How and When to take Probiotics?

Believe it or not, when and how you take your probiotic is just as important as the type of probiotic you take. We know that certain strains of probiotics are better than others. Some strains do little to nothing for our bodies, while others are vastly more effective at promoting a healthy immune system and gastrointestinal (GI) tract, to name just a few systems affected. However, even if you have the right strains, your body may not absorb it if you aren’t taking it properly.

Different products (probiotic supplements) will have different directions. In making any medical decision it is always recommended to take supplements as directed and to consult with your physician before making any changes. While it is recommended you take your probiotic according to its label (directions), you may want to consider some other options if you feel as though you aren’t getting the most out of your probiotic supplement. Changing up the time(s) you take your probiotic may be an effective solution to seemingly ineffective probiotic therapies. It would also be important to consider whether or not you are taking the proper strains for what you are hoping to achieve.

When to take a probiotic is somewhat controversial, but taking your probiotic supplements at the right time might make a huge difference in health benefits. 

There is still debate over the topic, but it seems the general consensus recommends that probiotic supplements be taken:

WHEN= 30 minutes before eating a meal or consuming a drink that contains some fat.

HOW= on an empty stomach and with a glass of water

The reasons for this recommendation center on the levels of acid present in the gut at different times of the day, depending upon your dietary habits. Eating or drinking something that contains fat helps reduce the stomach’s acidity and supports bacterial intestinal passage. Taking it at the right time and in the right way helps to minimize the interaction between the probiotic supplement and your digestive enzymes. It is best to take probiotic supplements at times when stomach acids, digestive enzymes, and bile salts are all at their lowest levels. These levels peak in reaction to food consumption, which means the worst time to take your probiotic supplement is about 30 minutes after eating. When taken 30 minutes after a meal,  the amount of beneficial (living) bacteria that actually are absorbed by your gut is greatly diminished. Additionally, you should avoid taking probiotics with a meal for the same reason.

It may also prove effective to take your probiotic supplement 2 to 3 hours after consuming your last meal of the day or directly before bed. Switching up the times you take your probiotic supplement may help increase the effectiveness of the bacteria. Aside from taking probiotics with water, you can also try washing them down with some orange juice. However, don’t just go drinking everything and anything with your probiotics. Hot drinks, coffee, tea, and caffeinated beverages are all drinks that should be avoided. These drinks interfere with the absorption of the probiotic and may destroy any living microorganisms. On that note, please remember to always store probiotic supplements in cool, dry, and dark places. If you fail to take the necessary precautions, the living microorganisms may become overheated and die before ever making it into your mouth.

However, please note that this does not hold true for probiotic supplements that are taken to support the health of your sinuses, mouth, or nose. These probiotics are usually taken before bed so as to allow them to work their magic while you sleep. This can most certainly be done on an empty stomach, since this type of probiotic supplement isn’t being directed at your gut, and thus will not necessarily be affected by the acid level of your stomach. Some recommend taking this specific type of probiotic by opening the capsule and pouring its contents directly into your mouth. You then should swish the probiotic contents around in your mouth before swallowing. Furthermore, you should not eat or drink anything after taking a probiotic using this method, as you will reduce the potency within your mouth and sinuses.



  1. Take note that probiotics should not be used within three hours of ingesting an antibiotic. Note: Do not take probiotics with a hot, caffeinated or carbonated drink. Almost every probiotic manufacturer will instruct patients to taking probiotics around mealtimes, usually during breakfast hours.

  2. Reply Kenneth September 9, 2016 at 6:25 am

    The statement: Take probiotics “30 min before eating a meal”… Does this mean that 30 min specifically is best? Or to just make sure it is at least 30 min before any food? For example: If one were to take it between meals – say 3 hours after eating & 2 hours before the next meal – would that be less beneficial than exactly 30 min before?

  3. Reply Heidi May 16, 2017 at 8:47 pm

    30 minutes before a meal and an empty stomach. Good to know.

    I have another question – I heard somewhere that it is best to remove the probiotic from the refrigerator and let it sit on the counter for a while to “take the chill off” before consuming.
    Is there any merit to this?

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