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If you're like many busy Americans, you may feel the need for an extra boost of energy to stay focused and perform at your best throughout the day. Whether you experience the age-old 3 p.m. slump at your desk or you need an extra jolt to power through a morning workout, you may be looking for healthy energy drinks and coffees.

Caffeine happens to be the most-consumed energy booster in the world. From coffee to tea to chocolate, about 90% of Americans consume caffeine in some form every day. And increasingly, people are turning to energy drinks to satisfy their energy needs.

Energy drink consumption is especially high among young adults. In a 2016 survey, over one-third of 18- to 29-year-old respondents said they consumed energy drinks on a regular basis.

There are dozens of energy and sports drink companies out there to meet this growing demand for a regular energy boost. From flashy cans packed with bold flavors to all-natural alternatives, it can be difficult to cut through the noise and choose the right healthy energy drink for you.

That's why we're reviewing the top healthy energy drinks and coffees that will give you a moderate level of caffeine without added sugars and artificial ingredients.

Our Picks for the Best Healthy Energy Drinks and Coffees

Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

The Downside of Mainstream Energy Drinks

Step into most gas stations, and you'll find a fantastically colorful, shiny, and attention-grabbing display of canned energy drinks slapped with powerful names like "Rockstar" and "Red Bull." But often, hidden behind the neon graffiti-scribbled cans are ingredients best avoided for the sake of your health.

Most mainstream energy drinks are packed with high amounts of caffeine as well as heaps of sugar and other undesirable ingredients. According to the Mayo Clinic, adults should aim to consume no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine a day.

To put that into perspective, a 1-ounce shot of espresso contains about 64 milligrams of caffeine. A regular cup of coffee has about 70 to 100 milligrams. Some energy shots contain more than 400 milligrams of caffeine in a single serving.

Overdoing your caffeine intake can have negative impacts on your health. The extent to which you experience side effects will depend on your tolerance for the drug, your age, and your genes. Signs of too much caffeine include headaches, anxiety, an elevated heart rate, muscle jitters, irritability, and frequent urination.

Added sugar is another common unhealthy ingredient in mainstream energy drinks. The American Heart Association recommends that adult men consume no more than 36 grams of sugar per day and women consume no more than 25 grams. However, a single serving of many mainstream energy drinks can easily contain 27 or more grams of added sugars per serving.

Studies show that consuming excess added sugars (those that aren't naturally occurring in fruits and vegetables) can have serious health implications. For most Americans, these added sugars come from flavored drinks, cereals, baked goods, and other processed foods, including energy drinks.

All of this sugar adds up to an increased risk for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. In one 15-year Harvard study, participants who consumed 17-21% of their daily calories from added sugars increased their risk of death from cardiovascular disease by 38% compared to individuals who consumed 8% of their calories from added sugar.

Obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease are all leading causes of death in the U.S. By choosing no- to low-sugar healthy energy drinks without large amounts of caffeine, you can reduce your intake of added sugars and avoid overdoing your caffeine intake.

What to Look for In a "Healthy" Energy Drink

So how can you be sure your daily pick-me-up is a healthier option that will still sustain your energy levels? Start by reviewing the caffeine and sugar content. Many natural energy drinks on the market are sugar-free and made with natural caffeine sources. For example, matcha green tea is an herbal source of caffeine that has other nutritional benefits for overall wellness like antioxidants.

In addition to the caffeine and sugar content, many healthy energy drinks are fortified with essential nutrients that have positive health effects. You may get the added benefit of antioxidants from black tea, for example.

As always, be sure to read the label of any energy drink carefully and with an eye on added sugars, preservatives, and other artificial ingredients. And remember that caffeine is a natural diuretic, so it's important to watch your hydration and drink plenty of water.

Best Healthy Energy Drinks and Coffees

Best Coffee Alternative: MUD/WTR

MUD/WTR Mushroom Coffee

mudwtr.com

MUD/WTR is an all-natural alternative to coffee designed to provide a more balanced and nutritional morning routine. It's made from a blend of masala chai and cacao and an all-star lineup of nutrient-rich mushrooms, including Lion's Mane, Reishi, Cordyceps, and Chaga, as well as turmeric, cinnamon, and Himalayan salt. Packed with immune-boosting antioxidants, but with a fraction of the caffeine in coffee, MUD/WTR can help help supercharge your day without the jitters.

Strength: 1/7 of the caffeine in a cup of coffee

Why buy: 100% USDA-organic; Non-GMO; Vegan; Gluten-free; Whole-30; Kosher; Mushrooms grown in the USA

Best Mushroom Coffee: Four Sigmatic Ground Mushroom Coffee

foursigmatic.com

Four Sigmatic offers a variety of organic plant-based drinks and supplements, but their ground mushroom coffee is one of their most popular. It's made with Fair Trade organic coffee beans and organic Lion's Mane and Chaga mushrooms. This allows you to enjoy all the benefits of coffee without the mid-afternoon crash. They also offer a full money-back guarantee so you can try it for yourself risk-free. Four Sigmatic also has a membership subscription service for 20% off all orders.

Strength: Equivalent to a regular 12 oz. brewed coffee

Why buy: Organic, Fair Trade certified, single origin Arabica coffee beans; Organic, sustainably wildcrafted mushrooms

Best Flavor Energy Drink: Sambazon Organic Amazon Energy Drink

We love that Sambazon Organic Amazon Energy Drinks are both low in calories and sugar (with only 6 grams per serving) while providing other important vitamins. The green tea and yerba mate that give each can its 120 milligrams of caffeine come with potent antioxidants and vitamin C. This is another slightly more caffeinated option if you're looking for a stronger jolt from your healthy energy drink without the excess sugars and artificial ingredients you'll find in mainstream high-caffeine options. With fruity Amazon-inspired flavors like acai berry and pomegranate, Sambazon ensures every sip is delicious and refreshing.

Strength: 120mg per can

Why buy: Made with guarana, yerba mate and green tea; USDA-Certified Organic; Non-GMO; Vegan; Gluten-free; Kosher

Best Low-Calorie Energy Drink: Sunshine Good Energy Drink

This brightly colored can is not only enticing, but it's also good for you. Sunshine Good Energy Drinks have a moderate amount of caffeine (about the same amount as a cup of coffee) for a light buzz that won't cause a crash. This low-calorie option (60 calories per can) is especially great for plant-based diets, which can often lack essential B vitamins, especially vitamin B12. These healthy energy drinks are fortified with B12, and the clementine flavor also offers 100% of your daily Vitamin C requirements.

Strength: 70mg caffeine per can

Why buy: Made with organic green coffee beans; Added B12; Contains electrolytes; 100% of your daily Vitamin C

Best Low-Sugar Energy Drink: GURU Lite Organic Low Sugar Energy Drink

GURU's Lite Energy drink is brewed with antioxidant-packed green tea and hydrating carbonated water. This vegan energy drink includes the added bonus of natural sweeteners and vitamin sources. Every can is made with ginseng, echinacea, guarana, and sweetened with stevia and monk fruit for a lightly sweet, nutrient-packed sip. Plus, GURU has an environmentally friendly commitment to using natural, organic ingredients in this low-sugar, caffeinated energy drink.

Strength: 100mg caffeine per can

Why buy: Non-GMO; Vegan; No artificial sweeteners; Organic

Best for Giving Back: Raspberry Sparkling Yerba Mate

Last on our list of best healthy energy drinks is the Clean Clause Sparkling Yerba Mate. Clean Cause donates 50% of its profits from sales of this USDA Certified Organic energy drink to support addiction recovery. The company's mission is to support recovery from alcohol and drug addiction through sustainable funding. Clean Cause brews its energy drinks from the dried leaves of yerba mate, a vitamin-rich South American plant that is naturally high in caffeine and antioxidants. Every serving offers plant-based polyphenols, a group of antioxidants shown to reduce inflammation and reduce the risk of many chronic diseases.

Strength: 160mg per can (two servings)

Why buy: USDA Certified Organic; Natural caffeine from yerba mate; Four fruity, sparkling flavors

Best CBD Coffee: Sträva CBD-Infused Coffee

Strava Craft CBD Coffee

stravacraftcoffee.com

Sträva Craft Coffee makes a premium CBD-infused coffee that combines specialty-grade, hand-roasted Columbian coffee beans with broad spectrum CBD. It makes for a drink that provides alertness and focus while also supporting natural wellness and calm. Their coffee beans are all ethically-sourced and their CBD is sourced from organic USA-grown hemp that undergoes independent third-party testing. This coffee is a delicious way to introduce CBD into your routine.

Strength: 10mg broad spectrum CBD per serving

Why buy: Organic, ethically-sourced coffee beans from Columbia; CBD distilled from organic American-grown hemp

Lizzy Briskin is the founder of Earthen Food Co. She is a chef, food writer, and recipe developer who helps people eat more mindfully for themselves and the environment, without overthinking it.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

Protein powders aren't just for bodybuilders—the human body needs protein to build muscle and perform basic metabolic functions, and many adults don't consume enough. If you eat a vegan diet, you may be searching for the best plant-based protein powder available.

Plant protein supplements are dried, powdered forms of protein that come from a variety of sources. They are often made from soy, rice, hemp, and peas, where other protein powders are derived from eggs or milk protein, such as whey or casein. Choosing the best plant-based protein powder for you depends on your lifestyle, dietary preferences, and taste buds. Here are our favorite vegan protein powder options.

Why Choose a Plant-Based Protein Powder?

There are several reasons to add a plant-based protein powder to your daily diet. They help support a healthy body composition as well as overall wellness, especially when paired with supplements to boost your immune system. If you're looking to lose weight or gain muscle, a vegan protein powder can help. Depending on the brand and source you choose, these products can range from 10 grams of protein to upwards of 30 or 40 grams per serving.

When it comes to weight loss, a high-protein diet can help you feel fuller longer. This means you're less likely to make unhealthy food choices or reach for snacks throughout the day. One scientific review study on overweight and obese patients suggests that supplementing with protein improved patients' overall body composition and reduced risks associated with cardiovascular disease. Taking probiotic supplements or digestive enzymes can also help you get more nutrients from the foods you eat and lose weight.

On the muscle growth side of things, a second review study demonstrates a link between protein intake and increased muscle mass in weightlifters.

Yet gaining strength isn't the only reason to enjoy a protein shake post-workout. Your fatigued muscles need protein to recover and rebuild after strenuous exercise. By feeding your body protein shortly after a workout, you may speed muscle recovery, reduce soreness, and increase the overall effectiveness of your workout.

On top of their nutritional benefits, plant-based protein powders, and plant-based diets in general, are better for the environment. Plant-based products typically take less energy and produce fewer emissions than animal-derived products and foods.

Our Favorite Vegan Protein Powder

Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Different Types of Protein Powder

There are several common types of protein powder on the market. These are the sources you're most likely to encounter, including two that are dairy-based while the rest are plant-based protein powder.

  • Hemp: Hemp is a complete plant protein source, which means it includes all nine amino acids that your body needs, but cannot make on its own. Hemp protein is also soy-free, so it's a great choice for anyone with a soy allergy.
  • Soy: Soy is a go-to protein source for anyone avoiding dairy. Like hemp, soy is also a complete protein.
  • Pea: Pea protein is usually included in a blend with other plant-based protein sources. That's because peas offer plenty of one important amino acid, arginine, but not enough of the remaining eight essential amino acids.
  • Whey: Whey protein concentrate is probably the most common protein source on the market. Whey is a complete protein derived from milk that is readily absorbed by the body. Like most dairy products, all whey protein is not created equally. When shopping for a whey powder, look for one made with milk from grass-fed cows.
  • Casein: Another dairy-based option, casein protein powder is more slowly digested than whey. It also contains a high concentration of glutamine, an amino acid linked to speedier muscle recovery. Casein is a good option for nighttime exercisers to enjoy after a workout.

In this article, we're looking only at the best plant-based protein powder varieties.

How We Choose the Best Plant Protein

With a plethora of available plant proteins, it can be overwhelming to choose a plant protein that's right for you. We made a list of the factors that we used to evaluate each plant-based protein brand.

Type of Protein — What kind of plant is the protein derived from? How much protein per serving does it have?

Ingredients — Does the protein powder contain artificial flavors or sweeteners?

Lab-testing — We choose brands that have their products third-party tested to guarantee the purity of the ingredients.

Value — How much does the powder cost? How many servings are in each container?

Our Favorite Plant-Based Protein Powders

Best Tasting: ALOHA Organic Vanilla Protein Powder

ALOHA Organic Vanilla Protein Powder Vegan

aloha.com

  • Protein type - Pea protein, brown rice, hemp seed, and pumpkin seed proteins
  • Protein amount - 18 g per serving

Why buy: We like that ALOHA plant-based protein powder features top-notch ingredients and is USDA organic, non-GMO, and certified vegan. It's also gluten, dairy, and soy-free with no added sweeteners like Stevia. This product includes pea protein, brown rice protein, pumpkin seed protein, and hemp seed protein sources. Plus, ALOHA is a certified B-Corp.

Best for Digestion: Sunwarrior Warrior Blend Organic

Sunwarrior Warrior Blend Organic for Vegans

sunwarrior.com

  • Protein type - Pea, organic hemp seed, and organic Goji berry proteins
  • Protein amount - 24 g per serving

Why buy: Sunwarrior's plant-based protein comes in five different flavors, so there's a great-tasting option for everyone. The blend offers a complete amino acid profile and is made to be more bio-available making it easy to digest, plus keto and paleo-friendly, with fewer allergens than whey. We also love that it's completely vegan and comes in a recyclable container.

Best Metabolism Booster: Your Super Organic Superfood Protein Mix

Your Super Plant Protein Organic Supers

yoursuper.com

  • Protein type - Organic rice and pea protein
  • Protein amount - 9 g per serving

Why buy: Your Super makes a gluten, soy and dairy-free, non-GMO, and certified USDA organic plant protein that is a great option for those who want a metabolism booster. The simple, yet effective blend only uses five ingredients, including pea protein, rice protein, banana, maca, and lucuma. We love that Your Super also makes sure to source its ingredients sustainably.

Best for Muscle Growth: Onnit Plant-Based Protein

Onnit Vegan Plant Based Protein Tubs

onnit.com

  • Protein type - Pea, pumpkin, sunflower and watermelon seed proteins
  • Protein amount - 20 g per serving
Why buy: Onnit's plant protein powders use a branched-chain amino acid (BCAA), which is the most essential amino acid for muscle growth. The vegan blend is sugar, dairy, gluten, and soy-free, and offers a complete amino acid profile. We like that it comes in both vanilla and chocolate flavors, providing a more earth-friendly post-workout protein option.

Best for Keto Diets: NOW Sports Organic Pea Protein

NOW Sports Organic Vegan Pea Protein

nowfoods.com

  • Protein type - Pea protein
  • Protein amount - 15 g per serving

Why buy: Pea protein is a good post-workout choice, and NOW Sports Organic Pea Protein powder offers 15 grams of vegetable protein isolate that is easy to digest. There are no artificial sweeteners, and it's dairy, egg, soy and gluten-free. We like that this blend is certified USDA organic, keto-friendly, and GMP certified with testing results available online for every batch of protein.

How to Choose a High-Quality Plant-Based Protein Powder

When shopping for the best plant protein powder, there are some important things to take into consideration.

Start with your diet and taste preferences. There are plenty of vegan, gluten-free and soy-free protein products out there. If you have allergies, food sensitivities or a strong preference, start by narrowing your search there.

Secondly, consider the amount of protein you want, or need, to add to your diet. To find your personal Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of protein, multiply your body weight in pounds by 0.36. For example, that's 54 grams of protein per day for the average 180-pound male and 50 grams for the average 140-pound female.

That being said, athletes will have higher protein needs. If your diet is already rich in protein from meat, seafood, or plant-based foods, then a lower-strength protein powder might be sufficient for you.

On the other hand, if you're highly active and don't consume a high-protein diet, a powder that supplies 20 or 25 grams of protein can help you meet your RDA.

Finally, take a close look at the particulars of the powder itself. Many protein powders contain added sugars, fillers, and other unnecessary ingredients. Check the ingredient list. A short list that includes the main protein source at the top is a good sign.

What to Look For

Below are a few key attributes to look for when choosing a plant-based protein.

Many of these factors are personal preferences, but it's important to consider what plant-based protein powder will most benefit your needs and wants.

Natural Ingredients

The specific protein used is an important part of the ingredient list but it's important to consider what else is included in the formula. Make sure there are no extraneous fillers or artificial flavors or ingredients. Some protein powders also add in extra sugar, healthier proteins don't use extra sugar or artificial sweeteners.

Amount of Protein

Some proteins will list the amount of protein per container, while others list the amount per serving. The amount of protein you consume on a daily basis depends on your activity, size, and gender.

Type of Protein

There are many types of plant-based proteins out there. Some brands make their proteins from just one plant-based protein, while others use a blend of many different proteins.

How to Read Labels

It's important to read the label on everything we consume — including plant-based protein powders. Specifically, look into these elements:

  • Certified Vegan: Make sure to check the label and nutritional information to see if it is 100% vegan. Most brands will include a symbol on the label to tell you.
  • Ingredient List: Avoid supplements that include ingredients that are common allergens. It's also important to look at how and where the protein is sourced. Look to see if the plant-based protein includes any additives, including sugar or artificial flavors.
  • Amino Acid Profile: Plant-based protein powders that combine multiple sources of protein often offer a complete amino acid profile, meaning they contain all of the different types of proteins your body needs in one supplement.
  • Amount: Reference the label to see how much protein is in each serving, as well as any additional nutritional information.
  • Suggested Use: Some plant proteins are better before or after workouts. Many brands point out the suggested use of their product.

How to Use Plant Protein

Plant-based protein powders have a wide variety of uses: from people who are looking to supplement their diet to those who need it because of their high exercise regimen. People often use protein powders to increase muscle mass or for healthy weight gain. Plant-based protein powders are an especially great option for vegans or vegetarians to help them get their daily protein.

Most plant powders can be scooped into a glass of water or milk. Some people choose to add their protein powder to smoothies, or they bake with it. Protein powders are versatile and it's up to you on how you want to consume them.

Safety and Side Effects

Researchers say that the average person should have 0.73 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day.

You should not exceed 2.3 grams of protein per pound per day because it can cause side effects such as:

  • Ammonia in the blood
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
Always check to make sure you are not allergic to any of the ingredients in any dietary supplement before taking them. If you have any questions or concerns about plant-based protein powders, check with your doctor first.

Takeaway

Plant-based protein powders are a great alternative to animal protein for those who are vegan, vegetarian or are just looking to reduce the number of animal products they consume.

They come in a variety of flavors, and can easily be added to smoothies, milk, water, or even be implemented in more creative ways such as stirring it into oatmeal or baking with the protein.

From super active people to people who just need more protein in their diets, plant-based protein powders are a great option.

Lizzy Briskin is the founder of Earthen Food Co. She is a chef, food writer, and recipe developer who helps people eat more mindfully for themselves and the environment, without overthinking it.

9 Best Solar Companies in Maryland in 2022

We'll help you narrow down the best installer for your home.

Reviews
The Washington Post / Contributor / Getty Images

Looking for energy freedom in the Free State? There are plenty of installers to choose from, but in this article, we’ll help you narrow down your options by recommending nine of the best solar companies in Maryland.

On track to increase its Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) target from 25% to 50% by 2030, Maryland has quadrupled its solar capacity since 2015. One of the biggest drivers of this has been its statewide programs that support residential, commercial and community solar projects. Maryland residents also have access to some of the best solar companies in the nation, offering exceptional value for generating clean energy.

For many readers, the decision of which solar installer to hire comes down to cost. To start getting free quotes from the best solar companies in Maryland, you can use this tool or fill out the form below.

Our Picks for Top Maryland Solar Installers

  1. Lumina Solar
  2. Solar Energy World
  3. SunPower
  4. Celestial Solar Innovations
  5. Edge Energy
  6. Trinity Solar
  7. American Sentry Solar
  8. Energy Select
  9. Maryland Solar Solutions

Comparing the 10 Best Solar Companies in Maryland

Lumina Solar

Lumina Solar logo

Lumina Solar

Location: Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia; Based in Baltimore

What We Like: Lumina Solar offers fully integrated solar technology to help its customers make a practical leap to new levels of energy efficiency, conservation and independence. Lumina’s solar panel systems are built with cutting-edge technology, and the company was the first in the state to offer Tesla Powerwall batteries. Though a young company, the team is made up of industry veterans sure to provide an aesthetically pleasing, reliable installation.

What We Don’t Like: Lumina Solar is only a 4-year-old company, albeit an impressive one. Given that warranties are only valid if your chosen company stays in business, we typically advise choosing companies with closer to 10 years of experience and that have a proven, sustainable business model.

What Customers Are Saying: “Lumina installed my solar system a couple of months ago, and I want everyone to know how fantastic this company is. I urge anyone looking to make the switch to call Lumina Solar. From the very beginning of researching solar companies, I was most impressed with customer reviews and they were absolutely right.” — Marsha via Better Business Bureau (BBB)

Lumina Solar at a Glance:

Solar Energy World

Solar Energy World logo

Solar Energy World

Location: State of Maryland; Based in Elkridge

What We Like: Solar Energy World’s excellent industry reputation across the East Coast continues to shine each year, making it one of the fastest-growing independently owned and operated solar companies in the region. In fact, Solar Energy World has ranked as the No. 1 residential solar installer by volume in Maryland five years running. Installing Silfab, Longi, Q Cells and REC solar panels (which are some of the best available), Solar Energy World offers high-quality technology backed by a simple and tested process.

What We Don’t Like: Relative to some competitors on this list, Solar Energy World’s size can cause lapses in organizational presence and individualized attention. Those seeking a highly personalized, hands-on experience may be better off with a smaller company.

What Customers Are Saying: “Every step of the entire process was great — a low-pressure and knowledgeable consultation, a realistic and well-priced estimate (that turned out to match the design exactly), all steps in the process happened on or before schedule, the installation was quick and easy and neat (with cleanup), county inspection and all of the after-sale steps were taken care of quickly.” — Daniel via BBB

Solar Energy World at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 2009
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, backup battery installations, live energy monitoring
  • Warranty: Product-specific warranties ranging from 20-25 years
  • Financing Options: Cash payments, solar loans

SunPower

SunPower logo

SunPower

Location: State of Maryland

What We Like: SunPower has been an industry leader since 1985, manufacturing some of the best solar panels on the market. With nationwide service, SunPower can connect you with a certified dealer near your home or business to conduct the installation. SunPower's reputation for excellent customer care and all-in-one solar solutions earns it a high spot on our list of the best Maryland solar installers.

What We Don’t Like: SunPower is a national company, working with local dealers in Maryland to install its systems. As a result, the quality of your workmanship will be fairly dependent on the SunPower dealer nearest you.

What Customers Are Saying: “Very knowledgeable, professional and easy to work with. I was pleasantly surprised that the entire staff has been very helpful and not "pushy" like other solar companies.” — Scott via BBB

SunPower at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 1985
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, backup battery and electric vehicle charger installations
  • Warranty: 25-year all-inclusive warranty
  • Financing Options: Cash payments, solar loans, solar leases
  • Learn More: SunPower Review

Celestial Solar Innovations

Celestial Solar Innovations logo

Celestial Solar Innovations

Location: Northwest Maryland; Based in Frederick

What We Like: A local company with a passion for solar and exceptional service, Celestial Solar Innovations offers flexible solar financing options and knows the ins and outs of Maryland policies to ensure its customers receive the best possible value for their investment in solar power. Its strong Maryland roots make homeowners feel their experience is valued over profits, and stellar customer reviews back this sentiment.

What We Don’t Like: Celestial Solar Innovations only offers services in a small region of Northwest Maryland. This can be advantageous to customers in the area, as it means they receive more attention for their projects, but the majority of Maryland will be left outside Celestial Solar Innovations’ service area.

What Customers Are Saying: “Celestial Solar was a joy to work with. We had numerous estimates before meeting with Jim and CSI. They delivered on every promise. Not a hiccup. The system they installed works very well and is delivering in excess of 100% power. Each month, in addition to a zero-dollar power bill, there is an overage that we are now selling each month as SRECs (they set that up as well).” — Nate via Google Reviews

Celestial Solar Innovations at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 2013
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, backup battery installations
  • Warranty: Product-specific warranties
  • Financing Options: Cash payments, solar loans

Edge Energy

Edge Energy logo

Edge Energy

Location: State of Maryland; Based in Beltsville

What We Like: A certified master dealer of SunPower solar panels in Maryland, you can trust that Edge Energy installs some of the highest-quality solar technology on the market. Add a comprehensive service range that includes energy solutions, audits and upgrades, and it’s no surprise Edge Energy consistently ranks as one of the best solar companies in Maryland.

What We Don’t Like: SunPower’s solar panels are some of the best in the business, especially when it comes to efficiency. However, this lone offering can be limiting to customers who may not need the most efficient solar panels or who are interested in purchasing a different brand of products.

What Customers Are Saying: “Edge Energy used the best quality solar panels and related equipment. They did a great job of installation. Their system provides an online account that keeps track of solar production and energy usage. I have produced more energy than I use and been paid back by the energy companies for the energy I produce.” — Bryan via Google Reviews

Edge Energy at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 2006
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, backup battery installations, energy efficiency upgrades
  • Warranty: 25-year all-in-one warranty via SunPower
  • Financing Options: Cash payments, solar loans

Trinity Solar

Trinity Solar logo

Trinity Solar

Location: State of Maryland

What We Like: One of the more established companies in the solar business, family-owned Trinity Solar is the largest privately held residential solar installation company in the nation. With over 80,000 installations under its belt, Trinity Solar is a reliable choice for home and business owners in Maryland.

What We Don’t Like: The Trinity’s size has led to some issues in communication. We’ve seen reviews lately from customers who have struggled to get in touch with customer service.

What Customers Are Saying: “From the very first day someone came out to look at my house ‘til the day it was finished, Trinity was great! Always on time and did what they said they were going to do each and every time. Best part was, they kept me informed all the time. If you're going solar, Trinity is the company you want doing it.” — George via BBB

Trinity Solar at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 1994
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, backup battery installations
  • Warranty: 25-year equipment warranty, 5-year workmanship warranty
  • Financing Options: Cash payments, solar loans, solar leases/PPAs

American Sentry Solar

American Sentry Solar logo

American Sentry Solar

Location: State of Maryland; Based in Bel Air

What We Like: American Sentry Solar was launched as a division of American Design & Build and specializes in all aspects of exterior remodeling in addition to solar, including roofing, siding, windows and doors. Pairing roofing experts with solar specialists, American Sentry Solar offers residential and commercial installations and upgrades of the highest quality at a competitive price.

What We Don’t Like: Though we love the Enphase Encharge 10, we’d like to see American Sentry Solar offer other solar battery options to its customers.

What Customers Are Saying: “Other than the competitive price offered by American Sentry Solar, we were very pleased with their guarantee, warranty and monitoring plan included with the system. They answered our questions and gave us step-by-step information on what to expect for the whole process. Our panels are neatly arranged and look great on our roof. I love to think of all the money I am saving while sitting by the pool looking up at our panels.” — Jackie via Google Reviews

American Sentry Solar at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 1993
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, backup battery installations, roofing
  • Warranty: 25-year workmanship and manufacturing warranties
  • Financing Options: Cash payments, solar loans

Energy Select

Energy Select logo

Energy Select

Location: Southern Maryland; Based in Leonardtown

What We Like: Relative to its competitors, Energy Select offers the most comprehensive service we’ve seen when it comes to the overall efficiency and performance of your home or business’s energy system. We love seeing companies that stress minimizing energy use before moving on to installing solar panels. Energy efficiency upgrades can reduce the number of solar panels you’ll need, in most cases greatly reducing overall project costs.

What We Don’t Like: As with American Sentry Solar, we’d like to see Energy Select expand its battery offerings. Currently, it only offers the LG Chem.

What Customers Are Saying: “This service is amazing. All involved were professional and paid great attention to our questions. They are fast and leave the property clean and all trash removed. The difference in the home is amazing. All persons involved from start to finish are the best in their field. I would give them more than 5 stars.” — Frances via Google Reviews

Energy Select at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 2002
  • Services Provided: Solar panels, backup battery and EV charger installations, insulation, energy efficiency audits and more
  • Warranty: 10-year workmanship warranty, product-specific warranties
  • Financing Options: Cash payments, solar loans

Maryland Solar Solutions

Maryland Solar Solutions logo

Maryland Solar Solutions

Location: State of Maryland; Based in Owings Mills

What We Like: A highly local company, Maryland Solar Solutions comes recommended by regional sources like the Baltimore Sun. Focusing solely on being the best at a few select services (residential and small-business solar electric design and installation), Maryland Solar Solutions can be trusted to deliver you a quality, no-nonsense solar panel installation.

What We Don’t Like: Maryland Solar Solutions’ focused approach can be limiting for customers seeking add-ons like backup battery installations or EV chargers.

What Customers Are Saying: “We were impressed with the quality and efficiency of the panels used by MSSI as compared with other companies. Furthermore, their commitment to customer service is unsurpassed. They were knowledgeable and very helpful through the entire process, from HOA approval to installation to coordinating with BGE to registering to sell the extra energy we produce.” — Wilma via Google Reviews

Maryland Solar Solutions at a Glance:

  • Year Founded: 2008
  • Services Provided: Solar panel installations, energy efficiency audits
  • Warranty: Up to 25-year performance warranty
  • Financing Options: Cash payments, solar loans

How We Chose the Best Solar Companies in Maryland

Our company selection process includes researching the product portfolios, solar services, financing options, customer feedback and industry reputations of every major Maryland installer. Looking at metrics in these categories, we rated and ranked each company to narrow down our list of the nine best solar companies in Maryland. See our solar methodology for more information.

Choosing the Best Solar Installer for Your Home

There’s a great deal that goes into determining the best solar installer for your home, including your region, utility company, electric bills, roof space, energy consumption and more. The following factors might help you consider what to prioritize when choosing the best Maryland solar installer for your home or business.

Services Offered

Solar installation companies in Maryland will vary in service offerings and specializations. For instance, Maryland Solar Solutions chooses to focus strictly on solar panels, while companies like Edge Energy prioritize efficiency and home energy upgrades and use panels only to supplement your home’s energy system. Think about what makes your home or business unique — then find a company that prioritizes those needs. Other things to consider might be whether you need roofing work, EV chargers or backup power systems.

Installation Process

Before you sign a contract, make sure you're confident in your understanding of the installation process. Here are a few questions you’ll want the answers to:

  • How long does permitting take in my area?
  • What is my utility company's net metering policy?
  • Will any add-ons be installed along with the solar?
  • How long will the entire process take?

Permitting and interconnection can vary from city to city, so it's best to be sure you have realistic expectations.

Solar Pricing and Financing

Home solar is a great investment — especially in Maryland. Solar’s payback period can vary anywhere from 5 to 12 years (on average), so think about whether you might need special financing options to fit solar into your budget. Maryland is full of experienced solar installers familiar with the difficulties of high up-front costs, so be sure to ask about flexibility in financing options.

Industry Affiliations

It’s a good idea to hire a company that maintains industry credentials, such as membership in the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), a B Corp certification or affiliation with other professional associations. Memberships and certifications are a great indicator of the company's professionalism, workmanship, reputation and reliability.

Types of Panels

Some types of solar panels are better than others, and each installer will offer a differing portfolio of products. Small homes in confined areas will likely need high-efficiency solar panels, while commercial projects with more space can prioritize the most affordable solar panels. It can only help to ask what brands of panels your company is certified to sell and install. Certifications from some of the best solar panel brands like Tesla, Panasonic, LG or REC might also be a good indicator of legitimacy.

Incentives, Rebates and Tax Credits

Maryland offers some of the best solar incentives in the country. Though effective, these incentives can be difficult to navigate, and finding a solar installer with experience securing the best value from these incentives may provide the best return on investment in the long run. It pays to think locally. Does the company you're looking at have plenty of experience in your community?

Warranty

Most warranty issues with solar don’t stem from the panels themselves, but instead from the workmanship of the installer. As a result, we recommend choosing a solar provider with a robust workmanship or all-in-one warranty to avoid any issues to your roof or home that may emerge months to years after installation. Most reputable solar companies will offer at least a 10-year warranty that covers workmanship.

Cost of Solar in Maryland

As of 2022, our market research and data from solar brands conclude the average cost of solar in Maryland is around $2.77 per watt. This means a 5-kW system would cost around $10,261 after the federal solar tax credit is applied. Keep in mind that a 5-kW system is about the minimum size you'll need for your home.

Luckily for those in Maryland, the state offers a number of helpful incentives (in addition to the federal tax credit) to help reward residents who switch to clean energy. Visit the DSIRE database for more information on incentives in your area.

Maryland Solar Incentive

Maryland Solar Incentive Overview

Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs)

Maryland rewards its residents with SRECs for contributing to the state’s renewable portfolio standard. SRECs are certificates earned for every MWh of clean energy generated that can be sold through the SREC market to help offset the cost of solar.

Residential Clean Energy Grant Program

A much simpler incentive to understand than SRECs, Maryland’s residential clean energy grant program sends you a direct $1,000 rebate for installing a solar energy system of at least 1 kW.

Sales & Property Tax Exemptions

Solar installations in the Free State are exempt from paying both the sales and property taxes associated with your solar purchase and added property value.

Maryland Net Metering

Maryland has a statewide net metering program that allows you to sell excess solar energy back to the grid in exchange for credits that go toward any future utility bills.

How to Find the Best Solar Installer in Maryland

Maryland's renewable energy incentive structure makes it unique in the solar market, focusing on SRECs, grants, tax exemptions and more. As stated before, these can be very effective but intimidating and difficult to navigate. This is why we stress the importance of finding a solar company with experience applying for these incentives and with a proven history of maximizing its customers’ solar investments.

If you’re ready to take the first step, we recommend comparing quotes from some of Maryland’s top solar installers. From there, you can see which company offers the best rates and ask more specific questions about incentives, experience and more.

To start getting free quotes from the best solar companies in Maryland, you can use this tool or fill out the form below.

FAQ: Best Solar Companies in Maryland

Who is the most reputable solar company in Maryland?

The most reputable solar company in Maryland may be SunPower, due to its size and national acclaim. However, there are plenty of reputable local companies as well, including Lumina Solar and Solar Energy World.

Is there a solar tax credit in Maryland?

Though there is no statewide tax credit, Maryland offers direct payments of $1,000 to homeowners that install solar via its residential clean energy grant program. The federal solar tax credit is also available to residents of Maryland, along with SRECs, net metering, and sales and property tax exemptions.

How do I find a reputable solar company?

If you’re looking for a reputable solar company in Maryland, you’re in the right place. We recommend starting with this list, narrowing in on your region, and gathering free quotes from the providers available to service your energy needs. From there, you can compare quotes to find the best value and speak with representatives to pinpoint which offer seems best for you.

Karsten Neumeister is a writer and renewable energy specialist with a background in writing and the humanities. Before joining EcoWatch, Karsten worked in the energy sector of New Orleans, focusing on renewable energy policy and technology. A lover of music and the outdoors, Karsten might be found rock climbing, canoeing or writing songs when away from the workplace.
Photo by Candace Mathers on Unsplash

Whether you've been taking daily vitamins since childhood or you've decided it's time to supplement your diet with the essential nutrients of a multivitamin, more and more adults are relying on subscription services to deliver their daily nutrition.

From personalized vitamins and supplements for dry skin to supplements to boost your immune system, there's a vitamin subscription company that meets your needs. Let's break down the differences between some of the leading vitamin subscription companies so you can choose the best brand for you and the environment.

What are Vitamin Supplements?

Vitamins are nutrients that our body cannot manufacture by itself, yet are essential for its proper functioning. Under ideal circumstances, you should obtain these vitamins through a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. However, multivitamin supplements can work to compliment your diet and provide you with complete nutrition. Some, like krill oil supplements, provide a single nutrient or vitamin while others contain a complete range of vitamins and minerals to help support your body. There are also dietary supplements like vegan plant-based protein powders that can help with nutritional goals.

A vitamin subscription allows you to set up a recurring delivery schedule for your daily vitamin supplement to ensure that you never run out, while also allowing you to choose the right types of supplements for you. In addition to vitamins, you can also find probiotics and digestive enzymes to help support digestive and immune health.

Our Top Picks for the Best Vitamin Subscription Brands

Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

How We Chose These Subscriptions

There are a number of factors to consider when committing to a vitamin subscription. Here are a few of the key features that we prioritized in making our list.

  • Options: Vitamins and supplements can aid in filling gaps of what you need but aren't getting from your diet. Everyone's needs are different, whether you're pregnant, an older adult, or have medical afflictions such as immune or vitamin-deficiency issues. So having a wide variety of products to choose from can make the difference between a vitamin pack supplier being a go-to, or a hard pass.
  • Ingredients: Vitamins and supplements come from raw materials, and it's important to know how they source those ingredients. With that information in mind, you need to look for a company that does not include fillers, additives, or preservatives in products.
  • Testing: Daily vitamins have to be tested to ensure purity, efficacy, and bioavailability of ingredients. Expertise can not be improvised, and some brands even run several tests on their products before making them available.
  • Sustainability: If it's helping you, it should help the planet in the process. Suppliers that work with vegan, natural, organic, and even reusable packaging are a win-win on this matter. Since you will be getting their product delivered regularly, it is an important consideration. We also looked for companies committed to higher standards in their sourcing and manufacturing practices.
  • Cost: Depending on the number of recommended supplements, costs might vary from as low as $1 or less per day (in products with small batches) to up to $6 or $7 per day. Keep in mind that access to personalized knowledge centers can be included in some of the plans, and you will receive nutrition and wellness insights and dietary assessments.

Full Reviews of Our Favorite Vitamin Subscriptions of 2021

Best Overall: Ritual Essential for Women Multivitamin 18+

Ritual Daily Essential for Women Multivitamin

ritual.com

We like that Ritual makes all of its sources and suppliers fully traceable and available to consumers. Its website details the backstory of each carefully-sourced ingredient and the human supplier. This level of transparency is hard to find in the supplement world, and really sets Ritual apart.

Why buy: This women-founded and led business takes female health seriously and provides nuanced and targeted supplements to uniquely meet women's' nutritional needs. Their daily vitamin supplements are vegan, gluten-free, allergy-free, non-GMO, and free of synthetic fillers.

Best Plant-Based: Vital Plan Daily Herbal

Vital Plan Daily Herbal Supplementvitalplan.com

Vital Plan was founded in North Carolina by Dr. Bill Rawls after he sought a more natural and holistic treatment for his chronic pain. An expert in modern herbology, Dr. Rawls formulated botanical herbal therapies that use high-quality, hand picked ingredients that are backed by clinical research and tested by third-party labs.

Why buy: We like Vital Plan's Daily Herbal supplement because it is a physician-formulated herbal supplement that can naturally support total body wellness. Vital Plan is also a certified B corp, an Environmental Working Group supporter, and a Pledge 1% member.

Best for Sports Nutrition: Onnit Total Human Complete Supplement Packs

Onnit Total Human Complete Supplement Packs

onnit.com

Onnit Total Human Complete Supplement Packs are designed to deliver all of the vitamins and minerals you need to perform at your best in a convenient form. Instead of providing a single multivitamin, these supplements are divided into one pack for daytime support and another for nighttime support to give your body the nutrients it needs when it needs them.

Why buy: We like that Onnit Total Human packs offer different groups of clinically-researched vitamins and nutrients for different times of the day. The Day Pack includes support for focus, energy, and endurance while the Night Pack is meant to help with relaxation, rest, and recovery.

Best for Immune System: Global Healing Plant-Based Immune Boost

Global Healing Plant-Based Immune Support

globalhealing.com

This Global Healing Plant-Based Immune Support supplement offers a natural way to help support your immune system with USDA organic herbs, mushrooms, and aromatics. This all-in-one formula contains ingredients like organic elderberry, echinacea, enokitake mushrooms, birch polypore mushrooms, olive leaf, and pine bark.

Why buy: We like this liquid vitamin supplement from Global Healing because it is USDA organic, vegan, non-GMO, gluten-free, and not tested on animals. This plant-based formula makes it easy to help boost your immune response by taking one serving per day. You can even mix it into juices or smoothies.

Best for Omega-3s: Sunwarrior Algae-Based Omega-3

Sunwarrior Algae-Based Omega-3

sunwarrior.com

Sunwarrior offers a unique omega-3 supplement that is a great alternative to traditional fish oil. They go straight to the source and derive their omega-3 DHA and EPA from sustainably-grown and harvested algae. These vegan softgels can help support heart, brain, eye, and joint health with plant-based nutrients.

Why buy: We love that Sunwarrior Algae-Based Omega-3 supplements provide a completely plant-based alternative to fish oil supplements. Use these softgels to get all of the benefits of omega-3 DHA and EPA fatty acids from a source that is better for our oceans and planet.

Best Overall: GEM Daily Essentials

GEM Daily Essentials

dailygem.co

GEM is unlike any other supplement subscription on the market. Instead of sending powders or pills, your monthly GEM delivery contains chewable nutrition bites made with whole-food ingredients like spirulina, chia seeds, quinoa and dates. These are real food supplements made with plant-based ingredients.

Why buy: Their ingredients are carefully selected from trusted sources for maximum nutritional benefits and minimal processing. Each bite looks like something you could mix up in a food processor at home. We also love that your first month is delivered in a refillable tin and every subsequent month's bites come in a compostable pouch for waste-free packaging.

Best for Personalization: Care/of

Care/of Daily Personalized Multivitamins

takecareof.com

Care/of has made a loud and public commitment to increasing the sustainability of their single-serving, daily dose personalized vitamins. The brand recently switched to fully compostable, plant-based packaging, the first step on their way towards a more sustainable business. Their basic multivitamin starts at $15, but you can also take a quiz for a personalized mix of daily vitamins.

Why buy: We like that Care/of offers both western-style letter vitamins and traditional ayurvedic herbs like ashwagandha and reishi for those looking for alternative solutions.The brand is also transparent about its sourcing from around the world, and it maintains close relationships with the producers who supply their products.

Best for Heart Health: CocoaVia Heart & Brain Capsules

CocoaVia Heart and Brain Capsules

cocoavia.com

CocoaVia Heart & Brain supplements are meant to improve cardiovascular health, brain health, and overall wellness. Each CocoaVia serving (2 capsules) contains 450 mg of cocoa flavanols, which is the beneficial nutrient found in dark chocolate. This is a plant-based nutrient proven to improve heart and brain health when consumed daily at high levels.

Why buy: We like that CocoaVia capsules are backed by 20 years of research and over 30 clinical studies, and they are independently lab tested for quality. CocoaVia also partners with family farmers in Indonesia and carefully extracts the cocoa flavanols from the plant to maintain the true essence of the natural crop.

Best for Energy: Beekeeper's Naturals B.Fueled Bee Pollen

Beekeeper's Naturals B.Fueled Bee Pollen

beekeepersnaturals.com

Beekeeper's Naturals offers a subscription option for their B.Fueled Bee Pollen supplement that can provide protein and B vitamins to help keep you going. This sustainably sourced raw wildflower bee pollen also contains free forming amino acids and antioxidants that can give you an energy boost for workouts or busy days.

Why buy: We love that Beekeeper's Naturals offers an easy way to enjoy "nature's multivitamin" with this sustainably sourced bee pollen. It contains wildflower bee pollen and nothing else, for a clean source of energy with no added sugars, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, gluten, wheat, corn, dairy, or soy.

Best Vitamin Powder: NutraOne Vitality Powder

NutraOne Vitality Powder

5starnutritionusa.com

NutraOne Vitality Powder delivers all of your daily vitamins, minerals, and even digestive enzymes, in a convenient and highly-absorbable powder. You can mix in a scoop of powder with a glass of water each day to help boost your energy, immune system, metabolism, and support strong bones.

Why buy: We like that this multivitamin powder also includes digestive enzymes to help promote better digestive health so you get more nutrients from the foods you eat. NutraOne Vitality Powder can also help boost your metabolism to help you manage blood sugar, blood pressure, inflammation, and mood. It's also naturally sweetened with stevia leaf extract

What to Look for in a Vitamin Subscription Service

These days, there are more and more daily vitamin packs available. Dietary supplements are just another industry that has jumped onto the subscription train. As a consumer, it can be hard to cut through the noise around vitamins, supplements, superfood powders, prenatal, and other "good for you" dietary additions.

How can you be sure that a vitamin subscription service is right for you and reach your health goals? There are a few things to look out for.

First, where does the company source its ingredients? Just like with food, where your vitamins come from matters. And because there aren't strict governmental regulations on supplements, it's even more important to investigate how transparent your vitamin brand is.

Look for a brand that promises to include no fillers, additives, or preservatives in their products. Gluten-free and corn-free vitamins is also a good sign, as corn and wheat are often used as fillers to bulk up pills without any nutritional benefit.

Many of the brands below offer full transparency about where their products come from and even the specific suppliers they work with. You should check each ingredient of each vitamin in your subscription box.

The other important question to consider from a sustainability perspective is packaging. If you're having vitamins delivered to your home every 30 days, tiny plastic bottles, lids, cardboard, and bubble wrap can add up quickly.

Several companies listed below offer refillable packaging and use only materials that can be reused, recycled, and often composted. Choose from a brand that wants to deliver a daily dose in as little plastic as possible.

What are the Benefits of a Vitamin Subscription?

These services provide customized nutrients in convenient packs for daily health and wellness improvement. Not only can they give you more targeted dietary recommendations, they can help you identify any deficiencies that you can correct with a supplement to optimize your health. Not to mention that they offer the convenience of delivering your personalized supplement packs directly to you. And with a subscription, you'll never run out of your daily vitamins.

Should You Take Vitamin Supplements?

Whether you're looking for a complete vitamin recommendation, like prenatal vitamins, to control allergies by caring for your immune health, to lose weight, or trying to correct for a vitamin deficiency, there's a vitamin subscription for you. There are daily vitamin packs that can boost every type of person and every type of health goal. And with a personalized vitamin pack, you can get a curated supply of supplements that will best work with your body's needs.

What are Some of the Most Common Vitamin Supplements?

If you don't know where to start, here are some of the most crucial vitamins the body needs to function:

Vitamin D: Vitamin D plays a pivotal role in a number of bodily functions, and can help improve a range of ailments and conditions, including poor bone health, type 1 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and hypertension.

Magnesium: Magnesium is important for muscle and nerve functioning, and it has been recently touted for its ability to reduce the frequency and symptoms of migraine, headaches, as well as improving sleep.

Fish Oil: This supplement contains omega-3 fatty acids, which help In everything from cardiovascular health and brain functioning to arthritis and inflammation.

Vitamin C: Researchers have found that vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, which can lower the risks of cancer, cardiovascular disease, age-related macular degeneration. It also plays an important role in the immune system.

Takeaway

When selecting a vitamin subscription service to commit to, it's important to consider everything from the ingredients to the packaging materials. Some subscriptions use a simple questionnaire and an algorithm to pick your vitamin regimen. Others may ask you to submit to a blood test or DNA test. How personalized you want your program to be is up to you.

We recommend consulting a healthcare professional or registered dietician if you're making any major decisions about your health. Also take into considerations any potential allergens or the availability to supporting health products at your local drugstore to build out your routine.

Lizzy Briskin is the founder of Earthen Food Co. She is a chef, food writer, and recipe developer who helps people eat more mindfully for themselves and the environment, without overthinking it.

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Christina Victoria / Unsplash

It's hard to discuss the secrets to a healthy microbiome without mentioning probiotic supplements. But with so many options on the market, how do you know the best probiotic for you?

We break down the ins and outs of probiotics, including the best probiotic supplements available and what to look for in a high-quality probiotic. We also explain the different strains, number of CFUs, the difference between probiotics and digestive enzymes, and the benefits that these dietary supplements may have on your overall health.

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are good-for-you living organisms and beneficial bacteria that thrive in your digestive system. Contrary to popular belief, not all bacteria are bad for us. In fact, probiotic strains contribute to digestive health, which in turn supports your immune system and overall health. Taking a probiotic can sometimes be just as effective as taking a supplement to boost your immune system.

Our bodies need probiotics to maintain the right balance between good and bad bacteria within the gut. This balance keeps our digestive systems operating normally. In particular, probiotics stimulate the nerves responsible for moving food through the digestive system. This helps alleviate certain health issues, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diarrhea, and even eczema and allergies.

Some probiotic strains help your gut absorb medications more effectively and turn elements of the food you eat into vitamins that your body needs to thrive. In this way, a well-fed and active gut microbiome is key to a healthy immune system and metabolism.

So how do the tiny organisms do all this work? Again, it's all about balance. If bad bacteria enter your body and threaten to make you sick, the probiotics you eat or consume in a supplement counteract these bad actors to keep you healthy. Likewise, beneficial gut bacteria fight inflammation, which is a factor in many leading chronic diseases in the U.S., including diabetes and heart disease.

How can you support your microbiome with plenty of probiotics? First, you can eat foods that naturally contain probiotics. These natural sources include fermented foods, such as yogurt, sauerkraut, miso, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, and tempeh.

However, if you want to maximize the good bacteria in your gut and reap the health benefits of probiotics without drowning in miso soup, then a supplement might be right for you. Just like a daily vitamin subscription can help support your overall health, a daily probiotic may help boost your immune and digestive health.The key is to find the best probiotic for your needs.

Our Picks for the Top Probiotic Brands

Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

How We Chose the Best Probiotics

Here are the factors we considered to create our list of the best probiotic supplements.

Probiotic Strains

We looked to see how many different probiotic strains were included in each product and the types of strains used.

Number of Colony Forming Units

The number of Colony Forming Units, or CFUs, is the number of active microorganisms present in each serving of the probiotic.

Other Ingredients

We noted if the supplement contained additional digestive enzymes, fiber, or prebiotics to help boost digestive health.

Dietary Concerns

The best probiotics are also vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and non-GMO.

Our Top Online Picks for Overall Gut Health

Best Overall: Sunwarrior Probiotics

Sunwarrior Probiotics

sunwarrior.com

  • Strains - 4 active strains
  • Strength - 10 billion CFU
  • Added Ingredients - 4 strains of non-fiber phage prebiotics, spinach extract

Why buy: Sunwarrior Probiotics include 10 billion CFU of four different active soil-based probiotic strains. These soil-based organisms are thought to be more naturally resistant to the harsh conditions in your gut, giving them a better chance at thriving to help your digestion. We like that this probiotic is also vegan and plant-based, and includes four strains of prebiotics and Solarplast, a unique spinach-extract that provides added chloroplasts.

Best Prebiotic: Bulletproof Innerfuel Prebiotic

Bulletproof Innerfuel Prebiotic

bulletproof.com

  • Strains - None
  • Strength - 17 grams of prebiotics
  • Added Ingredients - Organic acacia, guar fiber, Larch Arabinogalactan (bark and heartwood of Larch tree)

Why buy: Bulletproof Innerfuel Prebiotic is a keto-friendly, plant-based source of prebiotics designed to help nourish and boost the good gut bacteria in your body. It contains organic acacia, guar fiber, and nutrients from Larch tree bark and heartwood that feed the bacteria in your microbiome to support healthy digestion and your immune system. Mix this unflavored powder into smoothies or drinks to get the most out of your probiotics.

Best Probiotics + Enzymes: Onnit Total Gut Health

Onnit Total Gut Health

onnit.com

  • Strains - 5 active strains + Saccharomyces Boulardii yeast
  • Strength - 10 billion CFU probiotics blend; 5 billion CFU S. Boulardii
  • Added Ingredients - Full spectrum digestive enzyme blend, Betaine HCI, organic Jerusalem artichoke root, organic dandelion root
Why buy: We like Onnit Total Gut Health packets because they give you more than just probiotics. In addition to the 10 billion CFUs of five different active cultures, it also contains S. Boulardii, a beneficial yeast that acts like a probiotic, and a proprietary blend of digestive enzymes to help you better digest fats, carbs, proteins, and fiber. They come in easy to take packets so you can maintain a healthy microbiome on-the-go.

Highest CFU: Global Healing Floratrex

Global Healing Floratrex Probiotic

globalhealing.com

  • Strains - 25 active strains
  • Strength - 75 billion CFU
  • Added Ingredients - Prebiotic blend, including a patented PreforPro® Bacteriophage Prebiotic

Why buy: At 75 billion CFU and 25 active strains, Floratrex from Global Healing is the strongest probiotic on our list. Each probiotic strain is designed to help promote healthy digestion, reduce gas and bloating, and can help boost your immune system. This vegan and gluten-free supplement also contains a unique prebiotic blend to help the good bacteria thrive so you can enjoy better gut health and overall wellness.

Best Plant-Based: Vital Plan Advanced Biotic

Vital Plan Advanced Biotic

vitalplan.com

  • Strains - 6 clinical grade herbs to support microbiome
  • Strength - 1.3 grams of herbs per serving
  • Added Ingredients - Plant cellulose capsule, rice flour, rice hull concentrate, plant-based magnesium stearate

Why buy: While not technically a probiotic, Vital Plan Advanced Biotic can help promote digestive health and a balanced biome. It contains 6 clinical-grade herbs that work to help support your gut flora, including Japanese knotweed, Cat's Claw, andrographis, garlic, sarsparilla, and barberry. We like Advanced Biotic from Vital Plan because it offers an herbal option to promote healthier digestion and to nourish your microbiome.

Best for Exercise Recovery: NutraOne Probiotic X

NutraOne Probiotic X

5starnutritionusa.com

  • Strains - 11 active strains
  • Strength - 25 billion CFU
  • Added Ingredients - Proprietary enzyme blend, NUTRAFLORA FB P-95 (Fructooligosaccharides)

Why buy: NutraOne Probiotic X is designed to support healthy microflora in your digestive system for healthier digestion, immune system functioning, and even recovery from exercise. It includes the probiotic strain DE11, which may help to reduce inflammation in muscles after workouts. We like this probiotic because it can help you feel less bloated while boosting your ability to digest proteins.

Best Probiotic + Fiber: Poophoria Rhythm + Harmony

Poophoria Rhythm + Harmony Probiotic

getpoophoria.com

  • Strains - 2 active strains
  • Strength - 20 billion CFU
  • Added Ingredients - Sunfiber (water-soluble dietary fiber)

Why buy: The Poophoria Rhythm and Harmony bundle is meant to both balance your microbiome to perform at its best and help ease digestion. The Harmony probiotic includes active strains of Lactobacillus casei and Bifidobacterium lactis that can improve your digestive health and support your immune system. The Rhythm supplement includes soluble fiber and magnesium to improve the health of your intestine and colon, and to activate digestive enzymes in the gut.

Best for Travel: Care/of Gut Check Probiotic

Care/of Gut Check Probiotic Quick Sticks

takecareof.com

  • Strains - 2 active strains
  • Strength - 1.5 billion CFU
  • Added Ingredients - Natural flavors, tapioca starch, maltodextrin, magnesium oxide, xylitol, erythritol

Why buy: We love these Care/of Gut Check probiotic quick sticks because they make it easy to support healthy digestion and microflora on the go. Each stick contains 1.5 billion CFU of two important stains of good bacteria, B. longum and B. lactis. The probiotic powder has a blueberry flavor, and is quick dissolving so you can take it without water. Gut Check probiotics are perfect for travel, the gym, or the office.

The Benefits of Probiotic Supplements

Why should you add a probiotic supplement to your daily routine? For starters, if you don't enjoy eating a lot of fermented foods, taking a daily supplement of live bacteria can ensure that you enjoy the health benefits of probiotics without majorly altering your diet. A probiotic supplement works just like taking vitamins and supplements for dry skin or adding a plant-based protein powder to your diet. Simply find the brand and form you will be comfortable taking each day to boost your health.

By taking a daily probiotic product, you may reduce the risk of serious and uncomfortable digestive concerns. Some studies, including a six-week study on 70 petrochemical workers, suggest a link between regular probiotic supplementation and a reduced risk of depression and anxiety. Probiotics have even been shown to help boost the immune system and may help your body fend off respiratory infections.

There are also weight-loss benefits of probiotics. Probiotics can help increase satiety by increasing fullness hormones, leading you to eat less and experience fewer cravings. Some types of bacteria, such as Lactobacillus gasseri, are linked to a reduction in belly fat and BMI in human studies.

What to Look for in a Probiotic Supplement

There are a few important things to look for when choosing the best probiotic supplement.

Multiple Bacterial Strains

Opt for a supplement that contains multiple bacterial strains. Brands offer everything from one to dozens of probiotic strains, and studies suggest that multi-strain supplements offer more health benefits than single-strain.

CFU Count

Each organism in a probiotic supplement is called a colony-forming unit, or CFU. Ensure that your product lists a specific CFU count, which can range from 1 to over 900 billion per dose. Supplement manufacturers are only required by the FDA to list the total weight of bacteria in their products. However, this weight can include living and dead bacteria. Since you can only reap benefits from live microorganisms, CFU count is the best measure of a supplement's potency.

In addition, bacteria die off over time. So after checking the CFU count, ensure that the product lists CFUs at expiration, not at the time of manufacture.

That being said, more CFUs does not always equal better results. Because everyone's microbiome is different, there's no rule for selecting the right number of CFUs for you. The best probiotic supplements will be somewhere around 50 billion, and remember that more is not always better, but is usually more expensive.

Lab Testing

The best products are third-party lab tested. This means that an independent scientific lab has assessed the product for effectiveness and to ensure that it meets claims outlined on its packaging, including the number of CFUs and potency.

At the end of the day, there's a lot of information to dig through to choose the best probiotic supplement for your lifestyle. But with a better understanding of the jargon and what to look for on packaging, you can be a better-informed consumer and find the right product to help your microbiome thrive.

How to Use a Probiotic

Most probiotics are nutritional supplements that you take daily, either as a capsule or a powder. Some brands recommend taking them with a meal while others advise taking your probiotic before eating. Almost all are best taken with a full glass of water. Many people take probiotics year round to support ongoing gut health, while others take them for a certain period of time to help rebalance their microbiome. Probiotics can also be good for travel if you suffer from digestive issues while on the road or flying.

Safety & Side Effects

According to the Cleveland Clinic, probiotics are generally considered safe since they contain bacteria and microorganisms already present in the human body. In the first few days after taking them, they can cause upset stomach, diarrhea, and bloating as your digestive system adjusts to the new strains of probiotics.

There are certain instances where people should be extremely cautious when taking probiotics because of a risk of infection. This includes those with a weakened immune system, those who recently had surgery, and anyone with a critical illness. Though rare, probiotics are linked to certain side effects including a risk of infection, developing a resistance to antibiotics, and developing harmful byproducts from the supplement.

Always talk to your doctor before starting probiotics, especially if you have any serious digestive or gastrointestinal disorder or illness.

Lizzy Briskin is the founder of Earthen Food Co. She is a chef, food writer, and recipe developer who helps people eat more mindfully for themselves and the environment, without overthinking it.

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