Written Jul 13th, 2016 by Franco Varriano
How ‘Shelf-Stable’ Probiotics Will Cool Your Concerns
Probiotics are live microorganisms that deliver a health benefit to the host.
Key to their function is remaining alive when being administered. This naturally brings into question the number of probiotic strains that are still viable by the time you receive your probiotics.
So, how does heat affect my probiotics?
When Élie Metchnikoff, the Russian scientist and Nobel laureate, first introduced the idea in 1907 that it would be possible to replace harmful microbes in the gut with useful microbes, there was very little technology to help do it effectively—SPOILER: he drank large amounts of sour milk. Since then, the study and implementation of probiotics has exploded; and the technology along with it.
Labs are now capable of producing probiotics that are deemed “Shelf-Stable”. Although definitions may vary slightly, it means that there are high-quality probiotic strains that do not need refrigeration to maintain viability.
Strains will vary in their sensitivity to heat, but there are probiotics that maintain a high degree of stability at room temperature for up to five months, after which, they start losing potency. This shows that contrary to what many think, probiotics do not quickly die off at room temperatures.
Of course, it is always recommended to refrigerate your probiotics if possible, but now you know that products may be taken out of the refrigerator for weeks or even months without a significant loss of viable organisms.
There are in fact safeguards—in addition to the guarantee of viability upon expiration—in place to ensure maximum viability of your probiotics. Cold packs may be included with your probiotics to extend the refrigeration from the manufacturing plant. They will help maintain excellent viability even if the cold packs are thawed. What’s more, many of the manufacturers will ship with “overages” so that even if small losses occur, you are still guaranteed the amount on the label.
Some companies, such as Ortho Biotic take even further measures to ensure potency. Their microorganisms are protected, sealed, and freeze dried away from moisture, heat, light and oxygen. This allows the bacteria to remain dormant until they are exposed to moisture in the GI tract.
For your own peace of mind, you can consider ordering with priority shipping on a Monday to ensure they won’t be delayed over the weekend. Upon arrival, refrigerate them as soon as you get the chance.
refrigeration is recommended, but not always required.
NOTE: vitamins are also safe when not refrigerated. They can withstand heat and light exposure. For long term storage, consider placement in a dark and dry area.