Do Probiotics Need To Be Refrigerated? Not All Do


Not all probiotics need to be refrigerated. The need for refrigeration depends on whether the supplement contains live cultures and the specific strain of probiotics used.

Some probiotic supplement capsules are also naturally shelf-stable or utilize freeze-drying technology, which allows them to be stored at room temperature without losing potency.

Refrigeration, in the context of probiotics, refers to the practice of storing probiotic supplements or foods containing live cultures in a cool environment, typically in a refrigerator, to maintain the viability and potency of the beneficial probiotic bacteria.

What Probiotics Need To Be Refrigerated?

If your home storage environment is above 70f or 21.1c degrees then the probiotics Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Streptococcus will need to be refrigerated. Doing this will preserve the potency and shelf life of the probiotics.

If your home environment has humidity higher than 20%, then also store these probiotics in a refrigerator. High humidity can reactivate the bacteria and compromise their stability according to a 2022 study authored by Y Qiu.

Fermented probiotic foods like Kefir, Kimchi, and Sauerkraut, which contain probiotics, also require refrigeration to prevent spoilage. By keeping them cold, their quality and effectiveness can be maintained. This graphic below shows if you should refrigerate probiotics or not.


What Probiotics Don't Need To Be Refrigerated?

If your probiotic supplement contains strains like Bacillus Coagulans or yeasts like Saccharomyces Boulardii then they do not require refrigeration. These strains can withstand high temperatures and maintain their viability. For example, Bacillus Cereus, was found to be effectively killed at 145°F (63°C) within 15 seconds by USDA Gov. This resilience demonstrates that refrigeration is not necessary for all probiotics.

Freeze dried probiotics also don't need to be refrigerated. Freeze-drying is a process used to produce dried probiotic powders by exposing the probiotics to low temperatures and dehydration, which can potentially damage the cells, but the use of cryoprotectants helps enhance their shelf life.

What Happens If You Don't Refrigerate Probiotic Supplements?

If probiotics that require refrigeration are not properly stored, such as being left out at room temperature or exposed to heat and humidity, the bacteria can be negatively affected.

The high temperatures and moisture can lead to the death of some or all of the beneficial bacteria present in the probiotic supplement, even before the expiration date. This highlights the importance of refrigeration for certain probiotics to maintain their potency and effectiveness.

Yogurt and kefir, which are probiotic foods, also have the potential to spoil if not kept refrigerated. It is important to store probiotics in the manufacturer's recommended manner to ensure their viability and maximize their potential gut health benefits.

How To Travel With Probiotics That Require Refrigeration?

To travel with probiotics that require refrigeration you should use an insulated container without ice. This may help to preserve the shelf life of the probiotics during travel, depending on the strains, humidity and temperature of your present and future travel destination.

Do Probiotics Expire If Refrigerated?

Yes, Probiotics expire even if refrigerated. The expiration process will be slower than if not refrigerated and left out in room temperature. The expiration process does not make the probiotics go bad but it does reduce the probiotic's potency.

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