Scientists have been aware of the health benefits of probiotics for decades. But yogurt isn’t the only probiotic-friendly source anymore – the “ggod bugs” in yogurt can now also be found in soup, cereal, energy bars and other food products, as well as in a variety of supplements available at your pharmacy.

So, with so many different products and probiotic strains, how do you decide which is the right kind of probiotic for your specific health goals? Here’s a basic overview to help you choose.

The “Immunity-Boosting” Probiotic

According to lab studies, there are a variety of probiotics which produce positive effects for the immune system. However, only a handful of strains, such as L. acidophilus NCFM, L. rhamnosus GG and L. casei DN-114001 appear effective in reducing the frequency and severity of the common cold. In studies, L. acidophilus NFCM reduced coughing in preschoolers by 42%, the incident of fevers by 48%, and cut antibiotic need by 68%, while in patients over 60, daily supplementation with L. casei DN-114001 reduced the severity of respiratory infections by 20% and cut one and a half days off the duration. Researchers think similar benefits may be enjoyed by all age groups.

The “Anti-Antibiotic” Probiotic

When your body is healthy, your skin, intestines, genital tract, mouth and even skin are colonized by trillions of bacteria which fight against invasion from disease-causing microbes. Antibiotic use can upset that balance, leaving pathogens a window of opportunity to get their foot in the door.

Taking antibiotics can cause painful antibiotic-related diarrhea, but taking a supplement which contains the probiotic strains S. cerevisiae boulardii and Bacillus coagulans, such as Strengtia Probiotics, can reduce the risk of infection during a course of antibiotics and shortly afterward.

The “Female Friendly” Probiotic

No matter the level of your hygiene, pathogens can enter your urinary tract or vagina. While the normal bacteria in a healthy vagina repeals those microbes, the use of douches, spermicides and antibiotics can reduce protective bacteria levels. Daily supplementation with L. rhamnosus GR-1 and L. reuteri RC-14 capsules have been shown to give the boot to the bugs that cause urinary infections, bacterial vaginosis and candida; studies showed these strains were more effective than treatment with the standard prescription metronidazole gel.

While many probiotic products make sweeping health claims, all probiotics aren’t all created equal. For example, Saccharomyces cerevisiae boulardii can eliminate diarrhea, but doesn’t do a thing for eczema. Before you choose a probiotic supplement, do some research to ensure the probiotic strains are a good match for your specific health need.