Brewer's yeast, which is often called nutritional yeast, was originally a
by-product of the brewing of beer. While still used for brewing, it is also now
produced for its nutritional value. Nutritional yeast is not exactly the same as
brewer's yeast. Brewer's yeast was originally used as a nutritional supplement,
then other yeasts were made available for this purpose. Brewer's yeast differs
from live baker's yeast in that its live yeast cells have been destroyed,
leaving the nutrients behind. Live yeast cells can actually deplete the body of
B vitamins and other nutrients.
Nutritional yeast contains high levels of many important nutrients, including
all of the B vitamins (except for B12), 16 out of 20 amino acids, and
14 different minerals. The amino acids in yeast are protein components which
help the body repair tissue and fight disease. Brewer's yeast has a high protein
content, with 1 tbsp. providing 4.6 g, making it a rich source of protein for
vegetarians. It is also high in phosphorus.
Because yeast is such a rich source of the B vitamin family, it enhances the
roles these vitamins play in the body. The B-complex vitamins support and
optimize carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism. They also support the
nervous system and maintain tonicity in gastrointestinal muscles. Different B
vitamins play different roles, particularly in their support of the nervous
system. They relieve stress, depression, irritability, and fatigue, and also
help protect against aging. When under the pressures of stress or infection, the
body needs higher supplies of these important vitamins. The body does not store
excess B vitamins, so they must be continually replenished. B vitamins can also
help deter morning sickness.
Biotin, one of the B vitamins that brewer's yeast supplies, has been shown to
strengthen brittle nails and improve the health of hair. It also improves the
metabolism of scalp oils, which make it an important treatment for seborrheic
dermatitis, a condition seen most often in infants ("cradle cap") and the
elderly. Biotin is also used to treat diabetes, since it enhances insulin
sensitivity, increases glucokinase activity, and is helpful for treating
Brewer's yeast is also an important source of chromium. There is no official
RDA for chromium, but the U.S. FDA recommends 120 mcg daily. However, 90% of
Americans are deficient in this important mineral. Chromium has the ability to
significantly lower low density lipoprotein (LDL) levels in the blood and raise
high density lipoprotein (HDL) levels. Studies have shown that cardiac patients
can have 40% lower blood levels of chromium than those without coronary artery
disease. Some research has suggested that brewer's yeast also contains other
hypocholesterolemic factors beyond its rich chromium content.
Chromium is also an important supplement for those with Type II (adult onset)
diabetes. It can significantly lower blood glucose levels by aiding transmission
of insulin into the cells. Researchers have been able to lower some glucose
levels in diabetics to almost normal levels with daily chromium doses of 1,000
mcg. Chromium supplementation should be considered as an adjunct to started
Even if blood glucose levels are normal, skin glucose tolerance appears to be
impaired in cases of acne. Several studies have tested the use of chromium for
acne treatment, with good results. Chromium's ability to increase the
effectiveness of insulin's activity in the body has also led to its use as a
weight loss aid. Chromium can be difficult for the body to absorb, but brewer's
yeast is one of most absorbable ways to take it.
Chromium, thiamine, nicotinic acid, riboflavine, pyridoxine, pantothenic
acid, biotin, folic acid, cyanocobalamin, aminobenzoic acid, and
Brewer's yeast comes in powder, flake, tablet, and liquid
- As a source of chromium: to reduce blood sugar levels in Type II
diabetics, to lower blood cholesterol levels, to aid in weight loss, and to aid
in the treatment of acne
- As a source of B vitamins: to relieve stress, depression,
irritability, and fatigue
- As a source of biotin: to strengthen hair and nails and treat
seborrheic dermatitis and diabetes
|Dosage Ranges and Duration of
Can be taken in juice or water; 4 tbsp. per day are recommended. If the
body's diet is low in B vitamins, this amount may cause gas. It is best to begin
with 1 tsp. in a glass of juice and work slowly up to 4 tbsp. Nutritional yeast
may be taken as a source of chromium to assist weight loss and treat impaired
glucose tolerance, or of biotin to promote strong nails and healthy hair and
treat cradle cap, diabetes, and diabetic neuropathy.
Brewer's yeast has no known side effects.
Be cautious with yeast products if you have an overgrowth of intestinal yeast
(Candida albicans or rhodotorula yeast). People with osteoporosis should
avoid yeast because of its high levels of phosphorus. If taking a yeast
supplement, also take extra calcium.
Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)
Brewer's yeast contains a significant amount of tyramine, which should be
avoided while on monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) therapy (Utermohlen 1999).
MAOI medications include phenelzine, tranylcypromine, pargyline, selegiline, and
isocarboxazid. In addition, brewer's yeast may interact with meperdine, a
narcotic analgesic. The dangerous interaction between brewer's yeast and these
medications could lead to "hypertensive crisis," a rapid and severe increase in
blood pressure that is characterized by nausea, vomiting, headache, and
palpitations. This reaction may result in a myocardial infarction or
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Chromium necessary to regulate blood sugar. Conscious Choice: The Journal
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Hegoczki J, Suhajda A, Janzso B, Vereczkey G. Preparation of chromium
enriched yeasts. Acta Alimentaria. 1997;26:345-358.
Li Y-C. Effects of brewer's yeast on glucose tolerance and serum lipids in
Chinese adults. Biol Trace Elem Res. 1994;41:341-347.
McCarty MF. Insulin resistance in Mexican Americans: a precursor to obesity
and diabetes? Med Hypotheses. 1993;41:308-315.
Murray M. Biotin: An overlooked essential B vitamin. Am J Natural Med.
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Rabinowitz MB, Gonick HC, Levin SR, Davidson MB. Effects of chromium and
yeast supplements on carbohydrate and lipid metabolism in diabetic men.
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edition. Baltimore, Md: Williams & Wilkins;
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