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Is Nutritional Yeast Good For You?

What’s the difference between nutritional yeast and brewer’s yeast?

By
Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
4-minute read
Episode #72

How Nutritious is Brewer’s Yeast?

Brewer’s yeast, on the other hand, doesn’t really taste all that good.  It can be quite bitter. People who use brewer’s yeast as a nutritional supplement usually do what they can to mask the flavor by adding it to juice or smoothies or even just taking it in capsules as a vitamin supplement.

Brewer’s yeast also has a very different nutritional profile.  It contains relatively modest amounts of B vitamins, equivalent to what you might find in a bowl of fortified cereal.  But it has a lot of minerals not found in nutritional yeast, particularly chromium. Chromium is important because it helps keep your blood sugar steady. Because it’s quite a bit denser than nutritional yeast, a tablespoon’s worth contains more protein but also more calories.

So, the two are really complementary, nutritionally. Click on the links to compare the nutrient profiles of nutritional yeast and brewer’s yeast.

Is Nutritional or Brewer’s Yeast a Good Source of Vitamin B12?

Both brewer’s and nutritional yeast have a reputation for being a good vegetarian source of vitamin B12—and this is of particular interest to vegans, who are at increased risk of B12 deficiency.

It’s important to realize that most but not all nutritional yeast products are fortified with B12.

It’s important to realize that most but not all nutritional yeast products are fortified with B12. If you’re counting on nutritional yeast as your primary source of B12, check the label to be sure that the brand you are buying is a good source.

For more information about B12 and vegetarianism, here’s a fact sheet from the National Institutes of Health

How Much Nutritional Yeast Is It Safe To Eat?

As for how much nutritional yeast it’s safe to eat, if you take in more B-vitamins than your body can use, the excess will be excreted in your urine so I don’t think there is any risk of nutrient overdose or toxicity from eating too much nutritional yeast. 

As for brewer’s yeast, one to two tablespoons a day is the recommended amount for adults. You might also want to read this article from the University of Maryland about brewer’s yeast, which notes some potential drug interactions.  And if you have an allergy to yeast you should avoid both brewer’s and nutritional yeast.

How to Use Nutritional Yeast

Although brewer’s yeast is perfectly good for you, I don’t use it myself because it doesn’t taste that good. I can cover those particular nutritional bases with other foods that I like better. I do use nutritional yeast from time to time because I enjoy the flavor and it’s fun to eat things that taste good and are also really good for you!

Like Elizabeth, I like to sprinkle it on popcorn. It’s also good on steamed vegetables or mixed into scrambled eggs. And in this week’s newsletter, I’ll include a recipe for a really delicious sandwich filling made with tofu and nutritional yeast.  You can sign up for newsletter by clicking here.

Don't know the best way to store nutritional yeast, or long it's shelf life is? Find out in my Quick Tip about storing nutritional yeast.

 

Administrative

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Have a great week and remember to eat something good for me!

RESOURCES: 

B12 Fact Sheet (National Institutes of Health)

Brewer's Yeast (University of Maryland)

Nutritional Yeast image courtesy of Shutterstock

 

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About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.