What's the Best Timing for Taking Probiotics with Antibiotics?

Taking probiotics along with antibiotics may be a good idea. But how important is the timing?

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
1-minute read


In a recent podcast, I weighed the evidence on the use of probiotic foods or supplements along with antibiotic medicines.  Can introducing friendly bacteria to your system help prevent side effects of antibiotic therapy or do the antibiotics just kill off the friendly bacteria as fast as you take them in? Although the evidence is a little blurry, it appears that taking probiotics during antiobitc therapy often helps and does no harm. 

But as Nutrition Diva fan Courtney points out, I left one burning question unanswered: Should you take both pills at the exact same time or space them out a bit? What's the best timing?

Unfortunately, the scientific literature has little to offer us here. Among the studies that have looked at the effects of probiotics with antibiotics, there is no standard protocol for the timing of the two. In fact, that might well explain why results differ so much from study to study. (Calling all researchers: can we please design a study to test whether the timing makes any difference?!)

Absent solid evidence, let's use common sense. Antibiotics kill bacteria. Probiotics are bacteria. Taking both at the exact same time could certainly undermine the survival odds of the beneficial bacteria.  Why not give them a fighting chance? If you can manage it logistically, take your probiotics or eat your probiotic-rich foods about two hours after you take your antibiotics. 

Have a burning nutrition question of your own? Send it to nutrition@quickanddirtytips.com and I'll try to tackle in a future podcast or newsletter. 

Granola bowl image courtesy of Shutterstock.

About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.