Garden of Life Probiotics Review: Too Highly Dosed?

Garden of Life Probiotics Review: Too Highly Dosed?


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Garden of Life is one of the most popular supplement companies in the U.S. The brand sells a range of products, but their probiotics are highly popular, and the brand claims that their probiotics have "billions of diverse, clinically studied strains that promote digestive balance.”

But do Garden of Life probiotics actually contain ingredients proven in research studies to have health benefits, or are these just marketing claims? Does the brand include questionable additive ingredients in their formulations? What retailer sells Garden of Life probiotics for the best price? And how do real users rate and describe the effects of Garden of Life probiotics?

In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more as we analyze the ingredients in Garden of Life probiotics based on medical studies to give our take on whether the supplement is likely to be effective or if it’s a waste of money.

We’ll also publish a cost breakdown documenting which retailer sells Garden of Life probiotics for the best price, and feature real, unsponsored Garden of Life probiotics user reviews.

Ingredient Analysis

Garden of Life probiotics ingredients

The ingredients in Garden of Life Raw Probiotics Ultimate Care are shown above.

This supplement contains 34 different types of probiotics (the brand incorrectly describes them all as strains, while only four specific strains are listed). Some of these probiotics are shown in research studies to have positive health effects.

Bifidobacterium lactis was shown in a clinical trial published in the Nutrition journal to reduce obesity and cholesterol levels in overweight adults. However, the specific strain used differed from the ones in Garden of Life Raw Probiotics.

Lactobacillus bulgaricus was shown in a 2020 clinical trial to reduce cancer risk and intestinal inflammation, however this was an in vitro (test tube) study which makes the results weaker than a human trial.

Lactobacillus acidophilus is clinically shown to improve intestinal health and gut function, as we documented in our 1MD reviews article on another popular probiotic supplement brand that contains this ingredient.

Bifidobacterium longum is beneficial for patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), according to a clinical trial published in the Gut Microbes journal. 

Lactobacillus casei may be effective for reducing allergy symptoms and obesity according to a 2018 meta-study. The study authors concluded the following: “The health-promoting capabilities of the [Lactobacillus casei group] have been documented in several studies suggesting real potential for their use in the treatment, or prevention, of a variety of diseases.”

Clearly there are a number of effective probiotic species with wide ranging health effects in this supplement. But taking probiotics generally at an effective dose (which Garden of Life probiotics provides) also has research-backed benefits.

Regular probiotic supplementation was shown in a 2021 medical review to not only support optimal gut health but also to potentially reverse existing gut damage.

Garden of Life Raw Probiotics Ultimate Care is free of any questionable or unhealthy additives. Its inactive ingredients are safe and non-toxic.

Our only complaint about this formulation is the unnecessary inclusion of “Eastern European” herbs at minute doses. Brands often do this to make their Supplement Facts label look more impressive, but the example below will show how pointless these ingredients are.

The entire herb blend in Garden of Life has a total dose of 45 milligrams (mg), or 6 mg per ingredient.

According to the USDA, one cherry is equivalent to a cherry dose of 8,200 mg. This means that one single cherry has a dose over 1,000 times greater than the cherry dose in Garden of Life probiotics. This is the one ingredient in this product that is dosed very low.

Overall, we consider this supplement likely to be effective for supporting optimal gut health and digestion because it provides an effective probiotic dose. We consider this to be one of the best probiotic supplements we’ve reviewed on Illuminate Health given the lack of unhealthy additives.

But how do real users rate and describe the effects of Garden of Life probiotics? We’ll review in the next section.

Real, Unsponsored Garden of Life Probiotics Reviews

A TikTok user named Penny Gsell claims that Garden of Life probiotics helped fix her gut health, and includes before-and-after images:

@pennygsell Probiotics are essential for gut health #gardenoflife #guthealth #debloat #bloatingrelief #guthealthtips #bloatinghack #bloatingremedies #debloating ♬ Steven Universe - L.Dre

A YouTube creator named “Surfer - 76” shared his experience using the “Mood+” version of Garden of Life Probiotics: 

Do Garden of Life Probiotics Cause Side Effects?

Given that probiotics alter gut function, consumers are often curious about whether they can cause side effects.

Garden of Life Probiotics don’t appear to be tested in any clinical trials, so it’s impossible to say for certain whether or not the supplement causes side effects. However, we can make an educated guess based on its ingredients.

Higher-dose probiotics may have an increased risk of side effects, as we discussed in our Align probiotic reviews article. This makes logical sense, given that the more live and active cultures in a probiotic, the more biological effects will take place in the gut.

Garden of Life probiotic dosing is very high, at 100 billion colony-forming units (CFU) per serving. As documented in this probiotic fact sheet published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), many probiotic supplements only contain 1 to 10 billion CFU.

We consider Garden of Life Probiotics somewhat more likely to cause side effects than the average probiotic supplement due to the high dose, but these side effects are often minor such as gas and bloating.

We do not consider this supplement likely to cause serious side effects in otherwise healthy individuals.

Where to Buy Garden of Life Probiotics for the Best Price

Garden of Life Probiotics are sold at a variety of online retailers. Here’s a price breakdown for Garden of Life Raw Probiotics Ultimate Care at the time of publishing this article:

The Vitamin Shoppe: $48.99

Brand website: $47.99 (free shipping)

iHerb: $41.99

Walmart: $36.99 (third-party seller)

Amazon: $36.94 (free shippinglink to official Amazon listing)

Garden of Life’s flagship probiotic supplement is currently 23% cheaper on Amazon than on the brand’s website.

Real Customers Review Garden of Life Probiotics

Amazon is a better resource for honest customer review than a brand’s website in our opinion.

Garden of Life Raw Probiotics Ultimate Care has been reviewed over 9,000 times on Amazon, with an average review rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars.

The top positive review from a verified purchaser comes from a user named “Synthia Parham” who claims the supplement has helped reverse the deleterious effects of antibiotic usage on the gut:

“After a bad bacterial infection, I was prescribed a very strong antibiotics. I knew I needed something to replace the good bacteria that was lost. Yogurt wasn't working…5 days made a real difference, and I didn't have any problems with taking it, no bad side effects, feeling great, and back to normal. I should say better than before. I now take one in the morning, as it keeps me regular.”

The top negative review from a verified purchaser is written by a user named “LJB” who gives the supplement a 1-star rating and claims it causes side effects:

“Within one hour of taking his first dose, my husband felt ill, headache, upset stomach, saliva thickening…like food poisoning. Throughout the night he spent hours in the bathroom vomiting and diarrhea - he said his scalp started to get irritated and he was itchy. When he looked he saw huge welts / rash all over upper legs and armpits and could feel an odd sensation in his lips too. That was 2 nights ago and his throat is still burnt from throwing up”

Our Clean Probiotic Picks

Express 3-in-1 Probiotic by Bulletproof is our top probiotic supplement pick. It contains both prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics to support optimal gut health, and costs under $35 at the time of updating this article.

VSL#3 is our top premium probiotic pick. This probiotic supplement has been studied in 25 clinical trials, and a 2020 meta-study on VSL#3 concluded the following:

"...many studies demonstrated that VSL#3 has a beneficial effect on obesity and diabetes, allergic diseases, nervous systemic diseases, AS, bone diseases, and female reproductive systemic diseases."

MBG Organic Fiber Potency+ is our top prebiotic fiber pick because it's certified organic, provides 7 g of fiber per serving and costs under $1.85 per serving at the time of updating this article.

MBG Organic Fiber Potency+ contains 100% soluble fiber, which was described as "one of the most important nutrients for the gut microbiota" in a clinical review published in the Molecules journal. 

All three of the supplements recommended in this section are entirely free of additive ingredients that we consider to be questionable or unhealthy.

Pros and Cons of Garden of Life Probiotics

Here are the pros and cons of Garden of Life Probiotics in our opinion:

Pros:

  • Zero unhealthy additives
  • Contains effective probiotic dose
  • Contains research-backed probiotic species
  • Highly positive customer reviews
  • Brand passed ConsumerLab testing
  • Affordable given potency

Cons:

  • Doesn’t appear clinically tested
  • Contains incredibly small herbal ingredient doses
  • High potency may increase side effect risk
Stay up-to-date on our research reviews

Conclusion

Garden of Life Probiotics is one of the best probiotic formulations that we’ve reviewed to date on Illuminate Health. 

This supplement contains a number of research-backed probiotic types, provides an effective probiotic dose and is free of any questionable or unhealthy additive ingredients like refined sugar or flavoring agents.

We consider Garden of Life probiotics likely to support optimal gut and digestive health, and recommend the supplement based on its formulation.

This product may be somewhat more likely to cause side effects than the average probiotic supplement due to its high dose. However, we do not believe that otherwise healthy adults are likely to experience side effects from its use.

Most customer reviews we came across while researching this article were highly favorable.

For consumers interested in purchasing Garden of Life probiotics, Amazon currently has the best price.