations of live cultures as a probiotic supplement. One group took a single strain ofBidifobacterium lactis Bl-04® bacteria, the second group took a combination of Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM® and Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07® and the third group took a placebo supplement. The results of this study are very clear in demonstrating that the risk of an upper respiratory illness was markedly lower in the Bl-04® group. In the group taking the Bl-04® strain of bacteria, the risk of contracting a URTI was reduced by a very impressive 27%.

microscopic bacteria

Bifidobacterium lactis BI-04® showed a 27% reduction in URTI in the trial

Interestingly, a recent meta-analysis on vitamin C supplementation in the prevention of the common cold in the general population was reported to be not significant. Therefore, as this study indicates, supplementation with live cultures is potentially more beneficial than taking Vitamin C in reducing the risk of contracting the common cold.

This study was carried out using 2 billion BI-04 live cultures, and supports the evidence that supplementation with certain strains (visit the Probiotics Learning Lab for more) of live cultures can have benefits in reducing risk of URTI in otherwise healthy adults. Reducing the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections will clearly have positive implications for overall health and wellbeing, and we are very pleased that the potential benefits of the Bl-04® bacteria strain has been documented.

We have previously written about the potential benefits of Bl-04®. If you would like to read more scientific research about BI-04®, or other strains, see the Probiotics Database.

You can find all of the strains mentioned in this article in Every Day EXTRA.


  1. West, N. P., Horn, P. L., Pyne, D. B., Gebski, V. J., Lahtinen, S. J., Fricker, P. A., & Cripps, A. W. (2014). Probiotic supplementation for respiratory and gastrointestinal illness symptoms in healthy physically active individuals. Clinical nutrition (Edinburgh, Scotland), 33(4): 581–587.