Acidophilus is known as a probiotic and is part of a group of beneficial intestinal bacteria called lactobacilli. L. acidophilus is present in the intestines at birth and is eventually joined by another well known bacteria called L. bifidus. Both are highly beneficial to the proper function of the intestine and to overall health and may be the most important bacteria of over 400 species in the digestive tract. It helps maintain a normal balance of health flora (bacteria). This form of "healthy" bacteria is beneficial to the human digestive tract so that it may continue optimal functioning and may also play an important role in supporting immune system function.
2. What does it do and what scientific studies give evidence to support this?
There is much scientific evidence showing the benefit and actually the necessity of probiotic bacteria such as acidophilus. Such evidence is however, commonly shrugged off in our society of antibacterial super-users. Such good bacteria as acidophilus play an important role in the production of many nutrients and in the proper absorption of nutrients. Acidophilus also acts to keep destructive yeasts and bacteria suppressed therefore maintaining a healthy balance within the body. An extra benefit of supplementing with probiotics like L. acidophilus is the detoxification of the system which invariably reduces much of the stress on the liver. Many studies have suggested that acidophilus may be an immunity enhancer suppressing the toxic effects of carcinogens.
3. Who needs it and what are some symptoms of deficiency?
Everyone needs acidophilus, it is an essential part of the digestive tract. But it becomes especially important to take acidophilus when one is in a state of deficiency. Supplementing with L. acidophilus during and after the use of antibiotics is of extreme importance since antibiotics will kill off the majority of good bacteria and cause symptoms of deficiency and possible overgrowth of various yeasts.
4. How much should be taken? Are there any side effects?
The amount taken varies depending on what you are trying to treat or if you're just going for a maintenance amount. Usually the directions listed on the bottle will work for just about any of the symptoms of deficiency. As a general rule, there should be no less than 1 billion active organisms per gram and they should be taken with food and stored in a cool place. Heat and freezing will kill acidophilus. It is best to get an acidophilus supplement that is has an enteric coating as this helps the organisms to be delivered to the intestine unharmed.
The only side effects may be a little gas for maybe the first week as your body adjusts to the bacterial shift. After the first week the gas will subside.
5. Where can I get it?
The primary food source for acidophilus is cultured foods such as yogurt but you have to make sure that the container states it has live and active cultures. This option may not be open to everyone so the best source is supplement form. Bodybuilding.com has many options for supplementing acidophilus with one of the best being made by Enzymatic Therapy called Acidophilus Pearls.