As research continues to suggest that different strains of probiotics may support different aspects of our health, more and more personalized supplements pop up on store shelves. Given the trillions of bacteria in our microbiome, though, it can be tricky to figure out which probiotic supplement is best for your needs.
“In general, gut health is important in that it plays a role in many different bodily functions,” says dietitian Kelly Jones M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., L.D.N. “These include digestion, immunity, vitamin and mineral absorption, hormone regulation, and mental health.”
The right probiotic can make a big difference—as long as you choose your strains and amounts carefully. Here’s how.
Identify Your Unique Issues
A balanced, diverse gut microbiome typically leads to overall better health. In an imbalanced microbiome (called dysbiosis), however, ‘bad’ microbes take over. Often, this leads to gastrointestinal and regulatory distress, Jones says.
One tell-tale sign that you need to up your gut game is constipation. “Many people experience constipation,” Jones says. “However, those who suffer from chronic constipation may benefit from probiotic supplementation.”
Or, you might find yourself on the other side of the gut distress spectrum: diarrhea. Probiotics may help here, too, Jones suggests.
“There are many different causes of diarrhea, but research shows that probiotic intake has been shown to combat the severity of diarrhea related to many different causes,” she says.
Other health concerns a probiotic may support: overall immunity, brain health, mood, energy, weight management, and more.
Target Your Needs
Once you know what health concerns you want to address, it’s time to choose the right probiotic.
Since different bacteria strains live in (and impact) different parts of the body, your supplement should contain strains that match your needs.
Additionally, consider how many CFU (colony forming units) a supplement contains. “Typical dosages vary based on the product,” says Jones. “But they typically range from 5 to 10 billion CFUs for children and 10 to 20 billion CFUs for adults.”
Since we all have different gut bacteria, start with a brand that contains many different probiotic strains. Supplements work differently for different people, depending on their individual microbiome. Be patient and you’ll find the variety that works best for you!
8 Probiotics To Try
If you’re ready to give more personalized probiotics a go but don’t know which to choose, start here:
For Women’s Health: Ora Organic Lady Bugs
Ora Organic Lady Bugs may be beneficial for women suffering from vaginal microbial imbalances. If vaginal health is a top priority, this is the product for you, Jones suggests.
“This product contains 5 billion CFUs of multiple strains,” says Jones. “It also has multiple strains of Lactobacilli, the dominant bacteria of the vaginal flora.”
For Immune Health: Ancient Nutrition Immune Probiotic
“The Immune Formula provides potency and diversity with 50 billion CFUs of a spectrum of ancient probiotic species, along with ancient Ayurvedic botanicals,” he says. While the blend of probiotic strains supports digestion, botanicals like olive leaf and fenugreek boost immunity.
For Weight Management: New Chapter Weight Management Probiotic
If you’re looking to maintain a healthy weight, Jones suggests New Chapter Weight Management Probiotic. It contains the prebiotic fibers inulin and artichoke root, which help feed your beneficial gut bacteria and support healthy digestion, weight, and immune health.
For Brain Health: Ancient Nutrition Brain Probiotic
If you need cognitive function and focus support, plus the added benefit of gut health, Axe suggests Ancient Nutrition’s Brain Probiotic, which provides 50 billion CFUs of probiotics and features ancient Ayurvedic botanicals.
Here, rosemary supports attentiveness and memory, while ashwagandha keeps the brain alert and energized.
For Skin Health: Ancient Nutrition Skin Probiotic
In addition to its 50 billion CFUs of probiotics, Ancient Nutrition’s Skin Probiotic also contains turmeric, which provides antioxidants that support a glowing complexion, says Axe.
Additionally, Indian Elecampane, an antioxidant that helps combat free radical damage that ages the skin, makes an appearance on the ingredient list.
For Mood Support: New Chapter Mood Support Probiotic
New Chapter’s Mood Support Probiotic contains 6 billion CFUs of a bacteria strain clinically studied for its mood benefits.
Plus, it provides the bonus of prebiotics inulin and artichoke root. These prebiotics can make probiotics more effective, Jones says.
For Gut Restoration: Ancient Nutrition Gut Restore Probiotic
Ancient Nutrition Gut Restore Probiotic includes the cleansing herb fenugreek to help promote healthy digestion and bowel movements, says Axe.
It also provides a healthy dose of ginger to ease gut distress.
For Energy: Megafood Energy Probiotic
Megafood’s Energy Probiotic includes a broad spectrum of health-supporting probiotics that specifically boost energy production and intestinal microflora. With 10 billion CFU of live bacteria, plus a proprietary combination of ancient peat and apple extracts for healthy energy production, it’s perfect for people who are always on the go.