Ever visit the vitamin and supplement aisle at the drugstore and get just plain overwhelmed? If you’re wondering just how much of all that stuff you really need, you’re not alone. One supplement you've probably been hearing a lot about is probiotics. Sure, you may be familiar with the benefits, but it's hard to know which is the best probiotic for women. And as it turns out, these supps are not all created equal.
“Probiotics are critical for [gut] health, as they help create a happy ecosystem of bacteria in our intestines,” says Kylene Bogden, a registered dietitian and co-founder of FWDfuel. “The more balanced our ecosystem, the better our immunity and overall health.” FYI, probiotics function as good bacteria in your GI tract, breaking down foods and aiding digestion. They keep things moving and your system functioning as it should.
The wrong balance of bacteria in your system can lead to symptoms like fatigue, joint pain, bloating, and, ultimately. disease, according to Bogden. However, consuming probiotics in your diet through fermented foods just isn’t realistic for many people.
“While we ideally would all try to consume fermented foods each day, it is not the easiest task for most people,” she explains. “As a result, a daily probiotic that includes multiple strains can be very beneficial.”
If you’re wondering if a probiotic is right for you, it is best to work with a registered dietitian or physician who is well versed in gut health, Bogden says. They’ll be able to review your symptoms, medical history, and even perform advanced stool testing to help you decide if a probiotic is right for you, which probiotic in particular, and how often it should be consumed.
The following eight supplements contain the specific strains that comprise each probiotic directly address a specific need or health concern.
Meet the expert: Kylene Bogden, RDN, CSSD, specializes in sports nutrition and functional medicine. She is also board-certified in integrative and functional nutrition (IFNCP) through the Integrative and Functional Nutrition Academy. She has served as an expert source for various national media outlets and been invited to speak at events across the country.
“Generally speaking, without knowing someone’s medical history, one will want to choose a multi-strain probiotic with at least three to four different strains, though higher than five is excellent,” Bogden says. “Typically, we could recommend a bare minimum of 15 billion CFU.”
Bogden also advises people to be mindful of ingredients, as some probiotics include dairy, which many individuals with poor gut health and immune dysfunction won’t tolerate well.
“In terms of what is best for your needs, it is best to work with a qualified practitioner or begin to dig into the research yourself, as certain strains of bacteria have been proven to be better for certain conditions,” she says. “Take, for example, Bifidobacterium longum, which has been strongly associated with improving skin health.”