To answer your question with solid facts, I have fetched information from high authority sources and looked over the gastroenterologist’s views about overdosing on probiotics.
Since you are here, you might be facing some probiotic side effects or are just overthinking about the consequences of eating too much kimchi, yogurt, or some probiotic gummies.
Whatever the case, it is a fun fact that our gut harbors over 100 trillion microbes, so the chances of overdosing on probiotics are extremely low. So, even though it shouldn’t be a big deal for our gut to make space for at least half a million new bacteria, it does take some time to do so.
Therefore, this article will fill you in on the safe limit for probiotics, what will happen if you exceed it, and the corrective measures you can take in this case.
So, keep reading to know more.
How Much Probiotic Per Day Is Safe?
Compared to other dosages, the majority of clinical trials vouch for the use of probiotic doses between 1 to 20 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) per serving.
Nonetheless, you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions to determine a safe limit for the supplements. Regardless of that, there is no evidence that shows that higher doses could be harmful.
How Much Probiotic Per Day Is Too Much?
The American Family Physician (AAFP) compiled the available clinical data on different probiotic strains and suggested that:
‘The most significant and safe doses for children range around 5 billion CFUs per day. Whereas for adults, more than 10 billion CFUs per day are more effective.’
Surprisingly, studies show that, for Lactobacillus sp., doses as high as 100 million to 1.8 trillion CFUs per day do not cause any adverse side effects in the participants.
Corresponding to this, the S. boulardii dose that rendered positive results in most studies ranges between 250 mg and 500 mg per day.
Moreover, according to the summary on the regulation of probiotics provided by the John Hopkins institute of Public Health (JSPH), FDA has granted the GRAS status to several probiotic species belonging to Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, and Streptococcus genus.
This implies that as long as these strains are within the range of current good manufacturing practices, they won’t cause any harm and will remain safe for consumption.
So, let’s have a look at the allowed limits for some FDA GRAS microbial strains.
Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG- LGG
In 2019, the L. rhamnosus LGG bacteria secured the FDA GRAS status as an ingredient that could be used in conventional foods.
Moreover, its intended levels of use were specified at 108 to 1010 CFU/ serving.
However, the initial addition can be as high as 1011 CFU/serving as long-term storage of the products may lead to a decrease in the numbers of viable cells.
Here, over 260 clinical trials performed on newborns, preterm infants, children, adults, pregnant women, and the elderly back the safety of these doses.
Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS -1
In 2019, The L. acidophilus DDS-1 strain was approved for use as an FDA GRAS ingredient in foods and supplements that are to be consumed by the general population.
Additionally, its intended levels of use are defined between 109 to 1011 CFU per serving.
Here again, this specie got regulatory approval because clinical trials support its use in all age groups, including infants to even older adults aged 86 years old.
Bifidobacterium animalis ssp. lactis UABla-12
In 2019, this B.animalis sub-specie was listed as an FDA GRAS ingredient that can be added to all foods and consumed by both adults and children. The intended levels of use for this specie were limited to 109 to 1011 CFU per serving.
In this case, this approval was given on the basis of its history of safe use as a probiotic culture for both humans and animals.
What Happens If You Consume Too Many Probiotics?
There is no defined upper limit for probiotics, but consuming ‘too much of them may throw off your gut microbiota balance and cause some mild side effects.
So, here is what you may expect.
An overdose of probiotics may upset your gut and cause mild issues like flatulence, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, or bloating. There is also considerable evidence of such occurrences, and the story shared by Sydni Ellis is just one of them.
She writes on Yahoo lifestyle that she used to take 30 billion CFU/day for her IBS, but every time she took the pills, she ended up with a stomach ache and felt nauseous and sick. Until one day, she realized that she didn’t get these symptoms when she incidentally forgot to take her probiotics at night.
So, she consulted Dr. Niket Sonpal (a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist in New York City), who explained that consuming too many probiotics over-populates the gut with good bacteria.
Therefore, every time you put something in the stomach, there will be an increase in microbial activity, and the microorganisms will rush to help with its digestion, generating gas as a by-product.
Hence, with the doctor’s recommendation, Sydney shifted to 5 billion CFU/day, and her symptoms got better within a week.
So, if you see these symptoms as well, talk to your doctor and start with a lower dose and shift to a higher dose when your gut gets used to them.
Probiotic Overdose Treatment – What To Do If I Took Too Many Probiotics?
Probiotic overdose may not cause life-threatening consequences in healthy people, but in case side effects occur, try to manage your symptoms, discontinue the supplement, and consult your doctor.
Also, let your gut heal on your own. Don’t be too anxious if you accidentally took 2 probiotics, as some manufacturers even recommend three pills to get the optimum dose.
Here are some things you should keep in mind if the need arises:
Since a probiotic overdose may cause diarrhea and vomiting, so remember to drink lots of water to prevent dehydration. Moreover, you may try drinking herbal teas to relieve bloating, flatulence, nausea, and abdominal pain.
For instance, ginger, honey, and lemon tea have traditionally been used to soothe stomach problems.
Additionally, scientific studies also show that ginger speeds up stomach emptying and reduces stomach cramping, gas, and indigestion.
Discontinue the Probiotics Supplement
It is not very likely for the probiotic bacteria to get incorporated into your gut microbiome or permanently alter it.
Therefore, after a few days to a week, subsequent defecations will carry away a lot of bacteria, and your gut will go back to its pre-supplementation state.
Hence, this may fade away the side effects of overdosing.
Consult with Your Doctor
Apart from all this, don’t skip the visit to your doctor because he may suggest you the probiotic strains and dosages that may suit your needs better so that you can continue taking them without the risk of overdosing.
Is 100 billion probiotics too much?
No, studies have not found concerning consequences of taking doses as high as 100 billion CFUs/day, but still, you should start with lower doses before moving to higher ones.
Is 50 billion probiotics too much?
No, 50 billion probiotics may instead be beneficial in some conditions but try to limit your probiotic dose to 10 to 20 billion CFU per day otherwise.
Can a child overdose on probiotics?
Yes, children may overdose on probiotics. It is because their gut microbiome and immune system are still developing, so they are more prone to gut unrest and disease.
Can too many probiotics cause constipation?
No, constipation is not typical of probiotics as bacteria like Bifidobacterium species may help with regularity instead. However, you should be attentive to your fiber and water intake with probiotics if you observe this symptom.
Should you take a break from probiotics?
Taking a break from probiotics depends on how you feel; if you face side effects, you may take a break from them. Otherwise, you may continue taking them for a lifetime.
Moreover, probiotics are not a treatment drug, so you can start or stop their intake as you please.
Can you overdose on gummy probiotics?
Yes, but it depends on the number of probiotics CFUs each gummy has to offer. Nonetheless, a dose of up to 20 billion CFUs per serving is generally well tolerated.
Can you overdose a dog on probiotics?
Yes, although this is highly unlikely, similar to humans, a high dose of probiotics may also upset the dog’s stomach until his gut adjusts to them.
Can you overdose a cat on probiotics?
Yes, this possibility can be expected but is extremely rare, and even if an overdose of good bacteria occurs, the most that will happen is a stomach upset in cats.
To conclude, although you can take too many probiotics, they are not likely to cause a harmful overdose. In this case, the most that can happen is a stomach upset, or you may feel gassy.
An upset stomach isn’t always a symptom of overdose, and it might occur because your gut is adjusting to the good bacteria. Hence, these symptoms may resolve on their own after your microbiome reaches equilibrium within a week or so.
However, in case you face severe issues, it is better to take your doctor’s recommendation on whether you have to stop intake, continue it, or change the probiotic you are taking.