Probiotic Review: Ultimate Flora High Potency Probiotics from Renew Life
May 24, 2013

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This post is well timed. I’ve had worse than usual allergies for the last week, and I knew it would be a pain to fly with all the congestion, but as my flight descended into Portland late on Wednesday my left ear started hurting so badly that I was still clutching it and whimpering to Jared (who happened to be one seat behind me on the plane) thirty minutes after landing. I felt OK when I woke up Thursday, but by 3pm I was a sniffling mess again. At Jasmin’s urging, I set up a clinic appointment and found out that I had a pretty bad ear infection, in addition to the allergies. So now I’m on antibiotics, feeling much better, and realizing that this is the perfect moment to write about high potency probiotics from Renew Life.

Perhaps when you were growing up, your mother told you to eat lots of yogurt when you were taking antibiotics. It wasn’t the yogurt that was special; it was the healthy bacteria living in the cultured food that would help to replenish good bacteria living in your gut and throughout your body, which antibiotics wipe out along with harmful invaders. I’m like most people in that I don’t love taking antibiotics, but I don’t hesitate to do so when they’re necessary. If I do, I always take care to supplement with a high potency probiotic, so that my overall immunity and gut health stay strong.

That said, being on a course of antibiotics is hardly the only reason to consider adding a probiotic to your routine. More and more, we’re starting to glimpse the enormous role that the microbiome plays in our health. It seems that a great many of us lack a lot of the good bacteria that aid in immunity, digestion, and possibly even weight maintenance. Eating poor diet, too much use of drugs and antibiotics, and underexposure to germs in childhood may all impact whether or not we have enough gut bacteria. If we don’t, it’s a wise idea to experiment with a probiotic supplement.

When choosing a probiotic, there are a few important factors to consider. One is whether or not it contains milk, casein, honey, gelatin, or other non-vegan ingredients. Check labels to be sure. Another good tip is to be sure the supplement is enteric coated or otherwise designed to protect the bacterial strains; if it isn’t, your acidic stomach environment will kill many of the good bacteria you’re trying to get (not all, of course; if that were true, fermented foods wouldn’t be so healthful, but if you’re using probiotics medicinally it can’t hurt to maximize their survival). If you struggle with IBS-C in particular (that’s a tendency toward constipation, which I struggled with for many years), you want a probiotic with both acidophilus and bifidus (the latter is important).

There’s a lot we don’t understand about the role of probiotics in health. Very few medical studies have established their efficacy with confidence (there is one exception; VSL 3, a probiotic developed in Italy, has been shown to be effective in management of IBD and IBS), and beyond that, they’re not always regulated closely, which means that it’s hard to say whether you’re taking too much, too little, or whether the blend you’re taking is going to help. Some blends are so high potency that they may actually upset your stomach, and cause more disruption than good. But so far, most medical professionals agree that an acidophilus/bifidus blend is a wise idea for people with digestive struggles, for people on antibiotics, and for anyone hoping to increase immune function. Chat with your health care provider about whether or not a probiotic may be right for you–and if so, which one!

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So this brings me to RenewLife, and their high potency probiotic blend. The folks at RenewLife, knowing my passion for all things GI, offered to send me some of their probiotics to review, and I was pleased to say yes. Given the fact that I’m currently under it, the timing was fortuitous. I’ve taken a good many probiotics in my time, but I’m having a really good experience with this one. No wacky disruption of my digestive system, no unwanted bowel changes. And I’m confident that I’m doing something to protect myself against the side effects of antibiotic use. Some details:

  • 15 billion active bacteria per capsule
  • 9 billion Bifidobacteria
  • 6 billion Lactobacilli cultures
  • Delayed release vegetable capsules
  • Dairy and gluten free
  • Ultimate Flora Adult Formula 15 Billion is a daily maintenance probiotic formulated specifically for people aged 15 – 49, with the probiotic strains adults need for daily maintenance. Ultimate Flora Adult Formula contains 15 billion live cultures of 10 different strains of bacteria. The 10 different strains were carefully chosen for their proven health-promoting benefits and their prevalence in the healthy digestive tract. Ultimate Flora Adult Formula was formulated to maintain a balance of Bifidobacteria in the colon by providing 9 billion live cultures of Bifidobacteria.

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For the sake of due diligence, I asked whether the strains were grown with dairy (which they often are). The company responded that, though some of the original strains (harvested in some cases as long ago as the 1930’s) were dairy derived, it is now the company’s policy never to grow their strains with known allergens, including dairy, and that the coating is always vegetable-based. This is as honest and good an assurance as I’ve heard from any probiotic maker, and I was grateful for their transparency.

You can find the high-potency adult strain on the RenewLife website, here. And you can watch the company’s little trailer, here:

Of course, before considering a probiotic or any other supplement, please speak with your health care provider about whether or not it’s right for you, and about which particular strains might be most beneficial. If your health care provider believes that RenewLife might work for you, the company is well worth checking out! Especially since, right now, you can get a coupon for $3.00 off of any RenewLife Ultimate Flora probiotic. And feel free to ask me any probiotic questions that you might have, too. I’ll do my best to give a good answer.

With that, I’m feeling on the mend and excited for day 1 of VVC. I’ll be recapping soon!!

xo

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    48 Comments
  1. I am experiencing bloating, gas, and generally uncomfortable. Can I take Flora maybe a couple of times a week? Thank you for any suggestions you can give me.

  2. Just wanting to no if I can sprinkle my capsule over food I have a hard time swallowing the pills

  3. Hi found your page while looking up probiotic, I have been having some stomach issues, still haven’t gotten to the bottom of it. I am taking florastor and was looking at the brand you recommended. Is there a difference. Florastor doesn’t have a listing like the other of billions active cultures. its says 250mg. Im thinking of switching i want an need full benefits. Thank you

  4. I have IBS for a long time and have just recently tried Ultimate Flora. I take one every morning half an hour before eating. However, I am experiencing bloating, gas, and generally uncomfortable. Can I take Flora maybe a couple of times a week? Thank you for any suggestions you can give me.

  5. Hi!
    I was wondering how does one choose the dosage of probiotics? My health food store in Kuwait carries the Ultimate Flora for Women 90 Billion. Would that be too much? I would ask a doctor, unfortunately they know more about drug treatment rather than prevention of health issues here.

    Thanks a lot!

  6. there,,are,,4,,different,,,kinds,,,of,,ultimate,flora,,,,which,is,best,,,for,me,,i,have,,,,IBS,,,,,,IM,,,BLOATED,,,,,,AND,,,STOMACH,,IS,HARD,,LIKE,ROCKS.,,,THANK,YOU,,,,

  7. Hello! So I have a question: I recently moved back home (Montana) from living in the city for a few years. A few weeks after coming back, I started noticing every time I ate I became extremely bloated, nauseous and gassy. I couldn’t associate any particular foods to it, but it didn’t matter how much or how little I ate, it always came on full force about 30 minutes after eating. My mom suggested I take a probiotic, since I may have different flora in my gut since living in the city. I bought Ultimat Flora today, but then read some reviews saying probiotics can make you bloated/gassy. Also, I have found mixed reviews about eating with the probiotics. Anyway, I was just looking for some insight into this, since the whole reason I want to take the probiotics is to decrease the bloating and discomfort. Thanks!

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  12. I almost never comment, however i did some searching and wound
    up here Probiotic Review: Ultimate Flora High Potency Probiotics from Renew Life.
    And I do have some questions for you if it’s allright.
    Is it only me or does it look like a few of the remarks come across like they
    are written by brain dead people? 😛 And, if you are posting at other online sites, I’d like to follow anything fresh you have to
    post. Would you list of every one of your shared sites like your Facebook page,
    twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

  13. A friend recommended I take 90 or 100 billion capsules once a day. You seem to be suggesting 15 billion strength. How do I know which strength to take? I am taking them to promote regularity.

    • Michael, this is definitely something to speak with your health care provider about. I really can’t suggest a dosage from afar — I’m simply giving a review of one high quality brand. Sorry not to be more helpful!

  14. Thank you for any other informative website.
    Where else could I am getting that kind of info written in such a perfect manner?
    I have a undertaking that I’m just now working on, and I’ve been on the look out for such information.

  15. Thank you for this post! I have been researching probiotics and it’s a bit overwhelming. Your selection criteria match mine exactly, so I was eager to investigate Ultimate Flora on my own. Winner! As a bonus, it is an affordable choice and available at discount and grocery stores. Thank you!

  16. I suffer from autoimmune disease, Hashimotos Hypothroid. Recently I’ve been receiving treatment for pelvic neuralgia. Mseley Physical Therapist, along with many diet .restrictions, put probiotics on my “to do” list. I was overwhelmed by the various selections. The employees at Nutri Smart nutrition store provided what info they had. But ultimately it was my choice. I decided on the Renew Life Ultimate Flora 50 billion vaginal support (due to my neuralgia). I’ve not had any digestive issues since starting them. My question is, since they are so expensive, is this the right choice
    Or is there a better one?

  17. Hi there,
    My mom was talking to my doctor about me starting Ultimate Flora for women. I’m very prone to frequent urinary tract infections and the Flora for women does say that it promotes vaginal and urinary tract health – do you think this will help alleviate some of my tendency for UTIs??

  18. I take a daily probiotic in my smoothie (just open the capsule and dump it in) but I’m going to be traveling soon and mine requires refrigeration. Are there good brands that don’t need to be cooled and that can travel well?

    • Christine,

      The RenewLife probiotics actually don’t demand refrigeration. 73 degrees Fahrenheit is what they recommend!

      G

  19. Hi Gena,
    Thanks for this post. I keep thinking I want to use a probiotic, especially because my eating has become more erratic lately but I was never really sure what to use/what would be effective. Do you think that a lower potency probiotic would be less disruptive over long periods of time? Or does that not have anything to do with it?
    Thanks for keeping up an always informative and fun to read blog!
    Jill

  20. I’m curious what you think about probiotic drinks. Lately I’ve been buying Kevita once in a while but I feel like the chances the bacteria are still alive in the drink and that they will then make it all the way to my gut are slim. Tastes good though:)

    • Rachael,

      I think if you drink fermented drinks like Kevita on a regular basis, then they might make a difference. After all, this is part of why fermented foods are such a great part of every traditional food culture. However, you’re right that drinking one every now and then isn’t likely to make a huge difference for you (even if it’s delicious!) and drinking Kevita every day isn’t affordable. Making coconut water kefir or regular water kefir, though, is very affordable and not hard at all. I should get on top of a tutorial, eh?

      G

      • Thanks Gena, I wish I could afford Kevita every day but it will probably always be considered a splurge for me. I would love to be able to make my own so a tutorial would be great but you DID just recently give us a wonderful tutorial on making our own fermented foods. I had no idea how easy it was until you posted about it.

      • That sounds like a great idea, Gena! I loved your tutorial on how to make lacto-fermented vegetables. Fermented foods are so tasty!

  21. most of these ferments are grown using traditional culture media that contain yeast extract and bacto-tryptone. bacto-tryptone is a slaughter house product. often the company that packages the “probiotic” buys the fermentation products from a larger company and has little direct knowledge of bacterial ferments. i am sure the pills themselves are probably vegan.

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/probiotics/

    • Standard media for fermentation of these strains contains meat extract and/or peptone (digest of animal protein), salts, yeast extract and a smattering of additional metabolites.

      One example:
      http://www.sigmaaldrich.com/catalog/product/fluka/69966?lang=en&region=US

      I think its very unlikely that this company is growing these products in a truly vegan fashion. I know of only one company that sells a vegan probiotic:

      http://www.goodbelly.com/vegan-probiotic/

      When you asked whether the strains were grown with dairy you asked the wrong question. The correct question would have been to ask whether the products are grown with peptone, or other tryptic digests of animal proteins. Unless, the company explicitly states that the bacteria are fermented using no animal-derived components I think you should assume that they were grown using animal products.

  22. Do you recommend taking both probiotics and digestive enzymes? (I think they’re two different things, right?) I’ve read to take on an empty stomach but the bottle shown above says with a small meal… What are your thoughts? Thanks!

    • Jen,

      I can’t speak for Gena, but I can tell you that (in my experience) taking supplements with a small meal is the way to go – generally, right before eating.

      Digestive enzymes and probiotics are two different things. I think that digestive enzymes help your stomach more effectively break down food so that it can be better absorbed by the body, whereas probiotics replenish the flora of bacteria in your gut. I would start off taking either or, seeing how your body reacts, and then taking the other. For me, it’s always been easier to gauge that way.

      Hope that helps.

      Eric

      • Eric,

        You’ve got it right! Enzymes can aid in food breakdown, whereas probiotics help to create a more balanced environment in the gut (which will also help with the digestive process, but that’s not the only advantage). Thanks for sharing your experience.

        G

      • Thanks Eric, those are really good points. I’m going to try a probiotic with breakfast and see what kind of results I get. Thanks again!

  23. Do you think you will continue to take a regular probiotic after you finish your antibiotic course? I have struggled with IBS-C as well and I’ve considered starting probiotics so thanks for this post! I also wondered about the stomach killing off bacteria from fermented foods and probiotic supplements. Great info as always. xo

    • Taylor,

      What I’ve found at this point is that, if I take probiotics all the time, they can actually be a little disruptive, so I usually take them only when I travel or if there’s a good reason to (antibiotics, or getting over an illness, etc.). That said, I no longer have IBS-C (or rather, I haven’t in a long time). If you think you might benefit, by all means chat with your health care provider about it and see if it helps. And it’s also worth saying that I eat fermented foods and drink kefir year round 🙂

      G

  24. For your readers from over the pond I recommend the probiotics Bio Acidophilus Forte from BioCare. They work absolutely amazing for making non dairy yogurt. One capsule (which roughly costs 80p) provides 19 billion lacto probiotic bacteria (Acidophilus) and 5 billion bifido bacteria (Bifidum). It also contains FOS and it’s stated as vegan and hypoallergenic.

  25. Hi Gena,

    This is a great review. Actually, I always take probiotic products and it’s my first time to hear the Ultimate Flora High Potency Probiotics from Renew Life. I think this is a great product. I would love to try one. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  26. You just reminded me that I need to buy a new bottle. After my last one ran out I simply stopped taking probiotics. Not good! Thank you for the tips about what to look for. I used to buy a bottle made by a really nice brand sold Whole Foods, so while I know it was good quality, I definitely didn’t ask some of the questions I probably should have. I think I’m going to take your recommendation and check out RenewLife, or at least find out more details about the previous brand I was purchasing. Your posts are always so informative! 🙂

    • Thanks Jenni! And as for your last comment re: career change, feel free to reach out at any time. I’ve been there 🙂

  27. “…your acidic stomach environment will kill many of the good bacteria you’re trying to get (not all, of course; if that were true, fermented foods wouldn’t be so healthful, but if you’re using probiotics medicinally it can’t hurt to maximize their survival).”

    Just a quick note to say thanks for this. The explanation seems pretty obvious now, but I’d previously been curious about what I saw as a slight contradiction between constant warnings to seek out enteric coatings from the same folks claiming fermented foods were good for the gut. Cred points for taking the extra minute to explain (that’s not to say I didn’t find you credible before). Since I neither have digestive issues nor supplement with probiotics, I hadn’t wondered enough to do the research, but still. The brain hates an unsolved puzzle, am I right? This scratched an old itch for me.

    Enjoy VVC!

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