Here is the quote from the e-mail I received:
“…Procter & Gamble is offering a deal where you can get $10 dollars back when you buy
$30 worth of any two or more of our GI (Gastrointestinal) brands…”, and later “…include in your post/review that Procter & Gamble is providing you with free samples of Align”.
Well, so far so good, right? I respect Procter & Gamble, a huge 170-years old company with tremendous resources. Plus, so heavily advertized Align probiotic has already caught my attention earlier.
Probitiotics are live, naturally-occurring microorganisms that promote healthy digestion, boost the immune system & contribute to general health & well-being. However, for people with impaired digestion choosing a right probiotic can be a confusing, choosing a wrong one can be dangerous.
Therefore, before jumping with both feet on such lucrative proposition, my professional reflex of clinically trained Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist has taken control. And, as I’ve been doing for the last 25 years with ALL the products I recommend to my patients and use myself, I’ve decided to go through a routine “nutritional ingredient analysis” of the product.
I have been somewhat surprised with the results of the analysis. Read for yourself.
Align Ingredients: Probiotic strain: Bifantis (Bifidobacterium infantis 35624), 1 x 109 colony-forming units (1 billion) (4 mg), microcrystalline cellulose (for even dispersal of cultures), hypromellose (vegetarian capsule shell),sugar, magnesium stearate (for even dispersal of cultures), milk protein, titanium dioxide, sodium citrate dihydrate, propyl gallate (antioxidant stabilizer), FD&C blue #1, riboflavin (colorant)
The Good News: Bifidobacterium infantis 35624
Align probiotic was developed by Procter & Gamble, a huge company with tremendous resources. They have been around for over 170 years.
Align was formulated with the Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 bacteria strain. In a 2009 review of scientific studies on IBS probiotic treatment, Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 showed significant improvement in the composite score for abdominal pain/discomfort, bloating/distention, and/or bowel movement difficulty. Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 has been shown to prevent invasion of the gut lining by one of the bacteria thought to be responsible for inflammatory bowel conditions such as IBS and reduced inflammation in the gut. (1)
The Bad News:
A properly designed probiotic is supposed to work with your body, not against it. For people with impaired digestion and sensitive gut even small doses of potentially dangerous additives and fillers can diminish positive effect of a good bacteria in any probiotic. Here is what have been added to the good bacteria in Align:
This is public enemy #1. Sugar suppresses the immune system and can cause gas and bloating in people with chronic yeast infections, IBS/IBD and Celiac disease. Marketing a ‘breakthrough’ probiotic containing sugar is backwards logic!
2) Magnesium Stearate
I learned during my visits to few supplement manufacturing facilities that magnesium stearate is used as a lubricating agent for equipment used in manufacturing capsules and other dietary supplements. Magnesium stearate ensures supplement production at a faster rate, and prevents the ingredients in capsules sticking to various parts of the machines used in manufacturing. Can supplement be manufactured without magnesium stearate? The answer is YES. But it will take longer time to manufacture the same product thereby making it more expensive. In addition, individuals with sensitive digestive system might have a problem with absorption of supplements containing magnesium stearate. (2)
Czap, AL. Townsend Letter For Doctors and Patients, July 1999, Vol.192;Pg. 117-119.
3) Titanium Dioxide
Over the years I have consumed a lot of nutritional supplements; therefore, after reading numerous nutritional labels I have realized that titanium dioxide powder is a popular ingredient used in supplement manufacturing. So, I wondered: “ What is Titanium Dioxide? Am I eating a metal”? According to European Commission Environment “titanium dioxide pigment is a white powder with high opacity and brilliant whiteness. These properties have made it a valuable pigment for a broad range of applications in paints, plastic good, inks and paper. Titanium dioxide is also used in many white products including food, cosmetics, UV skin protection”. So, vitamin manufacturing companies use this titanium dioxide powder to make our supplements to look white and pretty. There is no added health benefit for ingesting titanium dioxide except if you want to admire your supplement pill on your dinner plate. Furthermore, titanium dioxide has recently been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as an IARC Group 2B carcinogen ”possibly carcinogen to humans’’ when inhaled. I think, we can do just fine without eating titanium dioxide. (3)
4) Propyl Gallate
This is a preservative used to prevent fats and oils from spoiling. It has been classified as a “xenoestrogen” — a substance with estrogen-like effects that is stirring international health concerns. “Xenoestrogens have been linked to a range of human health effects, including reduced sperm counts in men and increased risk of breast cancer in women”. (4)
5) Artificial Color FD&C Blue #1
FD &C Blue #1 is so toxic that FDA (Food and Drug Administration) have issued a warning to healthcare professionals about its toxicity including death in patients receiving enteral feeding (introduction of liquid food through a tube inserted into intestine. (5)
Why would P&G add such a toxic coloring to its probiotic remains a mystery to me.
In my opinion, Align is somewhat missing the mark, and especially so for people with impaired digestion and GI problems. The potentially harmful additives and fillers included in the product could produce negative effect. That is probably why there are over twenty comments/posts on the Amazon site talk about negative effects of Align for some people.
On a positive note, the good bacteria of Align does work in your gut, provided you are not sensitive to the coloring and the fillers. Also, P&G have done a really good job in manufacturing their products from 100% recyclable materials.
As always, I am just delivering the message. To take or not to take Align is ultimately YOUR choice.
Best of Health,
1. Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 in IBS
2. Magnesium Stearate
Czap, AL. Townsend Letter For Doctors and Patients, July 1999, Vol.192;Pg. 117-119
3. Titanium Dioxide
4. Propyl Gallate
5. FD&C Blue #1 FDA – Public Health Advisory