by Nils Osmar. August 29, 2022. Medical Disclaimer
Many of us are taking probiotics such as L. Reuteri for their purported health or longevity benefits.
There are accounts on Amazon and other websites of these probiotics sometimes arriving dead. This does happen, and is a problem to take seriously. It can happen, unfortunately, with any brand and type of probiotic that is sold.
They can die in storage in hot warehouses or even during shipping. Though Amazon has denied it, it’s clear that some of their warehouses don’t have effective air conditioning in the storage areas. I’ve bought supplements such as CoQ10 from Amazon and had them arrive with the capsules all melted together into a big gooey blob in the bottom of the bottle! I called Amazon and asked for a refund, which they gave me instantly without asking for proof because this is a known problem.
And of course, even if the warehouse is fine, mail storage facilities are not refrigerated. There’s been accounts in the news recently of delivery trucks reaching dangerous, even lethal temperatures — dangerous to the drivers but also to foods and supplements that can’t take that kind of heat without breaking down
The problem with probiotics
The problem with probiotics — which makes it even worse — is of course that they’re alive, and need to be alive to work effectively in our bodies.. They are adapted to live at a temperature around that of the human body (97 to 99 degrees.) No living organism in an airtight bottle (at least not one we’d want in our bodies) can survive the oven-like temperatures in some warehouses.
I once ordered some live kefir grains from a reputable seller I had bought from previously. They arrived a few days late because of a mail delivery delay and were dead on arrival. I tried making kefir but they could not be revived. I contacted the seller and they sent new ones.
How to find out
- Some people on Amazon that received supplements they suspected were dead have posted claims that they “sent them to a lab to be tested.” Since labs charge hundreds or thousands of dollars for these tests — let’s just say I have my doubts that many of these accounts are true. Some may have been posted by rival probiotic sellers trying to get a better market share for their own products.
- But exaggeration and hyperbole aside, the underlying problem is real. If you’re not sure if a probiotic you’ve bought has arrived alive, you could either pay hundreds of dollars to have it professionally tested, or try the easy, almost free test: See if you can make yogurt from one of the capsules. I’ve done this a few times with BioGaia’s L. Reuteri 6475 yogurt. (There are lots of recipes online.)
- If the result is a yogurt-like product (which smells and tastes good), the strain was alive.
- If you try repeatedly and don’t get yogurt, contact the seller for a refund. I’ve found that most sellers are cooperative in this regard.
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