Find Search

Other Information

Quest Vitamins LTD,
8 Venture Way,
Aston Science Park,
B7 4AP.

Tel: 0121 359 0056
Fax: 0121 359 0313
Registered in England No. 2530437

Bifidobacterium Longum

What is Probiotic Bacteria

Anaerobic Bacteria


Lactose Intolerance

Diarrhoea and Oral Supplements

The Role of Probiotics in Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Safety anc Consumption


What is Probiotic Bacteria

Probiotic bacteria such as bifidobacteria are now being introduced into many fermented food products and supplements. The consumption of fermented dairy products containing probiotics has increased in the past decades. Bifidobacteria have been a part of human nutrition for centuries, however in recent years they have been more closely studied for their potential to improve human health and treat disease.

Anaerobic Bacteria

Anaerobic bacteria (bacteria that can survive without oxygen) belonging to the Bifidobacterium species are beneficial for the well-being of the host both in infancy and in later years. It has been shown that bifidobacteria are the predominant \'friendly\' bacteria present in the colon of breast fed infants. Bifidobacterium longum is one of the major strains of friendly bacteria found in infants and consumption of fructooligosaccharides (FOS) can help to increase the population of bifidobacteria in the colon. FOS is found in many foods including bananas and most vegetables, wheat, onions and garlic and it is recommended that we consume at least 3 grams per day.

Babies are born axenic (sterile), and the colonisation of the digestive tract by population of microorganisms specific to each person is done in the first few days of life. The most significant changes in the intestinal flora take place from birth until weaning and again in the later stages of life.

In between, the microbial population of the dominant flora remains relatively stable and prevent potentially pathogenic bacteria from adhering to the intestinal wall. This has been termed \'the barrier effect\'.

However, the balance of bacteria in the digestive tract remains fragile and susceptible to lifestyle changes. Factors such as stress, change in diet and drug intake (antibiotics), can disturb this balance. Any imbalance can result in various disorders including bloating, intestinal pains, nutritional deficiencies and constipation. Also, a disruption of the barrier
effect will lead to a colonisation of the digestive system by pathogenic bacteria
which may result in intestinal disorders.

These disorders can be very severe, such as in the case of pseudomembraneous colitis (a serious type of diarrhoea) induced by the pathogenic bacteria Clostridium difficile due to the elimination of the barrier effect following a course of antibiotics. One of the most important characteristics for a probiotic bacterium is the ability to inhibit the growth of pathogens.


Bifidobacteria have potential probiotic activity that is generally related to inhibition of pathogens, maintenance and restoration of normal intestinal flora and an increased immune response. Supplemental Uses Immunity Research has shown that Bifidobacterium longum adheres to intestinal
cells causing a \'barrier effect\'.

This prevents pathogenic bacteria from sticking to the intestine a causing damage. (1) B.Longum has also been shown to increase the production of a compound released by immune cells called tumour
necrosis factor (TNF). This compound helps immune cells kill off bad bacteria.

Probiotic bacteria such as Bifidobacterium species are
effective in preventing and reducing the severity of acute diarrhoea in children.
They are also useful in antibiotic associated diarrhoea. In inflammatory bowel
disease, especially ulcerative colitis and urogenital infection, probiotics
offer a safe alternative to current therapy. (6)

Lactose Intolerance

Bifidobacterium longum has been shown to be useful for
the treatment of lactose intolerance. The study discovered that this bacterium
could digest lactose that was present in food. (2)

Probiotics, which include bifidobacterium longum, may
be helpful in malnutrition, particularly in lactose intolerance and calcium
absorption, and in constipation. Probiotics have been shown clearly to boost
immunity in the elderly. (5)


Oral supplements increase energy intake and promote weight
gain in acutely ill children receiving antibiotics; synbiotics may confer additional
benefits by increasing bifidobacteria levels. (3)

A number of studies have been carried out on the effect
of several probiotic species on treatment and prevention of intestinal infections.
The most commonly used microorganisms are lactic-acid producing bacteria such
as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria belonging to the human normal microflora.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

The role of probiotics in IBS has been well researched.
Some studies have shown improvements in pain and flatulence in response to probiotic
administration. It is thought that the most effective way of using probiotics
for IBS is as a preventative measure. (7)


B. longum is of human origin. Bifidobacterium longum
belongs to the G.R.A.S. list (Generally Recognized As Safe), established by
the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1987, for use as fermentation agents
in food products.

Moreover, B. longum has been widely consumed in dietary
supplements or drugs for more than 50 years, has not been identified in infections,
and there are no records of B. longum related side effects. B. longum produces
only L-lactic acid which is well tolerated even by children.

Contra-Indications and Interactions

Levels of Bifidobacteria decrease during administration
of antibiotics. Therefore supplementation should be considered during antibiotic
use, but antibiotics and probiotics should be taken at least two hours apart.


1. Dr M. Kostrzynska et al, Agriculture and Agri-Food
Canada, 2002

2. J Dairy Sci. 1996 May;79(5):750-7.

3. Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2004 Apr;43(3):239-49.

4. Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2002 Nov;20(5):313-9.

5. Postgrad Med J. 2004 Aug;80(946):447-51.

6. Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2002 Oct;15(5):501-6.

7. Br J Nutr. 2002 Sep;88 Suppl 1:S67-72.






Print this page