How do I Choose the Best Inulin Prebiotic Supplement?

Jamey Jones, B.Sc.

People looking for a dietary supplement to help with digestive complaints will likely find a large array of products intended to treat everything from heartburn to gas and bloating. One supplement recommended for digestive support is inulin prebiotic. When trying to narrow down your inulin prebiotic options, first consider supplement potency, or strength, which needs to be compared to ensure the product you choose has enough inulin to help. Second, company reputation is an important factor in choosing an inulin prebiotic.

Inulin prebiotics are often recommended for digestive support.
Inulin prebiotics are often recommended for digestive support.

Inulin is a dietary fiber known as a fructan; it is made up of long and short chains of oligosaccharides and polysaccharides. Basically, it is a long chain of fructose, or sugar, molecules. Inulin can be derived from a variety of fruits and vegetables, including chicory, artichoke, asparagus, wheat, onions and bananas. The primary source of inulin found in dietary supplements is chicory root, which contains a high amount of inulin and is the best source when taking cost and ease of production into account.

Too much inulin can cause gas and bloating.
Too much inulin can cause gas and bloating.

Inulin prebiotic fiber passes through the stomach and large intestine undigested. In the large intestine, inulin fiber is fermented by the bacteria present in the large intestine. Inulin is essentially food for the beneficial gut bacteria, or probiotic bacteria — thus the name, prebiotic. Inulin stimulates bacterial growth in the digestive system, which has been linked to many beneficial digestive health effects. Inulin prebiotic fiber is not digested in the small intestine, so it has a reduced caloric value.

High potency is desired when comparing potency of inulin prebiotic supplements.
High potency is desired when comparing potency of inulin prebiotic supplements.

When comparing potency of inulin prebiotic supplements, high potency is desired. Most studies have found that between 5 grams and 10 grams is an effective dose for digestive support. To obtain that much inulin, a few capsules have to be taken at once. For people who have a difficult time swallowing capsules, inulin also can be purchased in powder form. Powdered inulin dissolves in water and can be easily mixed with liquids.

As with any dietary supplement, alert your physician if you experience any unpleasant side effects while taking inulin prebiotics.
As with any dietary supplement, alert your physician if you experience any unpleasant side effects while taking inulin prebiotics.

Company reputation should also be determined when choosing a supplement. Look for a dietary supplement manufacturer that follows good manufacturing practice regulations (cGMP) as stated on the bottle. If the company is well-established and has a good reputation as a reliable and responsible dietary supplement manufacturer, you are more likely to be getting a high-quality inulin prebiotic.

Inulin prebiotic fiber is fermented by the bacteria present in the large intestine.
Inulin prebiotic fiber is fermented by the bacteria present in the large intestine.

Inulin prebiotic supplements often contain fructooligosaccharide (FOS), which is a component of inulin. FOS itself has been well-studied for its digestive support. Some products only list FOS as the prebiotic ingredient, but FOS comes from inulin and works similarly in the body. This should also be considered when choosing an inulin supplement.

There are a variety of dietary supplements available that can help ease any number of digestive issues.
There are a variety of dietary supplements available that can help ease any number of digestive issues.
A pharmacist or healthcare provider may be able to offer advice on choosing over-the-counter inulin prebiotic supplements.
A pharmacist or healthcare provider may be able to offer advice on choosing over-the-counter inulin prebiotic supplements.
Drinking warm water and taking inulin prebiotic supplements may help maintain digestive health.
Drinking warm water and taking inulin prebiotic supplements may help maintain digestive health.

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Discussion Comments

Raynbow

You don't have to spend a lot of money on prebiotic inulin supplements, because the inexpensive brands are very similar to more costly brands.

Heavanet

I think an important question to ask yourself before buying a prebiotic supplement is do you prefer to swallow or chew it. Different companies make different varieties, so you will have several options.

A lot of people prefer to swallow pills so they can't taste them. However, some people just can't swallow pills. The good thing about prebiotic supplements is that they don't have a terrible taste, so chewing them is an option. The type that you can swallow are generally small and coated, so they are just as easy to take.

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