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Home > Health Library > Brewer's Yeast
Brewer's Yeast
Overview
Brewer's yeast is made from a one-celled fungus called Saccharomyces cerevisiae and is used to make beer. It also can be grown to make nutritional supplements. Brewer's yeast is a rich source of minerals -- particularly chromium, an essential trace mineral that helps the body maintain normal blood sugar levels; selenium; protein; and the B-complex vitamins. It tastes bitter and should not be confused with baker's yeast, nutritional yeast, or torula yeast. All those types of yeast are low in chromium. Brewer's yeast has been used for years as a nutritional supplement.

What is Brewer’s Yeast ?
Brewer's yeast is a kind of yeast that is a by-product of brewing beer. Dietary supplements containing brewer's yeast often contain non-living, dried yeast. People use brewer’s yeast to make medicine.

Due to the chromium content of brewer's yeast, there is interest in using it for lowering blood glucose in people with diabetes. Chromium may help the body use insulin more effectively and this can lower blood sugar levels.

Additionally, brewer's yeast seems to stimulate chemicals (intestinal enzymes) that could help relieve diarrhea.

It also might help fight bacteria that cause infections in the intestine, as well as improve the body’s defenses against viral lung infections such as flu and the common cold.


Benefits / uses
Brewer's yeast is often used as a source of B-complex vitamins, chromium, and selenium. The B-complex vitamins in brewer's yeast include B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B9 (folic acid), and H or B7 (biotin). These vitamins help break down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, which provide the body with energy. They also support the nervous system, help maintain the muscles used for digestion, and keep skin, hair, eyes, mouth, and liver healthy.

Brewer's yeast does not contain vitamin B12, an essential vitamin found in meat and dairy products. Vegetarians sometimes take brewer's yeast mistakenly believing that it provides B12, which can be lacking in their diet.


Diabetes
Some studies suggest that chromium supplements may help people with diabetes control blood sugar levels. People with diabetes either do not produce enough insulin -- a hormone needed to change sugar, starches and other food into energy -- or cannot use the insulin that their bodies make. Chromium may lower blood sugar levels as well, improving glucose tolerance and reducing the amount of insulin needed. Because brewer's yeast is a rich source of chromium, scientists think it may help treat high blood sugar.

High Cholesterol
A few studies suggest that brewer's yeast may help lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels in the blood and raise HDL ("good") cholesterol levels. Researchers aren't sure whether that is due to the chromium in brewer's yeast or another substance, and not all studies have found positive results.

Weight Loss
Although some studies suggest that chromium may help reduce body fat, the amount of fat lost is small compared to what can be lost with exercise and a well-balanced diet. However, brewer's yeast is also used as a protein supplement and energy booster, so it may help maintain a healthy weight.

Other Uses
At least one study has found that brewer's yeast may improve acne. Another linked it to a reduced risk of a second skin cancer. And one large, preliminary study found that taking a specific kind brewer' s yeast product (EpiCor) may help prevent colds and flu.

Best Form For Human Consumption
Brewer's yeast is available in powder, flakes, tablet, and liquid forms.

Doses
Pediatric: Brewer's yeast is not recommended for use in children, because it hasn’t been studied.
Adult: 1 - 2 Tbsp per day; may be added to food or dissolved in juice or water.


Possible Side effects / Precautions / Possible Interactions:
Side effects from brewer's yeast are generally mild and may include gas. People who have frequent yeast infections or are allergic to yeast should avoid brewer's yeast.

People with Crohn’s disease should ask their health care provider before taking brewer’s yeast.


Possible Interactions:
Brewer’s yeast may lower blood sugar levels. When combined with diabetes medications, taking brewer's yeast could raise the risk of having low blood sugar. If you take medications for diabetes, ask your health care provider before taking brewer’s yeast.
 
Research studies / References
arw Bentley JP, Hunt TK, Weiss JB, et al. Peptides from live yeast cell derivative stimulate wound healing. Arch Surg. 1990;125:641–646.
arw Hegoczki J, Suhajda A, Janzso B, Vereczkey G. Preparation of chromium enriched yeasts. Acta Alimentaria. 1997;26:345–358.
arw Moyad MA, Robinson LE, Zawada ET Jr, et al. Effects of a modified yeast supplement on cold/flu symptoms. Urol Nurs. 2008 Feb;28(1):50-55.
arw Porter D, Raymond LW, Anastasio GD. Chromium: friend or foe? Arch Fam Med. 1999;8:386-390.
arw Anderson RA. Effects of chromium on body composition and weight loss. Nutr Rev. 1998;56(9):266-270.
arw Anderson RA. Chromium, glucose intolerance and diabetes. J Amer Coll Nutr. 1998;17:548-555.
arw Anderson RA. Chromium in the prevention and control of diabetes. Diabetes Metab. 2000; 26:22-27.
arw Anderson RA. Elevated intake of supplemental chromium improved glucose and insulin variables in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes. 1997;46:1786-1791.
arw Rakel D. Rakel Integrative Medicine, 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier;2008;73.