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The Difference Between Multi-Strain and Single-Strain Probiotic Supplements

Category: Educational Articles

The more scientists learn about the fascinating ecosystem of bacteria living inside of us, referred to as the human microbiome, the more it becomes clear that influencing the good bacteria in your gut can have massive positive effects on your overall health and wellbeing. Most studies on the effectiveness of probiotic supplements revolve around individual strains, and there are far fewer studies that look specifically at the effectiveness of multi-strain probiotic supplements. When shopping for probiotics, you will find both single and multi-strain options widely available. In fact, choosing between the two will probably be one of your first considerations, so it might be helpful to know the differences before deciding on which product is best for you.

The human body is chock full of different kinds of bacteria, both good and bad, and each strain has a different effect on our health. Gut bacteria aid in digestion, are a major part of our immune system, and can help our overall wellbeing in a number of ways. Human clinical studies provide the best method to determine the amount of a particular probiotic needed to provide a health benefit and it is much less complicated to assign cause and effect associations with single strains rather than multi-strain formulations. Single strain products are more likely to contain clinical doses than are multi-strain due to practical constraint, such as cost and dosage size required, although there are some multi-strain clinically researched products in the market.

While most studies on probiotics look at the effects of individual strains, a recent paper examined the results of studies that looked at the effects of supplements containing multiple strains. The paper found that mixtures of probiotics had beneficial effects on multiple health conditions, while boosting overall gut and immune function. Although only 16 studies compared the effect of a mixed supplement against its individual component strains, in 12 of those cases the mixture was shown to be more effective.

Despite these promising results, it must be noted that, at this point in the research, it is impossible to definitively say whether or not multi-strain probiotic supplements are, on the whole, more effective than single strains. A meta-analysis of probiotic research suggests that it is possible to say these multi-strain supplements have been highly effective at calming certain gut conditions, while boosting overall gut and immune performance, meaning that they appear to be the simplest and most effective overall strategy.

Far more studies have been done on the effectiveness of single strains of gut bacteria. One advantage of these single strains is that they allow users to pick and choose which healthy bacteria to increase. Everyone has a different ecosystem of bacteria, and sometimes there is a deficiency or total lack of certain beneficial bacteria. One study found that certain strains could be ‘grafted’ into a gut microbiome that was lacking a particular strain. These findings suggest that bacterial species absent in the gut microbiome of certain individuals can be reestablished, allowing for precise and personalized microbiome reconstitution.

New diagnostic tests based on DNA analysis are being employed to help determine an individual’s microbiome makeup. These new tools may make it easier for the consumer to make informed decisions about probiotic supplementation choices and assist with the development of more effective products based on individual needs.

There are so many factors to consider when selecting the right probiotic supplement for you that it can get a bit overwhelming. One of the very first choices you will face is whether to choose a probiotic supplement with a single bacterial strain or one with multiple strains. Choosing the right bacterial strain or strains can make a major difference in whether or not the bacteria survive and impact the microbiome, giving you the health benefits you are looking for.

At Deerland Probiotics & Enzymes, we take pride in the science-supported dietary supplement formulations we develop with our customers. Although we specialize in customized formulations, we have also developed an exclusive line of university-studied products which can be used as-is, or as the basis for a custom formulation. Our Ph.D. and M.D.-led research and product development teams are on top of the latest technological developments and supplement market trends, delivering the most advanced product lines available. To learn more about formulating a probiotic supplement, visit


An educational enzyme and probiotic resource

Digestible is your go-to resource for learning about enzymes, probiotics and their impact on digestive health. Keep up with the latest trends in dietary supplements, learn why gut health is critical to overall wellness and immunity, and the science behind it all.

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About The Expert
John Davidson
Director of Education and Innovation, Deerland Enzymes & Probiotics

John Davidson has been formulating enzyme based dietary supplements for more than 30 years, with a particular focus in human digestion. Davidson’s wide range of experience encompasses nearly all aspects of supplement manufacturing; including QC/QA, blending, encapsulation, tableting, research & development, product development and technical services. In his current role as the Director of Education and Innovation for Deerland Probiotics & Enzymes, Davidson is responsible for both new product innovation, collaborating with R&D and Sales to bring new products to market.

John Davidson

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