How Long Should You Take Probiotics?

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By Juliana Tamayo, MS, Nutritionist

Reviewed by Juliana Tamayo, MS, RDN - Last Updated

how long should you take probiotics

Probiotic supplements are in these days. You might have heard about the many health benefits of probiotic supplementation, but the truth is you might be wondering how long should you take probiotics.

The truth is that for a probiotic supplement to work and give you all the health benefits, such as a stronger immune system, healthier gut flora, an efficient digestive system, and more, you need to take it consistently. 

Why Take Probiotic Supplements 

Although we are always taught that harmful bacteria should be avoided at all costs, probiotic bacteria are part of the healthy bacteria group that makes up our gut flora. Sometimes, your digestive health suffers because of different factors, including things like eating processed foods, antibiotic-related diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome. In these cases, taking probiotic supplements and eating probiotic foods can help promote better gut health and strengthen your gut microbiota. 


What To Know About Probiotic Supplementation 

As with all dietary supplements, a probiotic supplement should not be taken without knowing what to look for and what to expect. 

Before you decide to start taking probiotics, watch out for these important things

  • The probiotic strain in the supplement is a trusted and effective one, such as S. boulardii, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and L. plantarum among others. 
  • It contains at least 1 billion colony-forming units (CFUs), ideally more. 
  • Your product has been tested and proven to have the right strains to make taking probiotics worthwhile.

 How Long Should You Take Probiotics 

Before we go into the health benefits of probiotic supplements, you should be aware of the correct dosage and timing when taking probiotics. 

how long to take probiotics

Below is what the research says.

Take Your Probiotic Supplement Every Day 

No supplement works if you do not follow directions. For the most part, when you are ready to take probiotics, follow the directions on the supplement nutrient label. 

In most cases, your gut health and digestive system need time to see the effects of fermented foods and probiotic strains. 

For general health, take your probiotic every day and the gut bacteria that make up your healthy gut microbiome will see improvement within a few weeks to a month. 

Most research says that a probiotic a day will not do any harm. However, a safe practice is taking this supplement daily until you see the benefits you were looking for. Most people will use probiotics on and off as they need them. 

Sometimes You Might Need More Probiotics 

While not everyone needs to take probiotics, some individuals would likely benefit from a healthy dose of bacteria to strengthen their gut microbiota. 

In cases of IBS symptoms and inflammatory bowel disease, a high-quality probiotic supplement can help heal the intestinal tract but also prevent diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and gas. If symptoms are acute, then taking the supplement once or twice a day can be a good idea. You can supplement this way for a week or 10 days, and then maintain your health on a once-a-day dosage. 

When treating acute diarrhea, you might notice that a probiotic product can help reinstate the healthy bacteria that has died and likely led to diarrhea symptoms. Probiotic treatment can be a good solution, but it might cause some initial gas and pain. In a few days, you should notice your diarrhea diminishing, but be sure to keep taking it every day to see the probiotic supplementation results in the long term. 

Finally, those individuals taking antibiotics could benefit from a high initial dose when consuming probiotics. Antibiotics can kill intestinal bacilli in the gut microbiome, which leads to feelings of indigestion, gas, bloating, and diarrhea. Something like a high-dose probiotic drink 2-3 times a day can reinstate the good bacteria in your gut. After two weeks, you can likely go back to taking one probiotic a day. 

When To Stop Taking Your Probiotic Product 

Sometimes taking too many probiotics can be a bad combination. Finding the appropriate probiotic product is a better option than just adding a lot of probiotics add the same time. 

Certain health conditions might interfere with the effectiveness of probiotics as well as their safety. Although most probiotic products are safe, individuals with a weakened immune system or food intolerances among others might see some side effects from taking these supplements. Taking probiotics can increase the risk of upper respiratory infection rate in these individuals, as well as acute infectious diarrhea, or intestinal infections. 

If you notice that your GI distress is getting worse, or you have chronic gas, constipation, diarrhea, or pain, the probiotic supplement you are taking might not be for you. 

Health Benefits of Probiotics 

A probiotic supplement will bring you a myriad of health benefits, we will go over the most important ones below. You can check out more on what probiotics can do for you here

Better Gut Health 

If you suffer from things like irritable bowel syndrome or indigestion, you might not have enough probiotic bacteria in your diet. The number one reason to take a probiotic is to help restore or strengthen your gut microbiome. 

A healthy gut means better digestion, less gas, bloating, frequent bowel movements, and even weight management. Probiotics work by balancing your GI system, which leads to significant improvements in IBS-related symptoms and other gastrointestinal disturbances. 

In cases of constant diarrhea from infection or inflammatory processes, probiotics and rehydration therapy can lead to stool formation and less diarrhea. 

Stronger Immune System 

There is significant evidence that your gut is connected to your immunity. An imbalanced gut will lead to a weak immune system that is more prone to infections and chronic illness. 

Taking probiotic strains that lead to a balanced gut microbiome will also help lead to immune stimulation. Overall, the live cultures in an effective probiotic lead to a stronger intestinal lining, preventing intestinal infections from pathogens and inflammation. It will also lead to a better overall immune response against things like infections or the flu. 

Healthy Skin 

When your digestion works better, your whole body starts to work better too. Probiotic products can also help lead to clearer skin and fewer skin infections or acne. Sometimes when digestion is affected, your skin will suffer from breakouts, acne, and recurrent skin infections.

Probiotic use might help prevent any of these issues by ensuring your body is digesting and absorbing nutrients properly, while also strengthening your gut lining and immune system to prevent further 

probiotics for healthy skin

Weight Management 

Another health benefit of probiotic use is being able to digest nutrients properly and feel full longer. Probiotics may promote better weight control by helping you stay nourished and absorb all nutrients, preventing things like bloating and constipation. 

As part of a wholesome diet, healthy adults will likely see some improvement in their weight status when taking different strains of probiotics. 

How To Make Sure Your Probiotics Are Working 

Some signs that your probiotics are working include:

  • Improvement in gastrointestinal symptoms, such as diarrhea or constipation 
  • More energy 
  • Better sleep habits 
  • Tolerance to certain foods that caused distress before 

To ensure that the live bacteria in your probiotics make it alive there are some things you can do. Follow the directions on your product package, but for the most probiotics work better on an empty stomach. The stomach acid can also help break down the capsule form and absorb the bacteria properly. 

Always store the probiotics in a cool, dark place. Read the label of any product before buying it to ensure that it is the right choice. Some products contain added sugars or additives, which could cause problems. Watch out for common allergens, especially if you take probiotics in liquid forms, such as soy beverages or yogurts. 

Another key part of the effectiveness of probiotics is to pair them with probiotic-rich foods, such as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, or sauerkraut. You can also try prebiotic fiber, such as psyllium, inulin, onions, chicory root, or garlic. Prebiotics work to feed the bacteria in your gut, which makes the specific probiotic effect last even longer. 


As with any other product, you might want to know a bit more before you dive in. Taking probiotics can be daunting, but it should not be. You can go with a product like Seed, which is overall focused on the science behind probiotics. You could also try Gundry Bio Complete 3 for a combination of probiotics and prebiotics for optimal health. 

Check out some of the most common questions when it comes to determining how long to take probiotics. 

Does Our Body Become Dependent On Probiotics?

There is no risk associated with taking a probiotic, especially when it comes to dependency. While many individuals eat enough variety and fiber in their diet, some do not, and a probiotic can benefit them. However, your body will likely continue to function without the probiotic. 

Can You Take A Probiotic And A Multivitamin Together?

Yes, you can take any other supplements with probiotics. In some cases, individuals are taking medications that should not be taken with other supplements or multivitamins, if that is the case, ask your healthcare provider for more information. 

probiotic pills 1

How Long Should You Take a Break From Probiotics?

The best practice is to take a break from probiotics for a couple of days or a week at a time. This allows you to check whether the probiotic has had a positive effect on your body. You can use it as a trial to see if the effects of the probiotic last even when you are not taking it. 

For those trying to heal acute conditions, such as diarrhea, there is no need to take probiotics forever. You can try using them for 2-3 months at a time, take a break for the same time, and reintroduce them as needed. 

In some periods of life, and with certain conditions, you will notice that your body is struggling with digestive issues. During these times, you can take a daily dose of probiotics for your health needs and stop once you begin to feel better. 

Final Thoughts On Probiotics 

Taking probiotics is a healthy way to promote a stronger gut microbiota and overall digestive health. These supplements come in many shapes and forms, so watch out for additives and research-based claims. 

You can always use our helpful guide on the best probiotics in the market. Supplementing with a probiotic does not have a time limit. For the most part, try taking one for a few months at a time, trial some months off, and if you need it again, restart your supplementation. 

For those with health conditions, such as weakened immune systems or inflammatory bowel disease, probiotics might not be an option long-term, but they can help at certain times. Always ask your healthcare provider for advice before trying a product, especially if you have to take a lot of medications. 

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Juliana Tamayo, MS, Nutritionist

Juliana Tamayo is a registered dietitian with a Master of Science in Nutrition, Dietetics, and Sensory Sciences from the Kansas State University. She also has a B.A in Journalism and Creative writing, and lives in Washington, D.C. where she works as a part-time writer and editor and clinical dietitian. Juliana has experience covering all sorts of health and nutrition topics, including chronic illnesses, medicine, cooking, fitness, alternative healing, and more.