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Researchers notice a big rise in probiotic use

Sunday - 3/23/2014, 6:11pm  ET

The fastest growing supplement may be the stuff for your gut

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WASHINGTON--We're buying fewer bottles of vitamins and supplements these days. But we are consuming more of the stuff for our gut.

ConsumerLab.com, surveyed over 10,000 people who take dietary supplements and found Calcium, Vitamin C and even fish oil use declined in 2013. At the same time, probiotic use increased from 31 to 37 percent.

USA Today says researchers have really picked up on the trend, and have a number of theories why the shift is occurring.

First, people are starting to get the message that if you are healthy and eat a balanced diet, you may not need a lot of extra vitamins. There have also been reports concerning an increased risk from taking high doses of specific supplements.

But at the same time, there is growing evidence of the health benefits of probiotics, which are live bacteria.

They are thought to crowd out bad bacteria in the gut, and restore balance to the intestinal tract. The National Institutes of Health is a bit cautious, noting more study is needed about the health boost from probiotics, although initial research is promising.

In addition to promoting intestinal well-being, researchers in Canada say probiotics may also act as a stress reducers. A study in Britain indicates probiotics could be a weight loss aide as well.

Yogurt remains a popular source of probiotics. But not any yogurt will do, only those that say "contains active cultures" on the label.

Probiotics are also available in pill form. But USAToday.com says it is important to choose one that contains more than one bacterial strain.

Beyond crowding bad bacteria out of the lower intestine, they may also help lessen anxiety and could speed up weight loss.

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