Top 5 Best Vegan Probiotics – Buying Guide
TV advertising can lead us to believe that yogurt has the monopoly on probiotics, or that these helpful organisms are only present in special dairy products. However, this simply isn’t true - humans have been consuming probiotics for healthy digestive systems since the beginning of time.
Only now are these friendly bacteria starting to step into the limelight of the food advertising world.
But even though we know probiotics are helpful, there isn’t a lot of mainstream information out there about the logistics of it all.
List of Vegan Probiotic Brands
On the surface all this information seems simple enough to follow but can make the search exhausting. In an effort to make things clear and straightforward, we’ve compiled a list of the top vegan-friendly probiotic supplements available on the market.
Sticking with any of these brands will not only aid in better gut health, but will leave you with a clear conscience.
CFU (per serving)
Capsules per bottle
Royal Organica Probiotic Capsules contain vegan-friendly pre-biotics to jump-start the process, then use 12 clinically proven bacteria strains to heal both the stomach and large intestine.
In addition to pre- and pro-biotics, these capsules also offer one full gram of the essential amino acid L-Glutamine, which plays a key role in the repair and maintenance of healthy intestinal tissue.
The vegetarian capsules also have a thicker coating than traditional capsules, meaning a higher percentage of live probiotics will reach your intestines where they can get to work. There are two capsules in a serving.
What We Love
The inclusion of a prebiotic in these capsules make a huge difference in the effectiveness of the probiotic as a whole. Prebiotics are essentially food for probiotics, and this ensures that a larger amount of the living bacteria will make it into your stomach and intestines. Additionally, users note that they have less bloating and don’t get sick as often when taking these vegan probiotics.
Each serving is two capsules, which means that you’ll go through the bottle a little more quickly if you’re taking a full serving each day.
BioPro-50 Probiotics cram 50 billion live beneficial bacteria cultures and 11 probiotic strains into each easy-to-swallow gluten-free capsule.
The bottle can be left out at room temperature, and the live organisms are specially formulated to stay alive longer without refrigeration, so you’re always ingesting the live cultures when you take the supplement. These capsules are made in the United States in FDA & GMP certified facilities.
What We Love
Users note that this probiotic helps a lot with bloating, and only after a few days, people notice marked differences in bloating, regularity, and gas issues. This product is also beloved by people who suffer from symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome.
These capsules can have a very strong “herby” smell - while some people noted that the smell didn’t bother them, others found the smell overwhelming, like a moldy basement. If you’re very sensitive to smell, this will be important to keep in mind.
NOW Foods Probiotics boast a high potency and balanced spectrum of 10 strains of beneficial bacteria to help support healthy digestive systems.
Each capsule delivers 25 billion stomach acid-resistant organisms and includes FOS as prebiotics to keep those organisms alive and strong. The capsules are dairy, wheat, soy, and gluten-free.
What We Love
With over 1,000 reviews on Amazon, these little probiotics come highly rated, and the vast majority of people note a difference in their digestive health. It’s also very convenient that these probiotics don’t need to be kept in the refrigerator, meaning you can leave them out on the kitchen or bathroom counter and be more likely to take them.
The bottle comes with 50 capsules, which can be inconvenient considering the standard dosage is 1-2 capsules per day. This off number means having to buy the bottles more frequently, and it’s not a simple bottle-per-month use.
Origin Essentials Probiotic contains 200% more CFUs per serving than other probiotic supplements, and it promotes digestive health, relief from gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.
Additionally, it helps in recovery from chronic fatigue syndrome, gut illnesses caused by stress, irritable bowel syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease. This probiotic supplement is 100% dairy free, vegan, and gluten-free, so it’s safe for people with wheat sensitivities and celiac disease.
What We Love
It can be hard to find capsules that are 100% gluten-free, as many manufacturers use additives to give the capsules their shape and fill them out. We love that these are completely free of wheat and gluten, so even people with multiple food sensitivities can benefit from their good bacteria!
As much as we love what this capsule doesn’t include, there is some concern over what it does include. The ingredient list is a little on the long side and contains some questionable ingredients like propylene glycol and cellulose. However, for the price, it’s definitely worth a try.
The Deva line of vitamins and supplements carries many items that are clearly marked for vegans, but their probiotics are clearly labeled, so they are extra-sensitive to vegan needs.
Deva Vegan Probiotic is made from the strain Bacillus coagulans, which is not grown on dairy. Bacillus coagulans are also shelf stable and has a high survival rate in stomach acid, meaning more live probiotics make it to your intestines.
The Deva probiotics also contain prebiotics, a food source for probiotics which makes them stronger and more likely to get to where they need to go.
What We Love
Every bottle is clearly marked to be sensitive to dietary needs and food allergies. These vegan probiotic supplements are completely free of yeast, soy, wheat, gluten, starch, sugar, salt, dairy, egg, fish, and artificial colors, making them safe for nearly anyone to use. We also love that Deva notes that all ingredients are from non-animal sources, so there’s no confusion about how certain ingredients are derived.
Because these probiotics contain live bacteria, people who are immune-compromised should not take them.
What Do Probiotics Do?
In some cases, bacteria can be the harbingers of disease, something that we take antibiotic medicines to help eradicate and cure. However, there are certain bacteria that are good for human health - these are called probiotics. These “good” bacteria are helpful because, in the right amounts and ratios, they promote a healthy gut and digestive system. Their very name, probiotic, translates to “for life”.
The single biggest support of using probiotics is to address acute instances of diarrhea, especially a case brought on by an infection or antibiotic-induced diarrhea. Studies have shown that probiotics reduce the time spent suffering from this particular ailment, and may even play a role in preventing it. Some studies have also shown probiotics having an effect on symptoms suffered from digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome.
Beyond just your digestive system, the bacteria in your gut is often closely connected with the overall health of your immune system. In a recent study, athletes who took probiotics experienced 40% fewer colds and gastrointestinal infections than when they did not. Because of this relationship with the body’s defense system, probiotics are touted as a natural, homeopathic way to prevent colds and flu.
Protection by the power of nature!
What Vegans Should Avoid When Looking for a Probiotic Supplement
Supplementing with a probiotic capsule can be an easy and convenient way to introduce more friendly bacteria into your diet without having to forego too much time and effort. However, ethical vegans should be wary of exactly which kinds of probiotics they’re introducing to their diet.
One of the most popular probiotics is lactobacillus. The prefix “lacto-” is something that usually makes vegans run the other way, as it denotes that something in the product is derived from milk.
In the case of Lactobacillus, while there is no dairy in the bacteria itself, it is something of a vegan grey area, as the culture is usually grown on dairy products, as it only consumes milk-derived nutrients.
Ultimately, the money that would be spent on purchasing a product with lactobacillus would ultimately be going toward supporting the dairy industry.
However, some strains have been grown that do not rely on dairy foods for production. When searching for a vegan probiotic, you’ll want to choose one that is specifically labeled “vegan”, not just “non-dairy”.
A designation of “non-dairy” simply means that there is no milk in the product itself, and is there to let people with dairy allergies know that it is safe for them to eat.
However, a non-dairy probiotic can still use dairy products in processing, so you’ll want to choose only those probiotics that are clearly marked “vegan”.
What Is the Recommended Daily Amount of Probiotics?
Unlike vitamins and minerals, there isn’t a recommended daily amount of probiotics a person needs to ingest. Probiotics come more into play when you’re experiencing certain symptoms of gastric distress, or you’ve been taking antibiotics. Children also have different probiotic needs than adults.
When you take antibiotics for an infection, the medicine doesn't know the difference between the bad bacteria causing the sickness and the friendly bacteria that help your body flourish - anything that stands in the medicine’s path tends to be destroyed.
When the good bacteria is destroyed by antibiotics, this leaves your body susceptible to things like fast-growing candida yeast, and can throw off the healthy ratios that had been previously built. Taking probiotics can help lessen the side effects of antibiotics by replenishing your body’s balance of friendly, immune-boosting bacteria.
Experts suggest taking your probiotics around 2 hours after your antibiotic dose to ensure most of the good bacteria will be allowed to thrive, and preferably after a meal when stomach acid is lowest.
Probiotics are also especially effective in children, especially those who are susceptible to pain and discomfort from gas and colic. A 2007 study in Pediatrics found that colicky infants who took the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri Protectis saw results within one week, and by the fourth week of the study, cried for only 51 minutes per day, compared with 145 minutes for infants given Simethicone, the active ingredient in most over-the-counter anti-gas products.
Probiotics can also reduce diarrhea by one day and make symptoms less severe in children - which can really add up, considering how expensive diapers are.
While probiotics seem just to be breaking into the food marketing world, they have been working hard to keep our guts healthy since the beginning of time.
Vegan Foods with Probiotics
Fermented foods like miso, tempeh, non-dairy yogurts, sauerkraut, and kombucha tea all contain healthy vegan-friendly probiotics.
While it’s certainly possible to ingest plenty of probiotics from these food sources, it isn’t always realistic that we would be able to consume them every day.
First and foremost, fermented foods tend to be very strong in flavor, and don’t always lend themselves to each meal or go over well with picky eaters. The vinegary, pungent smell and taste can be hard to get around for someone who is very sensitive to intense flavors.
Secondly, because fermented foods are a very “in” food right now, they tend to be prohibitively expensive - at my local food co-op, a 16 fluid ounce bottle of commercial kombucha costs anywhere from $2.99-$4.99 - and that’s just for a beverage!
While I purchase the drink now and then because I enjoy the taste, it’s not exactly a cost-effective way to get a dose of probiotics. There’s always the option to make homemade kombucha or sauerkraut, but while cheaper, these tend to be very labor intensive and require the homemade products to sit for a long time and ferment.
Thankfully, we live in a world where it’s possible to supplement our diets with the nutrients we need in a convenient capsule, in addition to whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other plant-based foods.
Probiotics in the Vegan Diet
Probiotics can have a beneficial effect after a round of antibiotics, or to combat symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive disorders. While these friendly bacteria exist in a variety of vegan-friendly foods, it’s convenient and quick to get them through a supplement, too.
Vegans will want to take care to choose only probiotics that are not processed with dairy products - be sure to look for products that are clearly marked “vegan”, or note that they have not been grown on any dairy sources.
Welcome friendly bacteria into your life to help alleviate bloating and gas, and to boost your immune system.