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Brewer's Yeast: Overview

Brewer's yeast, or Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is commonly used both for brewing beer and ale and also for making nutritional supplements. These nutritional yeast supplements are made from dried and crushed cells, are not alive and cannot ferment. Saccharomyces cerevisiae is often confused with Saccharomyces boulardii, which is a live probiotic supplement.

Brewer's yeast is rich in many nutrients, including trace minerals like selenium and chromium, B-complex vitamins (thiamine, niacin, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, folate, B-12, and biotin); immune-enhancing beta-glucans, ribonucleic acid (RNA), and others.

Health Benefits of Brewer's Yeast

Brewer's yeast is used as a convenient, inexpensive and concentrated source of these nutrients. Yeast supplements are considered by many users to be a more natural, whole-food source of nutrients than synthetic vitamin tablets and capsules.

Studies have shown that the selenium found in brewer's yeast may have anti-carcinogenic properties, since diets low in selenium are associated with higher risks of certain cancers. therefore may help prevent the incidence of certain cancers. Research has also shown that the chromium found in brewer's yeast has anti-diabetic properties, since chromium may improve glucose tolerance in those with Type II (or adult onset) diabetes.

Using Brewer's Yeast

Dosages vary according to user preference and manufacturer dose guidelines. Brewer's yeast may occasionally cause gas in those whose diets are low in B-complex vitamins and fiber; if this occurs, reduce dose and gradually increase the dosage along with fiber intake. Brewer's yeast supplements are available in flake, powder, tablet and capsule form.

Side-Effects and Cautions:

Do not consume brewer's yeast if you are currently taking an MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor) antidepressant medication, or narcotics for pain, as a very serious condition called "hypertensive crisis" may occur. Pregnant/nursing women should not use brewer's yeast, as safety has not been proven in these populations.