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Tempted to try a probiotic? Be aware that information about risks and safety is still skimpy

probiotic kefirThe probiotic trend has taken America with full force.

From dietary supplements to kombucha and special yogurts, the benefits of the live microorganisms are highly touted and marketed to consumers of all backgrounds. Yet very few have stopped to closely examine potential risks and negative side effects.

“The market ran ahead of the science,” Linda Duffy, who oversees probiotic and microbiome research projects at the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, part of the National Institutes of Health, told the online health publication STAT.

Research by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Heath indicates much remains to be learned about probiotics. So consumers may want to learn more before spending a lot for the latest probiotic product.

The Center’s recent study of 384 randomized probiotic, prebiotic and symbiotic controlled trials found that many researchers are not taking a holistic approach to understanding the effects of these supplements.

In fact, according to the authors of the study, 37 percent of the trials investigated did not report safety results and 28 percent did not report harms-related data.

Focused on promoting the benefits of these digestive-supporting microorganisms, much of the research data fails to acknowledge the potentially adverse effects or side effects of these supplements and foods.  The skewed data is to the benefit of companies eager to jump on the probiotic bandwagon, using the data to market the “good” bacteria that promotes a healthy gut but ignoring side effects such as gastrointestinal problems and allergic relations.

The takeaway for consumers? It’s difficult but important to educate yourself not simply on the benefits of your medications, supplements and foods, but also the potentially adverse effects. How do you educate yourself about the potential negative side effects and risks of your supplements and medications?  Share your thoughts with Voices for Affordable Health.