Probiotics For Kids: A Privinta's Parents Guide
Probiotics are one of nature's best natural defenses against illness because they live in your gut. They help you stay healthy by keeping bad bacteria away from your body.
However, the probiotics in the gut may become compromised as a result of a variety of factors. When this happens, bad bacteria thrive, and this exposes the body to germs and diseases.
In this guide, you’ll learn more about what probiotics are, if your child should take them, how safe probiotics are for your kid and so much more.
Keep reading to learn more and keep your child’s gut healthy.
What are Probiotics?
When bacteria is mentioned, it’s usually assumed to be a disease-causing organism that makes you fall sick. But, not all bacteria are the bad kind.
Matter of fact, your body needs certain bacteria to be healthy. This type of bacteria helps with digestion, absorbing nutrients, and battling other germs that make your kid fall sick.
Within your body, you have your own community of germs called a microbiome. It’s made of good and bad bacteria, viruses, and fungi. They live:
- on your skin
- in your gut
- in your urogenital tract
- in your saliva
Probiotics are good bacteria and are mainly found in the gastrointestinal tract. They normally make up about 70 to 80 percent of the total bacteria in our bodies.
These good bacteria help with many crucial bodily functions, including digestion of food and absorption of nutrients from that food. Having enough of these helpful little organisms can ward off bad bacteria and yeasts, which may lead to infections and other health problems.
There are many different types of probiotics, but the most common one is Lactobacillus acidophilus. This bacteria helps break down lactose (milk sugar) and produces lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide, both of which protect the body against harmful bacteria.
Lactobacillus is a probiotic that is commonly found in yogurt and other fermented foods. It helps to keep the intestinal tract healthy by balancing the number of good and bad bacteria. As a result, it can help with conditions such as diarrhea, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Probiotics also come as supplements. When you walk down the supplement aisle in your favorite grocery store, health store, or pharmacy, you’ll see lots and lots of probiotic supplement brands for kids.
Probiotic supplements include:
Determining the dose of probiotics your child is taking through foods can be difficult compared to supplements.
Difference Between Probiotics and Prebiotics
Probiotics are good gut bacteria that help with bodily functions including digestion, warding off sicknesses and overall health. When you take probiotics, you’re adding to the existing probiotics in your body.
There are different strains of probiotics in the body. The most common one is the Lactobacillus which I mentioned earlier. Other common ones include:
- Saccharomyces boulardii
Prebiotics on the other hand stimulates the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. They act as fertilizers to help your body create these healthy bacteria.
Prebiotics are specialized plant fibers which are naturally occurring in certain fruits and veggies that contain complex carbohydrates. Think of those fruits and veggies that contain starch and fiber. The carbs within these actually aren’t digested by the body, but instead, become food for gut microbes as they pass through the digestive system.
A few examples of prebiotics include:
Prebiotics are also available in supplement form.
Now you understand the difference between both terms. Let’s look at a crucial question.
Should kids take probiotics?
Since probiotics are very essential to promoting a healthy gut, kids should take probiotics to optimize their gut health.
Studies have been carried out to discover the benefits of probiotics in children, and some of this research has been encouraging.
One of such is a 2015 research. This research shows that probiotics were better than placebo in reducing the incidence and duration of upper respiratory tract infections in study participants. Antibiotic use and school absence due to colds were also reduced.
In another study, probiotics were administered to 78 children under age 5 for respiratory infections and wheezing. 23% of these children had asthma. Symptoms reduced after 3 months and disappeared after 6 months.
Additionally, JAMA Pediatrics published a study that revealed that giving infants probiotics in the first three months of life may help prevent colic, constipation, and acid reflux.
As regards infants, while probiotics can be found in the breast milk of the mother, a lot of factors can compromise the presence of healthy bacteria in the infant’s microbiome.
Some of these factors could be lack of breastfeeding and the heavy use of antibiotics for the mother or child which can disrupt the balance of healthy bacteria in the child’s microbiome.
You might be wondering if your children would need probiotics since they are generally fit and healthy. Well, they do.
Childhood years come with factors such as school, low-fiber and high-sugar diet, stress, antibiotics/medications, and busy lifestyles which can have a negative impact on your child’s microbiome composition and reduce levels of good bacteria.
Developing a healthy intestinal flora for kids promotes a strong immune system and influences whether someone is prone to digestive issues, infections, allergies, skin conditions such as eczema, and other chronic conditions.
Are probiotics safe for children?
Yes, probiotics are generally safe for children with no side effects or long-term complications.
Some probiotics may be more suited for some children than others, and not all children should take probiotics.
According to Dr. Greer from Parents.com, “probiotics aren't for children who are seriously or chronically ill, or who have a disease that renders them immuno-compromised, including preterm infants, children who are undergoing chemotherapy, and kids on steroids”.
This is because probiotics haven’t been well studied in these populations. Giving it to this type of children could lead to infection, or even gas or bloating.
So, before you give your child probiotics even in foods or supplements, ensure they are not seriously ill, are undergoing chemo, or have a compromised immune system.
In addition, when choosing a probiotic supplement for your child, ensure it:
- Contains human bacterial strains
- Labeled as safe for infants and/or children
- Shown to be safe and effective in clinical studies
What are the benefits of probiotics for kids?
Supports Immune Health
Let’s face it, nurseries and schools are the most common places for bugs to be contracted and spread quickly. Plus which kid enjoys washing their hands at such a young age?
The good news is that irrespective of all these, you can give your kids probiotics to support and improve their immune health. 70% of our immune system is located in our gut. By giving your kid probiotics, you increase the good bacteria in their gut and support their immune system.
It’s very essential kids digest their foods easily, and their bodies absorb all the necessary nutrients as well. Your kid’s microbiome provides digestive enzymes which help break down food, and create a healthy gut environment for absorbing nutrients from food.
Supports Skin Health
Eczema is one of the most common skin problems affecting 15% to 20% of children from infancy.
Probiotics may be able to improve skin health by supporting a healthy gut lining, increasing the levels of good bacteria in the gut, and reducing inflammation.
Prevents antibiotic-related diarrhea
Some pediatricians recommend that children take probiotics while on antibiotics. This is because when antibiotics are taken, it destroys the bad bacteria causing health issues.
At the same time, however, it can also destroy some of the good bacteria essential for optimal gut and immune health. Therefore exposing the body to more germs.
Probiotics acts as good little soldiers strengthening the intestinal lining so bad bacterial cannot multiply freely and helping good bacteria multiply. This healthy balance keeps your child in optimal health.
Mood and wellbeing
Its been found that there is a connection between our brain and the microbiome called the brain-gut axis. Additionally, it’s estimated that up to 90% of serotonin - the happy hormone is produced in the gut. By giving kids probiotics and keeping the gut healthy, you can promote the production of this happy hormone in your kid.
When to start giving your child probiotics?
Kids of all ages, including infants can benefit from taking probiotics.
Some infant formulas now contain probiotics because different factors after birth could compromise the gut health of a child.
By giving infants probiotics early (provided it is labeled safe and your pediatrician approves), you are laying the foundation for a healthy gut microbiome for your child.
If your child is also experiencing colic issues and digestive discomfort, a probiotic may prove very helpful.
Additionally, If your child is experiencing food intolerance, allergies, or digestive issues, probiotics can help strengthen the gut and provide strong gut and immune health. Privinta’s Belly Balance probiotic for kids helps to create a healthy gut microbiome.
Another thing you want to keep an eye on is stress. Stress can have negative impacts on the gut. If you notice your child is going through a stressful period in school, giving them a probiotic like Privinta’s Belly Balance will help reduce the impact of stress on their gut health.
Another thing to keep in mind is the probiotic dosage for kids.
Since dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA, there is no recommended or set dose of probiotics for children.
You have to follow the dosage recommended by the product manufacturer. You should also check with your pediatrician
Probiotic Supplements Vs Probiotic Foods
Most stores stock a wide variety of probiotic food and beverages. Yogurt, Kombucha, Kefir, fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut, and yogurt substitutes, are a few examples.
All of these things are created by a fermentation process that employs live, active microorganisms. However, there are numerous shortcomings to probiotic drinks and foods.
For one, the bacteria used for the fermentation process are often not human bacteria. For example, In yogurt, for instance, cow bacteria is usually used. This means that there is a high chance that the bacteria don’t settle down in your gut and may leave your body via your stool.
Additionally, there is the case of fermented foods and drinks sitting on shelves for long periods before you buy and consume them. As a result, the bacteria in the product may be at a life stage where they cant provide their full benefits or already be dead.
The bacteria must also travel through your stomach's acidic environment. Many of these good bacteria are killed by stomach acid, especially if they are already old from being on the shelf for a few days or weeks.
Some of these live bacteria also make it into your intestine where they may have some positive effects. However, taking a high-quality probiotic supplement is a much more effective way to improve your gut health.
Probiotic Supplements for Kids
At Privinta, our Belly Balance probiotic gummy is designed for your kid’s optimal gut health.
Each probiotic gummy contains up to 2.5 billion CFUs of Bacillus coagulans (Probiotics) to help your child with their overall gut health and immune system.
Bacillus coagulans are a strain of probiotics that are able to withstand extreme environments such as high levels of acid in the stomach which might kill other probiotics. This may make B. coagulans particularly effective at alleviating stomach distress such as:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Intestinal gas
- antibiotic-related diarrhea
Our probiotic gummy is 100% natural and free from allergens including gelatin, soy, milk, nuts, eggs, artificial colors, and preservatives. Rest assured your child is getting all the benefits they need without any toxic additives.
At Privinta, based on our research, we recommend giving children from 1-3 years one gummy a day, and 2 gummy a day for children aged 4 plus.
Each bottle contains 60 gummies. This equals 2 month supply for children under 3, and 1 month supply for children from 4 and above.
How to Aid the Use of Privinta’s Probiotic Gummy
While we recommend you give a probiotic supplement to your child for optimal gut and immune health, you still need to keep some things in mind to ensure that they have the best chance of working and providing the health benefits you’re looking for.
Embrace the veggies
Veggies can be tiring to eat.. Ask kids, they know just how tiring it can be. However, you have to encourage a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will help to colonize a diverse range of good bacteria.
In particular, look to whole grains like barley, oats, and couscous, as well as those fruit and veggies that are a source of prebiotic fiber as we mentioned earlier. It’s all about helping those good bacteria to thrive.
Avoid a diet high in sugar including fatty foods and sugary beverages. Sugary foods don’t create the right environment for good bacteria to thrive. So, as much as possible avoid the junk. Their gut will thank you later!
Only Give Antibiotics Only When Recommended by Your Pediatrician
You shouldn’t be giving your child antibiotics unless it is prescribed. As we have looked at through this guide, antibiotics can kill the good bacteria in the gut which may reduce the overall gut and immune health.