Did I Find The Perfect Yeast?

256px-S_cerevisiae_under_DIC_microscopyWelcome to The HSD today.  I hope you are enjoying what you read as much as I enjoy reading and typing up what I learn.  I do my best to walk all around a topic, but sometimes I miss something.  Sometimes I get it wrong.  Sometimes I learn new information after a post is written.  Please comment below if you see something amiss so we can all learn.  Thank you for your patience if you’re a regular reader; it is getting admittedly difficult to accomplish anything as our little baby grows, including blog posts.

Today I want to summarize from the last post what I’d want in a perfect brewer’s yeast or nutritional yeast supplement.

For me, the perfect brewer’s yeast and/or nutritional yeast supplement. . .

1.  . . .would not have been grown on genetically modified (GMO) plant products.

2.  . . .would not use a GMO yeast.

3.  . . .would not contain cyanocobalamin (a type of vitamin B 12) or folic acid because they are synthetic forms not metabolized well by some people.  The supplements would contain only natural folate and natural methylcobalamin (another type of vitamin B 12).  If I wanted more folate and methylcobalamin than a supplemental yeast had intrinsically, I’d carefully hand-select supplements and/or foods to get them.  Including a physiologic form of vitamin B 12 is very challenging for these supplemental yeast manufacturers, and the cyanocobalamin they add in is not more special than any other cyanocobalamin in a run-of-the-mill multi-vitamin.  Make sense?

4.  . . .would be labeled with the term folate if it actually had folate in it.  It would not use the term folic acid for what is actually folate–or folate for what is actually folic acid!  It would be labeled with the specific form of vitamin B 12, cyanocobalamin or methylcobalamin, if it had vitamin B 12 at all.

5.  . . .would be stored in an opaque container to protect the vitamins from deterioration from light exposure.

6.  . . .would be certified gluten-free (GF)–unless I knew I had NO gluten issues at all, then a true brewer’s yeast might not be all that bad.

7.  . . .would not contain free glutamates or would have as low a content as possible. (I will use glutamate interchangeably with glutamic acid.)  Explanation as I understand it today regarding this issue:  Glutamic acid is an amino acid, and when it is “free,” it is no longer a part of a protein structure.  It is believed that the “free” form of glutamic acid can be problematic for some people.  I could not find the “free” glutamic acid content of supplemental yeasts.  I could find 5% as glutamic acid total (not free).  (1)  If you ate the supplemental yeast (which you shouldn’t do) before it was killed by heating/drying, there shouldn’t be much, if any, free glutamic acid.  (Apparently, tomatoes have high glutamic acid, but it’s not free.)  However, when you dry the yeast with high temperatures and then grind it up, you will have some free glutamic acid formed.  I really don’t think there’s much to be done about this because the yeast is usually pasteurized (It’s not raw.).  In addition, when the yeast is dying, it will make its own enzymes to autolyse (break itself down), allowing production of free glutamates.   Fermentation can increase the free glutamate too.  Free glutamate gives UMAMI, and our taste buds want it.  Mmm.  I read that human breast milk contains 19 milligrams of free glutamic acid per 100 grams — cow’s milk has 1 milligram. (2)  So mostly, I guess whether glutamates are an issue comes down to person sensitivity and not overdoing it!

8.  . . .would taste pleasant.

9.  . . .would contain chromium and selenium, among other minerals.

10.  . . .would have no added ingredients, such as rice flour.

So, did I find a yeast to meet my criteria?

Heck no.  Did I go down trying?  You betcha’.

Here is how some of the brands that pop up when you Google “buy nutritional yeast” shake down.  Always check current labels because they are ever-changing.  I will type up what I found, but when you read this–it may already be out of date.  So if you need one of these criteria to be true, please do not rely on my blog post for accurate information.  Do your own checking.  This is just to give an idea of what’s out there and what I found.  One thing I learned about is that some of the supplemental yeasts available are made by the same people but then labeled by a brand.  For example, Red Star can be distributed under another name.

KAL:   GF, Non-GMO, fortified, opaque container, selenium, no chromium

Bragg’s:   GF, GMO status not stated, not clear to me if it’s fortified or not, clear container, selenium, no chromium

Bob’s Red Mill (and here):  Probably GF, GMO status not stated, fortified, clear bag, no listed selenium or chromium, processed above 212 degrees F

Lewis Labs:  GF, Non-GMO, non-fortified, opaque container, not much selenium, yes chromium, sold under no other label, 60 degrees C/140 degrees F

Red Star and here and here:  GF, Non-GMO yeast grown on undetermined plant source status, fortified at pasteurization, container depends on size/source,  no mention of selenium or chromium, pasteurization temperatures

Swanson’s:  Not GF verified, States Non-GMO, non-fortified, opaque container, selenium, no chromium

NOW:  GF, Non-GMO, fortified, opaque container, selenium, no chromium

Frontier (and here and here):  Not GF verified.  Not GMO verified or labeled as “organic” (which would imply GMO-free status).  This one is really challenging to figure out because different sites state different things.  One site has “added B vitamins” but still lists “folate” on the label where another site shows the label with “folic acid.”  Oh dear.  I think it’d have to be classified as fortified.  Looks opaque on the front.  No listed selenium/chromium.  It is pasteurized.

Twinlab Brewer’s Yeast:  This is actual “brewer’s yeast” from brewing and not GF verified.  It lists having vitamin B 12 but has no mention of fortification.  It is not labeled as GMO free.  It appears non-fortified.  It is in a glass bottle.  It has no listed selenium but it does have chromium.

Solgar’s Brewer’s Yeast:  Contains wheat it says, so not GF.  GMO status not specified but grown on beet molasses.  Not fortified but does state it contains B 12.  Opaque container.  No selenium or chromium listed.

Bottom line: 

Nutritional yeast and brewer’s yeast as supplements have great potential.  They have a beautiful array of vitamins and minerals, as well as some unique features that come from being a yeast organism (which I’ll talk about soon–soon is a relative term).  However, people with gluten issues, yeast cross-reaction issues, glutamate sensitivity issues, and synthetic vitamin issues need to have caution, as well as those who have principles which shun GMOs.  I wouldn’t say they’re absolutely out, but I’d say a user, after clearing with their doctor that it’s okay to take, should proceed with awareness and attention.  Be educated.  I wish the supplement industry and labeling laws were more transparent.  It is so tough!

Have a great weekend!

Terri

1.  http://www.yeastextract.info/faq

2.  http://www.buzzfeed.com/johnmahoney/the-notorious-msgs-unlikely-formula-for-success#.cwa44wOLm

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