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Article updated on:

September 26, 2023

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Do Probiotics Have To Be Refrigerated? (2023)

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Do Probiotics Have To Be Refrigerated? (2023)

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Do Probiotics Have to Be Refrigerated? This article gets straight to the point, answering whether your probiotics need cold storage for maximum effectiveness. We examine the factors that may require refrigeration, the risks of not doing so, and what experts recommend. All backed by science, so you can make an informed decision.

Do Probiotics Have To Be Refrigerated

Probiotics do not always have to be refrigerated, but refrigeration can help maintain their potency and shelf life. The survivability of probiotics depends on factors such as the specific strain, the formulation, and the storage conditions. Some probiotic strains are more resistant to environmental stress and can maintain their potency at room temperature, while others may require refrigeration to ensure their viability[4].

For instance, spore-forming strains of probiotics are more resistant to environmental stress during shelf life, which means they may not require refrigeration[4]. On the other hand, some studies have shown that the survivability of certain probiotics, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus plantarum, can be influenced by factors like inoculum size, inulin concentration, and ascorbic and citric acids' concentration when stored at refrigerated temperatures[2].

It is essential to follow the storage instructions provided by the manufacturer to ensure the probiotics maintain their potency and effectiveness. If you are unsure about the storage requirements for a specific probiotic product, it is best to consult the product label or contact the manufacturer for guidance.

Probiotics that Don't Require Refriegeration

The best probiotics that do not require refrigeration are those that are more resistant to environmental stress and can maintain their potency at room temperature. Some examples include spore-forming strains of probiotics, such as Bacillus species.

Seed probiotics do not need to be refrigerated. They are shelf-stable for 18 months at temperatures up to 78℉ and remain safe to take even when expired, although the company cannot guarantee their potency at that point. The outer capsule of Seed's Daily Synbiotic serves as a barrier to oxygen, moisture, and heat, which is why no refrigeration is required.

However, specific products and strains may vary in their stability and storage requirements.One study found that Enterococcus faecium and Lactobacillus plantarum strains exhibited good probiotic potential and were used to formulate synbiotic functional foods, which could be stored without refrigeration. Another study focused on microencapsulation of Bifidobacterium BB-12, which aimed to improve the survival of probiotics under various storage conditions, including room temperature

It is essential to check the product label or consult the manufacturer for information on storage requirements and stability for specific probiotic products. Keep in mind that the effectiveness of probiotics can be influenced by factors such as strain, formulation, and storage conditions.

Factors that Affect Probiotics

While probiotics offer numerous health benefits, it is essential to consider factors that can influence their effectiveness. Proper storage and handling of probiotic products are crucial in preserving their viability and potency. Several environmental factors can impact the survival and quality of probiotics, including temperature, moisture, and delivery method.


Temperature plays a vital role in maintaining probiotic viability. Most probiotic strains are sensitive to extreme heat or prolonged exposure to high temperatures. Elevated temperatures can lead to a decline in probiotic counts, rendering them less effective or completely inactive. Consequently, it is crucial to store probiotics in conditions that preserve their stability, particularly in relation to temperature fluctuations.


Moisture is another critical factor to consider when storing probiotics. Excessive moisture can trigger the growth of unwanted microorganisms, compromising the viability of probiotic strains. It is vital to keep probiotics in a dry environment and avoid exposing them to excessive humidity.

Delivery Method

The method of delivering probiotics also affects their viability and potency. Probiotic supplements usually come in various forms, such as capsules, tablets, and powders. The manufacturing process and the choice of excipients significantly influence the stability of probiotic strains during production and storage. Ensuring a proper delivery method that preserves the viability of probiotics is essential to achieve the desired health benefits.

Probiotics and Refrigeration

Refrigeration has long been associated with the preservation of perishable goods, including food items. When it comes to probiotics, refrigeration is often recommended, but is it always necessary? Understanding the reasons behind refrigeration and its effect on probiotics is crucial to properly handling these beneficial microorganisms.

Reasons behind Refrigeration

Refrigeration is commonly recommended for probiotics due to its ability to slow down bacterial growth and maintain a lower temperature. This lower temperature helps extend the shelf life of probiotic products and prevent the overgrowth of unwanted bacteria, particularly during storage. Moreover, refrigeration can help retain the potency and effectiveness of probiotics, ensuring maximum health benefits when consumed.

The Effect of Low Temperatures on Probiotics

Low temperatures have a substantial impact on the survival and efficacy of probiotics. By slowing down metabolic processes, refrigeration helps prolong the viability of probiotic microorganisms. The cold environment inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria, allowing the probiotics to maintain their population and functionality.

However, it is important to note that not all types of probiotics require refrigeration. Different strains display varying degrees of sensitivity to temperature. Some probiotic strains are resilient enough to survive at room temperature or slightly above, while others necessitate a consistently cooler environment to remain viable.

Types of Probiotics that Require Refrigeration

While some probiotic products can be stored at room temperature, certain types of probiotics benefit from refrigeration to ensure optimal viability and potency.

Refrigerated Probiotic Supplements

Probiotic supplements, available in the form of capsules or tablets, may require refrigeration to maintain their efficacy. These supplements often contain live bacteria in a dormant state. Refrigeration helps prolong the dormant state of these probiotics, ensuring that they remain viable and provide the expected health benefits when consumed.

Probiotic Foods that Need Refrigeration

Certain probiotic foods, particularly fermented products, are best stored in cold conditions to preserve their probiotic content. Yogurt, kefir, and other dairy-based probiotic foods are prime examples of items that require refrigeration. The cooling temperature helps slow down the metabolism of bacteria present in these foods, preventing an overgrowth of unwanted bacteria and maintaining the quality and viability of probiotics.

Types of Probiotics that Don't Require Refrigeration

While refrigeration is often associated with the storage of probiotics, several strains and product forms can withstand room temperature without a decline in viability.

Shelf Stable Probiotics

Shelf-stable probiotics are specifically formulated to withstand higher temperatures and do not require refrigeration. These probiotics are commonly available in the form of capsules, powders, or sachets. Shelf-stable probiotics are designed to resist the effects of moisture and heat, allowing them to remain viable and potent even in non-refrigerated conditions.

Non-refrigerated Probiotic Foods

Certain probiotic foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and some pickles, remain viable without refrigeration due to the fermentation process. The naturally occurring microbes in these foods create an acidic environment that protects the probiotic bacteria from harmful pathogens. As long as these foods are properly sealed and stored in a cool, dark place, they can retain their probiotic content without the need for refrigeration.

Storage Guidelines for Probiotics

Proper storage of probiotics is essential to maintain their potency and maximize their health benefits. Following recommended storage guidelines ensures that probiotics remain viable and effective throughout their shelf life.

Probiotic Packaging

Probiotics are commonly packaged in airtight containers or blister packs that protect them from oxygen, moisture, and light. These packaging methods help preserve the viability of probiotic strains by creating a barrier against external factors that can potentially compromise their quality.

When storing probiotic supplements, it is crucial to seal the container tightly after use, preventing exposure to air and moisture. For probiotic foods, it is advisable to check the packaging for any signs of damage or tampering before purchase.

Ideal Storage Conditions

The ideal storage conditions for probiotics depend on the specific strain and product type. Generally, refrigerated probiotic supplements and foods should be stored at a temperature between 36°F (2°C) and 46°F (8°C). Shelf-stable probiotics and non-refrigerated probiotic foods can be safely stored at room temperature, preferably below 77°F (25°C).

It is important to place probiotic products away from direct sunlight and heat sources, as these factors can shorten their shelf life and diminish their effectiveness. Additionally, storing probiotics in a dry and cool environment, such as a pantry or refrigerator, helps maintain their potency and prolong their viability.

Safety Precautions for Probiotic Storage

To ensure the safety and efficacy of probiotics, it is crucial to adhere to a few safety precautions during storage. Firstly, it is important to keep probiotics out of reach of children, as they may mistake them for food or sweets. Secondly, probiotic supplements should not be transferred into unmarked containers, as this may lead to confusion or potential contamination.

Furthermore, when purchasing probiotic products, it is advisable to check the expiration date and follow the recommended usage guidelines provided by the manufacturer. Proper storage and handling of probiotics contribute to their longevity and effectiveness, allowing individuals to reap the maximum health benefits.

The Impact of Refrigeration on Probiotic Potency

Refrigeration is often associated with prolonging the potency of probiotics and enhancing their effectiveness. However, understanding the dynamics between refrigeration and probiotic potency is crucial in making informed decisions regarding their storage and usage.

Declining Effectiveness over Time

Although refrigeration helps preserve the viability of probiotics, it does not equate to indefinite shelf life. Over time, even when stored at a lower temperature, probiotic counts may gradually decline. Factors such as exposure to moisture, oxygen, and light can compromise the survival of probiotic strains, leading to a reduction in potency.

To ensure the maximum benefit from probiotics, it is advisable to use them within their specified expiration date and follow the recommended dosage instructions. Consequently, regular assessment of probiotic product conditions and identification of signs of deterioration are essential for maintaining their efficacy.

Refrigeration compared to Room Temperature Storage

Comparing the impact of refrigeration and room temperature storage on probiotic potency reveals notable differences. Refrigeration, by virtue of its lower temperature, helps slow down bacterial growth and metabolic processes, thereby increasing the lifespan and efficacy of probiotics. It maintains a more optimal environment for probiotic strains, reducing the risk of overgrowth of unwanted bacteria.

On the other hand, room temperature storage poses challenges to the longevity of probiotics. Higher temperatures accelerate bacterial growth and can lead to a shorter shelf life. However, with the emergence of shelf-stable probiotics and certain non-refrigerated probiotic foods, it is possible to obtain viable and potent probiotics without the need for constant refrigeration.

Identifying the Need for Refrigeration

Understanding whether probiotics require refrigeration mainly depends on the instructions provided by the manufacturer and the specific strains of bacteria or yeasts present in the product.

Package Instructions

The packaging of probiotic products often contains explicit instructions regarding their storage and handling. Manufacturers typically indicate whether refrigeration is necessary for optimal preservation and potency. It is advisable to carefully read and follow these instructions to ensure the viability and effectiveness of probiotics.

Additionally, product labels may provide specific temperature ranges that are ideal for storing probiotics. Adhering to these temperature guidelines can help individuals determine the need for refrigeration and maintain the quality of probiotic products.

Understanding Strains of Probiotics

The diversity of probiotic strains plays a significant role in determining their temperature sensitivities. Some strains are more resilient and can withstand higher temperatures, while others require consistently cooler conditions. Understanding the specific strains present in probiotic products can aid in assessing their refrigeration requirements.

Additionally, seeking guidance from healthcare professionals or probiotic experts can provide valuable insights into the strains of probiotics that are more susceptible to temperature fluctuations, thus requiring refrigeration for optimal preservation.

Alternative Methods of Preserving Probiotics

While refrigeration is a common method of preserving probiotics, alternative techniques have been developed to enhance their stability and extend their shelf life.

Freeze-drying Probiotics

Freeze-drying, also known as lyophilization, is a widely utilized method for preserving probiotics. This technique involves freezing the probiotic strains and subjecting them to vacuum conditions to remove moisture. Freeze-dried probiotics have a significantly reduced water content, increasing their stability and resistance to damage caused by temperature fluctuations. This preservation method allows probiotics to maintain their viability even without refrigeration, making them suitable for various storage conditions.

Microencapsulation Technique

Microencapsulation is another preservation technique employed to protect probiotics from environmental factors. It involves coating the probiotic strains with a protective layer, such as a polymer, lipid, or protein, to shield them from temperature extremes, moisture, and oxygen. Microencapsulated probiotics show improved resistance to conditions that may compromise their viability, providing an extended shelf life and enabling safer storage in diverse environments.

Both freeze-drying and microencapsulation techniques contribute to the improved stability of probiotics and offer viable alternatives to refrigeration, expanding the options for preserving these beneficial microorganisms.

Consequences of Improper Storage of Probiotics

Improper storage of probiotics can lead to the deterioration of their quality, resulting in a reduction of the probiotic count and diminishing their potential health benefits. Understanding the consequences of improper storage is essential in order to make informed decisions regarding the maintenance of probiotics' viability.

Reduction in Probiotic Count

Continuous exposure to unfavorable conditions, such as high temperatures or excessive moisture, can lead to a decline in the probiotic count over time. Probiotic strains, particularly those that are more sensitive, may gradually lose their viability, rendering them less effective or completely inactive. It is essential to store probiotics properly to prevent a significant reduction in their count and ensure their potency.

Loss of Probiotic Health Benefits

Improper storage of probiotics, especially when exposed to extreme temperatures or inadequate packaging, can result in the loss of probiotic health benefits. Inactive or diminished probiotic strains may not offer the same positive effects on gut health, immune function, and other aspects of well-being.

Thus, it is crucial to store probiotics in conditions that maintain their potency and viability, ensuring that individuals obtain the intended health benefits when consuming these beneficial microorganisms.

In conclusion, probiotics are living microorganisms that provide various health benefits when consumed in adequate amounts. Proper storage is essential in preserving their potency and maintaining their viability. While refrigeration is often recommended for probiotic supplements and certain food items, alternative techniques such as freeze-drying and microencapsulation offer viable options for preserving probiotics without requiring constant refrigeration. Adhering to storage guidelines, understanding the specific strains of probiotics, and following package instructions are crucial in maximizing the potential health benefits these microorganisms offer. By properly storing probiotics and ensuring their viability, individuals can take full advantage of the positive effects probiotics have on gut health, immune function, and overall well-being.


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