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Vitamins, Minerals and Dietary Supplements

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Brewer's Yeast

What is brewer's yeast? Why do we need it?

Brewer's yeast (often called nutritional yeast) was originally a byproduct produced by the brewing of beer. It differs from live baker's yeast in that its live yeast cells have been destroyed, leaving the nutrients behind. Although it is still used to brew certain beverages, brewer's yeast is now grown as a separate product and is prized for its nutritional value.

Brewer's yeast is looked upon favorably because it contains high levels of many vital nutrients, including most of the B vitamins, 16 amino acids and 14 different minerals. Brewer's yeast also has a high protein content (one tablespoon provides 4.6 grams of protein), making it a valuable source of protein for vegetarians; high quantities of phosphorous; and high levels of chromium, which can lower blood glucose levels and low density lipoprotein (LDL) levels.

How much brewer's yeast should I take?

Brewer's yeast can be taken in juice of water; four tablespoons per day are recommended. Most health care providers suggest that people taking brewer's yeast start will a small amount (one teaspoon), then progress to four tablespoons.

What are some good sources of brewer's yeast?

Brewer's yeast can be found at many supermarkets and health food stores. It is available in flake, powder, tablet and liquid form.

What can happen if I don't get enough brewer's yeast?

There are no known studies documenting the lack of brewer's yeast in a normal diet and its impact on the human body.

What can happen if I take too much? Are there any side-effects I should be aware of?

Large doses (>four tablespoons per day) may cause gas in some subjects. If you have frequent yeast infections, you should avoid brewer's yeast. People with osteoporosis should avoid brewer's yeast because of its high phosphorous content. If you take a yeast supplement, you should also take extra calcium.

References

  • Bentley JP, Hunt TK, Weiss JB, et al. Peptides from live yeast cell derivative stimulate wound healing. Arch Surg 1990;125:641—646.
  • Hegoczki J, Suhajda A, Janzso B, Vereczkey G. Preparation of chromium enriched yeasts. Acta Alimentaria1997;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.
  • Rabinowitz MB, Gonick HC, Levin SR, Davidson MB. Effects of chromium and yeast supplements on carbohydrate and lipid metabolism in diabetic men. Diabetes Care 1983;6:319—327.
  • Shils M (ed.) Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, 9th edition. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins;1999, pp.1628-1629.

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