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!


1.  http://www.yeastextract.info/faq

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

10 thoughts on “Did I Find The Perfect Yeast?

  1. Drew

    Here’s another to consider:

    Seems to fit the criteria you were looking for. What do you think? I went to a local health food store after reading your yeast articles, they had that on the shelf, and I couldn’t find anything about it that seemed to contradict what your ideal qualities would be, so I got some. Please tell me why I made a mistake; thanks. And thanks for the research and articles that helped me go with that one! Lucky find, I guess. (I really am curious if there’s something sketchy to you about it or if you like the looks of it.)

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Hi, Drew!

      I think that was a good find! And how convenient you don’t even have to special order it! I really like that it has chromium and zinc in it. And that there are no added synthetic vitamins added. (Although, I’m assuming you don’t need vitamin B12. Many vegans use nutritional/brewer’s yeast for B12. So any vegan or person wanting vitamin B12, take note. This one doesn’t have it. However, I think a better quality B12 than that added to nutritional yeast is called for in our bodies.)

      The only thing, with much picking, that I would maybe ask the manufacturer would be, “Is the YEAST GMO-free?” But, I’ll bet it is. GMO yeast isn’t that common, I don’t think. And they have non-GMO stated, so if one wants to assume, then one would assume they’d have checked out their yeast too.

      Do you like the taste? The texture? Any bad reactions? I read the Amazon reviews. It got very nice reviews. Of course, I always read the negative reviews. All I saw there was some people didn’t like the taste and some had reactions—and you’ll find those complaints for nearly ANY supplement!

      And one last thing I’d like to point out. Companies may change where they get their yeast from, and so flavor, granulation and even yeast vitamin and mineral content will change. So one rule I have for all my products still applies, [Read] “Every label, every time.” But this label as I see it on-line, looks pretty clean!

      Thanks for pointing this one out to me!


      1. Drew

        I asked their customer service, “Hi, is the yeast strain used to make the Super Earth Brewer’s Yeast a non-GMO yeast strain?”
        And they replied, “Yes, it is non-GMO.”

        I didn’t mind the taste mixed in water, but I’m used to some funky stuff, you know, so if someone doesn’t like the taste, I’d recommend mixing it in bone broth and see what they think then. I’ve used Triphala for a while (good stuff, worth looking into) and I don’t mind that in warm water, but it’s a good example of something that’s a bit of an acquired taste, but if it’s mixed in bone broth, the bitter and astringent flavors aren’t as strong. That probably means the parts of it that cause the bitter and astringent flavors aren’t going to do as much while being digested, but anyway, the yeast has an umami flavor, and if that’s unpalatable, the broth makes it kind of sweet, too. I’m thinking of your goal of giving health foods to kids. Broth makes almost everything milder and sweeter, seems to me.

        Also, the other thing I was wondering — just because the sugar beets are non-GMO, do you know if the yeast feeding on them absorbs pesticides or fertilizers that might be in/on them? And I was wondering the same thing about whatever might be in the tap water used while feeding the yeast. You said companies may change where they get their yeast from, so I guess I should ask them if they can tell me about that. I was looking at the tap water for the city BlueBonnet is located in (this site is a good resource even if the yeast comes from a different city):
        So between the water and the pesticides that may be used on non-GMO sugar beets, there’s still some opportunities to nitpick!
        I found this on the Lewis Labs brewer’s yeast product page (http://lewislabsdirect.com/products/new-brewers-yeast-12-35oz):
        “…As the yeast feeds on this culture medium, it produces alcohol while it absorbs nutritional factors from the medium. At the same time, the yeast picks up chemicals and other undesirable materials. …The culture medium on which the yeast is grown is most important since it is from this medium that the minerals, metals and vital micronutrients are derived. …Lewis Labs’ 100% Pure Premium Imported Brewer’s Yeast™ is primary yeast grown on sugar beet molasses. …Sugar beets are known to absorb so much out of the soil (minerals, metals, trace elements, etc.) that they can only be grown in one field for two years without depleting the soil.”
        So I googled “sugar beet soil uptake metals” and “sugar beet phytoremediation” and found these (these may not be the best sources; I just did a five minute search):
        #1 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10889868.2012.687412?src=recsys
        “The heavy metal accumulation in the soil after the treatments did not exceed the limits for the land application of sewage sludge recommended by the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). The increased concentration of heavy metals in the soil due to the sewage sludge amendment led to increases in heavy metal uptake and the leaf and root concentrations of Ni, Zn, Cd, Cu, Cr, Pb, and Zn in plants as compared to those grown on unamended soil. More accumulation occurred in roots and leaves than in shoots for most of the heavy metals. The concentrations of Cd, Cr, and Pb were more than the permissible limits of national standards in the edible portion of sugar beet grown on different sewage sludge amendment ratios. The study concludes that the sewage sludge amendment in the soil for growing sugar beet may not be a good option due to risk of contamination of Cr, Pb, and Cd.”
        #2 http://www.srcosmos.gr/srcosmos/showpub.aspx?aa=11340 (pdf) (page 4)
        #3 http://www.ptno.ogr.ar.krakow.pl/Pobrania/download.php?action=save&id=262&cat=fh22022010 (pdf) (they used red beets, but it’s interesting for more than about the yeast)
        So I guess to really find the perfect yeast, now I’ll ask BlueBonnet and Lewis Labs where they get the sugar beet molasses from and what city the yeasts are grown in, and if they give specifics I guess I could ask the farm for soil test results (just to see it through, since I’m not gonna doublecheck regularly that they haven’t switched suppliers, and as far as I know heavy metals are kept to a safe amount in the body with good nutrition anyway), and the trace contaminants in the water used being absorbed into the yeast I’m not gonna look into right now, so if you read anything about that, I’m curious, but it probably means pick the one from BlueBonnet or Lewis Labs and go for a walk and be thankful for any free pills the yeast might’ve eaten and laugh, because short of growing food or yeast myself, that’s probably the best bet.

      2. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Drew, Wow. That was some really good thinking, really considering even more aspects than I had tried to pull together.

        On the metals, I think that is really a legitimate point because the yeasts do avidly take up metals (which is why some people take it–because it has chromium). I suppose the makers must know the levels of each of the metals, including the undesirable ones like cadmium and lead. Wouldn’t that be part of quality assurance? Maybe I’m too idealistic.

        On the water, I guess I’d like to think they had a filter in place for the water, but again, maybe too idealistic. I mean, I know how much it costs to change my own house filter…

        On the herbicides and pesticides, I didn’t see any products available in the USA that were organic, but I saw one in Germany that was listed as organic. Organic would lead one to believe they’d be less likely to exposed to herbicide/pesticide residue. I know that pesticides/herbicides are often broken down by microorganisms in the soil to less toxic or even non-toxic by-products. I wonder how much Saccharomyces can do this, maybe lessening the exposure to these by metabolism of them during their time in the growth medium.

        I don’t know. Good questions. Kind of fun questions if I don’t let myself get too obsessive (and I do work hard to not do that). So, like you, I’ll go for my walk too and laugh in the sunshine, sending positive energy to my body’s detoxification systems so they can handle the toxins with the rich B vitamins, chromium, and other necessary nutrients I’m feeding them.

        Take care and I’m glad you commented to get me thinking about that. I should add to the list: organic, well-filtered water, and availability of the heavy metal content of the yeast supplement.

    2. Nancy L

      I am curious as to why the BY reviewer did not try Bluebonnet. I did some research a year or so ago, though not nearly as much as the author, and concluded this was a good choice. I was looking for a yeast labeled to contain both “folate” (not “folic acid”) and chromium. When I use it daily (in a smoothie with frozen 1/2 banana, squeezed orange juice, coconut milk, and ice) I find my fingernails grow, my hair & skin look better, and I have more energy.

      1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Great! Thanks for sharing what you found! This label looks like it covers most checkboxes. I like that it has chromium and lists chromium. I didn’t get a chance to check on heat processing method and glutamate content. I’m so glad you commented. Thank you. (As to why I didn’t try this one or list this one, I’m not sure. It certainly wasn’t purposeful.)

        Terri F

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Hi! I couldn’t find anything that specifically explained how they made/sourced the brewer’s yeast. The dose is much lower than the dose found on brewer’s yeast I have purchased, so not as much B vitamin in the dose–nor are there as many B vitamins listed. So compared vitamin and mineral-wise, someone taking the full dose of another brewer’s yeast would be getting more B vitamins and minerals than the full dose of this one.

      Are the benefits of brewer’s yeast dose related? Are they mostly from the vitamins and minerals or some other facet? Good digging for the future. But bottom line, the production of this sounds lovely but I can’t find the details. And the dose is smaller than others so less vitamin and minerals. But perhaps if brewer’s yeast offers something beyond its vitamin and mineral impact, then the dose would be offering whatever that is.

      Interesting product. I wish we could see a more in-depth analysis of content (in terms of sourcing and also all the vitamins and minerals contained—is that it that’s on the label?). Also interested in how they determined dose.

      Thanks for sharing the product. I’m on my phone replying so pardon me if there’s lack of clarity or typos. Laptop is better for replying!!

      Terri F

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Hi, Dina, thanks for commenting. I checked it out quickly. It’s different than many I’ve checked out because it is made from molasses sourced in the US rather than sugar beets. It doesn’t clarify on the bag if it’s organic or not, but someone asked in the questions on Amazon and they said it was. I didn’t see that it had any chromium (some diabetics like to choose brewer’s yeast with chromium), but it does have good amounts of many other vitamins and minerals (zinc, selenium, B vitamins) which are not supplemented. No vitamin B12 which vegans may want.

      My main questions would be is it high-heat processed and is the molasses organic, I guess.

      Thanks for pointing it out. The brand looks interesting; they have lots of other “power” foods too!

      Terri F


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