Why Probiotic Strains Matter

Why Probiotic Strains Matter
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Written by: 4Life Senior Vice President of Research and Development, Dr. Vaughan, PhD, RD

When it comes to choosing a good probiotic, pay attention to the strain. When we say strain, we’re talking about the specific bacteria in your probiotic supplement.

First, let’s talk about Lactobacillus acidophilus.

What is lactobacillus acidophilus?

Lactobacillus acidophilus is a beneficial bacteria with two parts: the genus (Lactobacillus) and the species (acidophilus). All plants, fungi, and animals have these two names. Humans are Homo sapiens. However, just like humans, these two names do not fully identify the bacteria. Humans come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Yet, the genus-species name lumps us all into one big pile. We each have our own genetic differences, and so do all the healthy bacteria living within your gut.

Within the Lactobacillus acidophilus species, there are several different types of strains: NCFM, LA-14, R0052, ATCC 4356, and M23, just to name a few. No two are exactly alike. Some of these are better for your immune system, and others are better for digestion. For example:

Types of probiotic strains


NCFM helps increase the concentration of beneficial bacteria within the gut while also helping reduce unwanted bacteria.1 This probiotic strain has also been shown to reduce the frequency of runny nose, coughs, and fever in young children.2


LA-14 increased immunoglobulin G (IgG) in healthy adults.3 These types of antibodies may protect against infection.

How to choose a probiotic

If you look at the label of a probiotic product on the store shelf and it lacks these specific strain names, and it only says “L. acidophilus” you really have no idea what you’re getting. The probiotic strain could be good for your body, or it may offer no benefits at all. On the other hand, if you see a strain name, you can do a quick Google, Google Scholar, or PubMed search and see EXACTLY what that strain does in your body.

More than anything, when companies list the probiotic strains in their products, you get an extra layer of comfort. These companies know what’s important in probiotics and they took the time to select some of the better options. There’s also a better chance that this product will do your gut and microbiome some good.

With 4Life, you don’t need to question what strains are inside your probiotic blends. We have everything listed right on the bottle! Learn more here!


1 Fermented milk supplemented with probiotics and prebiotics can effectively alter the intestinal microbiota and immunity of host animals

2 Probiotic effects on cold and influenza-like symptom incidence and duration in children

3 Effects of seven potential probiotic strains on specific immune responses in healthy adults: a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial

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