Manufacturing trends in probiotic supplements

Manufacturing trends in probiotic supplements


Probiotics are friendly bacteria that are known to have potential health benefits. They have become the new super foods as they promote digestive health and provide protection against harmful microorganisms. The probiotic bacteria can be obtained from diet, fermented products and dietary supplements. Probiotic foods and probiotic supplements have gained enormous attention due to the increasing awareness on the preventive and therapeutic applications.


What are probiotics used for?

Probiotic supplements are known to help maintain the delicate balance of the micro-flora in the gut.  They aid in digestion, boost the immune function, combat the harmful bacteria in the body, increase the absorption of calcium and help in synthesis of B vitamins. They are often consumed for specific health needs such as those listed below:

Promote gastro-intestinal health: Probiotic supplements help to promote healthy gut bacteria and regular bowel movements.

Dietary probiotic supplements during pregnancy: Probiotic bacteria increase the activity of digestive enzymes, promote absorption of calcium and help in the synthesis of B vitamins.

Immune booster: Boosts the immune activity by mediating the immune response at specific sites and controls the growth of harmful bacteria. Probiotic supplements are particularly used in promoting  digestive and immune health of young children.

Digestive enzymes for infants: Probiotics in the form of probiotic drinks and dietary supplements promote the activity of the digestive enzymes, help in breakdown of lactose (milk sugar) and reduce the symptoms of lactose intolerance.

Sports drinks: Probiotic drinks are common in the niche of sports nutrition for promoting immune health and general well-being of consumers.


Most probiotic supplements are manufactured in combination with prebiotics for greater health benefits. Many studies have shown the efficacy of a combination of prebiotics and probiotics as therapeutic agents to improve gastrointestinal disorders(1).


Need for prebiotics

Prebiotics are defined as “a non-viable food component that confers a health benefit on the host associated with modulation of the microbiota”, according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations 2007 technical meeting report(2). Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that aid in the growth of friendly bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. They are the source of energy for the intestinal bacteria to thrive and multiply in the human gut. They are technically termed as non-nutrients that simply pass through the digestive tract without being digested and do not yield energy or nutrients. Although they do not possess nutritive value they are of significance in human nutrition since they promote digestive health and general well-being. Most healthcare professionals recommend a probiotic supplement that also contains prebiotics as prebiotics and probiotics work in synergy to offer positive health benefits.


The current in probiotics include probiotic drinks, dietary probiotic supplements, drugs, dairy products, fermented cereals, nutrition bars, infant formulas, dietary supplements and therapeutic foods. Probiotics are most commonly used in probiotic drinks and also  available as pre and probiotics supplement. The clinical applications of probiotic supplements include anti-inflammatory, allergy prevention, decreasing high blood cholesterol and reduction of gastrointestinal issues.


Increasing awareness in preventive healthcare and the demand for functional foods that provide both nutritive value and promote health has improved the market for probiotic supplements. The growth of probiotic supplements in the nutraceutical industry is intriguing and promising. There are extensive research pertaining to probiotic applications and the new probiotics strains are  under development. Probiotics are used extensively in the Europe and parts of Asia and is also popular in the US.


1. Fedorak, Richard N.; Madsen, Karen L; Probiotics and prebiotics in gastrointestinal disorders; Current Opinion in Gastroenterology: March 2004 – Volume 20 – Issue 2 – pp 146-155 Nutrition

2. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: FAO Technical Meeting on Prebiotics.


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