How to formulate the new biotic products

Biotics provide unique health benefits that can differentiate your brand and attract a broader range of health-focused consumers.

Shakeela Hashmi, R&D Manager

April 22, 2024

6 Min Read

At a Glance

  • Biotics are innovating into new health pathways.
  • Sports, nutricosmetics, women's health to start.
  • Combination ingredients can be a blessing or a curse. Formulate carefully!

Today’s biotic products are not only for brands in the traditional digestive health space, but also for brands in other categories outside the market looking for ways to innovate and expand their product lines. 

Prebiotics (nondigestible fibers that help these bacteria grow), probiotics (helpful gut bacteria), postbiotics (a byproduct of probiotic/prebiotic activity) and synbiotics (the specialized combination of pre- and probiotics) have all been shown to aid in enhancing and supporting a healthier gut. 

Through the gut’s link to so many other bodily systems, biotics are a natural choice for growing brands to consider adding into their supplement formulations to enhance and expand their product offerings not just to traditional gut health and immunity, but everything from the brain to blood sugar, and cardiovascular support to sleep

New health targets 

The inclusion of biotics and their unique health benefits can help brands gain an edge within their individual category and broaden their reach to capture a wider audience of consumers looking for ways to enhance their health more holistically. 

A number of categories outside of the digestive health space are well suited for brands to explore crossover innovation by adding biotics to their formulations. The following examples show how probiotics might positively impact some key categories within the nutritional supplement space. 

Related:Biotics for life! – digital magazine

Sports and fitness – Probiotics have been shown to aid in faster muscle recovery, inflammation reduction and helping to support and modulate the immune system. Certain probiotics can also help with production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), influencing muscle protein synthesis (MPS) and therefore benefitting overall muscle health. Additionally, studies by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) support the use of probiotics to improve aerobic capacity and sports performance. 

Beauty and nutricosmetics Probiotics can help alleviate skin conditions like acne and eczema and also support the skin’s natural function by promoting hydration and preventing moisture loss. The beneficial bacteria of probiotics can also contribute to a balanced microbiome which, in turn, promotes better skin health

Studies evaluating the anti-aging effects of oral and topical applications of probiotics show a reduction in oxidative stress, thereby reducing skin photoaging, as well as an inhibition of inflammatory response. Certain strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium can also support collagen synthesis by stimulating the body’s production of collagen. As probiotics may help improve overall bioavailability of nutrients, they also improve availability of nutrients required for collagen production. 

Related:Go with the gut: Products for microbiome balance link to overall health – product development guide

Women’s health – Probiotic strains L. rhamnosus and L. acidophilus help to maintain healthy vaginal pH and microbiota, and can also aid in balancing vaginal yeast and bacteria, which is important for women overall as well as expectant mothers. Additionally, for pregnant women, probiotics can be beneficial in maintaining healthy glucose levels assisting with immune support. 

Studies have shown that certain strains of probiotics (Lacticaseibacillus paracasei) can exhibit adaptogen-like effects, helping the body adapt to stress. This could prove to be an innovative area where probiotics can be utilized in applications targeting women’s mental health and well-being through mood enhancement as well as post-partum mental support. 

Probiotics also aid the absorption of calcium and other minerals to support bone health, which can be considered for supplement formulations targeting aging women. 

Complementary ingredients 

When supplement brands contemplate expanding their product lines or introducing new products focused on probiotics, incorporating certain key ingredients can be instrumental in creating innovative formulations. 

Related:Prebiotics make probiotics better

Fiber: Because of the excellent digestive health support properties of probiotics, integrating them with fiber in a supplement formula could be advantageous across a range of dosage forms. 

Antioxidants: Combining probiotics with antioxidants such as zinc and vitamins C and D can yield beneficial formulations ranging skin care to beauty supplements. Another interesting antioxidant to explore adding to a probiotic formulation is selenium. In addition to the potential skin care benefits, these product development innovations may also tap into the immune-support properties of powerful antioxidants. 

Fish oils: The anti-inflammatory properties of fish oils combined with those same benefits in probiotics is another interesting formulation approach to explore for an enhanced impact

Other vital considerations 

Although probiotics can be mixed with various dietary supplement ingredients, certain combinations can conversely diminish effectiveness. These detrimental combinations encompass genetically modified raw materials; ingredients containing gluten, sugar, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, animal protein, polyethylene glycol, propylene glycol or wheat flour; powder formulations containing strong acids or bases; and ingredients contaminated with heavy metals. It is crucial to meticulously regulate and consider consumption levels when dealing with supplements containing probiotics. 

From a manufacturing standpoint, it is important for brands to recognize the significance of selecting the right facility for producing probiotic supplements. Ensuring the facility has suitable humidity and temperature-controlled storage conditions — along with the necessary equipment and quality control (QC) measures for processing probiotics — is paramount to preserving the viability of these microorganisms. Equally important is having a well-trained staff that understands how to handle these sensitive ingredients properly throughout the manufacturing process. 

Onsite sampling and testing capabilities constitute another critical aspect of the manufacturing process for probiotic supplements. This involves performing stability studies to guarantee the viability of probiotics in the products sold to consumers by brands. Manufacturers must not only generate samples for their clients, but also possess the capability, resources and facility environment to scale-up the production of probiotic products in larger quantities. 

Ensuring the quality of the finished product is also vital for probiotics due to their sensitivity to temperature and humidity. In September 2018, FDA issued draft guidance on quantitative labeling, and the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) released best practices guidelines for probiotics, suggesting the inclusion of the live quantity of microorganisms at the end of the shelf life. The International Probiotics Association (IPA) has outlined specific guidelines covering facility requirements, receiving, inspection and sampling, testing, storage, manufacturing and packaging for probiotics. These guidelines serve as a valuable reference for contract manufacturers aiming to expand into the probiotics space. 

Outlook for new biotic products 

As product development continues to evolve in the biotic space, the increased use of postbiotics in formulation is an area of anticipated growth not previously seen in the dietary supplement industry. 

Postbiotics are produced during fermentation from prebiotics and are byproducts of probiotics. Some initial postbiotic benefits being studied include anti-inflammation and immunity support; however, further research is needed. It will be interesting to see which supplement applications for postbiotics are on the horizon. 

As with other supplement categories, when it comes to biotics, increased transparency, clean label, organic and natural sources of ingredients are also areas in which we expect additional advancement within the industry to meet the growing demands of consumers. 

Looking ahead in the space, in the delivery systems side of biotic supplements, technologies like microencapsulation and capsules within capsules — with suspended and delayed-release capabilities — will be other innovative areas of interest. 

About the Author(s)

Shakeela Hashmi

R&D Manager, Lief Labs

With more than two decades of experience working in the dietary supplement industry, Shakeela Hashmi is the R&D manager at Lief Labs. She supports powder and capsule new product development. Based in Valencia, California, the company is a formulation and product development innovator and manufacturer of dietary supplements. 

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