Tag Archives: supplements

Which Supplement Is Best?

pillsI’ve noticed that when people are told a particular kind of supplement is good to buy, let’s say for fish oil, they often go and buy other supplements from the same maker, say for a multi-vitamin or B vitamin complex.

Caution. This is not a wise idea.

There is no one best manufacturer of all vitamins and supplements. The maker of one of the best fish oil supplements does not make the best multi-vitamin. The maker of a great probiotic doesn’t make a very good B vitamin complex. So don’t buy all your vitamins and supplements from the same manufacturer just because you think they make the best of everything. They may get a “Best All-Around” award, but that doesn’t make each product truly the best. Just improves your odds a bit.

I highly recommend that you research each of your supplements. There are many ways to do this, and I recommend not just trusting one source. Some people like Consumer Reports. Some people like Amazon. Some people go to their favorite blogging site. (Heck, some people even still ask their doctor!) Don’t put all your trust in one basket! Compile all that information to make a supplement choice.

If your doctor suggests a supplement to you, don’t just run to Wal-Mart and buy the cheapest one–or even the most expensive one.  Cost is not always a predictor of the quality of a supplement. Which store you buy from is not always a predictor of the quality of a supplement! Each supplement and ingredient in a supplement has its own inherent list of questions that need asked and answered.

After you’ve looked at the ingredients and how they’re supplied and processed, then you can start looking at costs, narrowing it down as needed to the cheapest of the supplements left for you to choose from.

Supplements are designed differently for different purposes. You need to know what you want to take a supplement for to determine which supplement you want.

For example, some people take resveratrol. One person wants it for their arthritis, while another person wants it to help decrease their risk of dementia. Well, resveratrol can be formulated different ways to get it to different parts of the body. So the resveratrol these two people want would be differently formulated! Knees aren’t brains.

Another example, of which there are many, would be magnesium. Some people take magnesium for headache prevention. Others need it for their sluggish GI tracts. These two groups of people should not be taking the same formulation of magnesium! Some kinds of magnesium are known to be very well absorbed, and that’s the kind the “head-acher” would want. Other magnesium forms are not so well absorbed, drawing water into the GI tract and encouraging bowel movements. That’s what the person with the sluggish GI would want! Each person may “need” some magnesium, but if they choose the wrong form, it won’t do what they need it to do! (Or it’ll do more than they want it to do!)

Look at each ingredient in a supplement. I’m going to tell you. It’s darn hard to get the best form of each ingredient into a multi-ingredient supplement. I’ll be reading through a mulit-vitamin label, nodding my head happily, and then I’ll hit an ingredient which makes me frown. Does that mean to scrap the whole bottle? I don’t know. It usually depends. Who is it for? What’s their diet like? How much can they spend? What’s their health like?

But many people reading this may have issues which require the best and most natural form or vitamin or supplement. So just be aware. Be knowledgeable.

Make food your main source of vitamins and supplements. You can’t out-supplement a bad diet. When I was in medical school and pharmacy school, I remember the professors standing up there—kind of like the Ronald Reagan line—“Read my lips…”—saying, “Most people today don’t need multi-vitamins.”

It echoes in my brain. Why? Because I ate horribly at these times! I lived on bagels, Pop Tarts, cereal, pizza, and restaurant Indian food. Oh! And Diet Coke from McDonald’s. And my gut started stopping. And my brain started aching. And my hormonal system started screaming.

Never once did I hear a professor say, “As long as your patient is eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, meats, seafood, and other real, whole foods, you know, they probably don’t need any vitamins.” That’s closer to the truth.

Eat real, whole foods. Find out which foods have the “supplement” you want!


Well, thanks for reading. I just wanted to take a moment to communicate a little bit about supplements. How one brand doesn’t make the best of everything. Why one supplement may be the rock-star for one person but not another.

There are SO many supplements out there. Be careful. Be cautious. Ask your doctor to make sure it’s safe for your body and safe with anything else you may be taking or doing. Don’t use anything on my blog site as medical guidance.

And please, always be careful when using supplements.



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

In Search of the Perfect Brewer’s Yeast or Nutritional Yeast

256px-S_cerevisiae_under_DIC_microscopyToday’s post will highlight concerns regarding brewer’s and nutritional yeast.  They have the potential to offer great benefits, but they have some booby traps that I think we should all know about.  Because the line of distinction between brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast has been smudged and is no longer clear, I will refer to these products together simply as “supplemental yeasts.”  As always, a reminder that my blog and posts are stories of what I am learning, and they are not written for medical advice or treatment.

1.  Supplemental yeasts may be from genetically modified organisms (GMO) and/or may have been grown on GMO media. Yeasts can now be genetically modified, so it is possible that your supplemental yeast is a GMO.  Many supplement companies claim that their yeasts are GMO-free, and they may be.  After you verify the actual yeast is non-GMO, the next question on your radar will be, “Are the yeasts grown on GMO-free media?”  For example, both brewer’s and nutritional yeasts can be grown with molasses from sugar beets and sugar cane, two common GMOs.  (And if any grains were used, those can be GMOs too.)

2.  Supplemental yeasts may have synthetic vitamins added, particularly—but not only, vitamin B 12. Brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast intrinsically have LOTS of vitamins and minerals, even if they are not fortified.  Most of the vitamins and minerals come naturally from nutrients the yeast incorporates from the growth media (grain, sugar beet, or sugar cane products), but sometimes supplement manufacturers add synthetic vitamins and minerals to enhance their product.  The enrichment process can occur during or after the yeast growth period.

It is expected that nutritional yeast contains vitamin B 12 because vegetarians and vegans often rely on it for their vitamin B 12 requirements (thus their “nutrition” as in “nutritional yeast”).  Some brewer’s yeast brands can contain vitamin B 12 too, while others do not.  Yeasts have no need for vitamin B 12, so it must be added to the product in some way.  Synthetic cyanocobalamin is typically added and not the preferred methylcobalamin, an actual physiologic form.  Why is this a concern?  Well, some people do not convert cyanocobalamin well to the needed methylcobalamin.

(Tip:  As an aside that doesn’t really fit elsewhere, light can damage vitamin B 12, so supplemental yeasts should probably not be in a clear bag for maximal vitamin B 12 activity. )

Vitamin B 12 aside, each yeast brand will vary slightly in which vitamins and minerals it contains and how much of each vitamin and mineral it contains.  Content and amounts will depend on what the yeast is grown on (beer, grains, sugar beets, or sugar cane products), if any extra vitamins and minerals were added to the “broth” the yeasts were grown in, and if any vitamins and minerals were added at the end of the process as fortification.  By enriching the “broth” of the growth media, the yeast can be coaxed to take up some vitamins and minerals it doesn’t normally use much of, so sometimes manufacturers add vitamins and minerals to the growth medium.  The vitamin and mineral content of supplemental yeasts can be further enhanced by adding desired vitamins and minerals after growth.  I’m not a mycologist (person who studies fungus), but I would assume that any vitamins and minerals present in the culturing broth would be assimilated into the yeast in physiologic forms.  For example, folic acid would be converted to a form of folate.  However, if the vitamins and minerals are added after culturing, then the forms will be whatever forms the manufacturer chooses, much like a multi-vitamin.  Make sense?

Important note:  Many supplemental yeast labels which are NOT fortified list “folic acid” as an ingredient.  However, if the yeast is indeed not fortified, then the supplement in fact should contain “folate.”  The representative for Swanson’s brewer’s yeast informed me that they are not required to differentiate between folic acid and folate on labels.  Bummer.

3.  Supplemental yeasts may contain gluten. Some brands declare they are gluten-free, but other brands do not make that statement.  Because these supplemental yeasts, whether brewer’s yeast or nutritional yeast, can be grown on grains, sugar cane molasses, and sugar beet molasses, it is important to verify gluten-free status if you need to be gluten-free.  When I called Swanson’s, the representative could not verify gluten-free status; even though most of their providers grow their yeasts on sugar beets, it was possible that the yeasts came from other sources.

4.  Supplemental yeasts contain glutamic acid (glutamate): All the supplemental yeasts (both brewer’s and nutritional yeast) have glutamic acid, an amino acid, in them because it is a part of the yeast cell’s proteins.  Upon processing, the glutamic acid may become “free glutamic acid,” similar to MSG (monosodium glutamate).  Free glutamic acid can act to stimulate neurons in the brain, and some people are either very sensitive to them and/or they don’t break the glutamic acid down well in their GI tracts.  (We actually have enzymes to deal with glutamic acid in our GI tracts, and we can break down a certain amount.  Some people, however, do not have either enough or good enough function of these enzymes.)  The glutamic acid then can lead to uncomfortable reactions like headaches, irritability, fatigue, and other reactions.

Some yeast products are heated to high temperatures during processing, and these temperatures can further increase free glutamic acid.  Some companies state that their products are not exposed to such high heat  (low heat processed), but I could not find a supplemental yeast that was not heated to at least pasteurize it.  (This does not seem like a raw food to me.)  Whether or not the free glutamic acid content is significant in supplemental yeasts seems to be up for debate.  Some people say that the glutamic acid in supplemental yeast is not free glutamic acid and therefore not problematic.  Others say it is free glutamic acid.  I couldn’t find a definitive source.  Of interest, many processed foods contain “autolyzed yeast” and “yeast extract” for flavor enhancement.  These often take the leftovers from true brewer’s yeast made on hops, break down the cell walls of the yeasts with enzyme, and use the peptides and cell wall constituents (including the now free glutamic acid) for flavoring.  These are basically equivalent to MSG.

5.  Supplemental yeasts can cause cross reactions in yeast and/or mold-sensitive people. Some people ask if these supplemental yeasts will make their Candida and yeast infections worse.  No.  They are inactive yeasts and cannot.  However, if people’s immune systems and gastrointestinal systems are very sensitive to yeasts, they may have a negative reaction!  It’s not that the yeast is growing in them, but due to a cross-reaction.  The body has learned to react to the yeast proteins (epitopes) in say, Candida albicans, and there will be yeast proteins in the supplement which can mirror Candida’s proteins.  Usually, if a person does poorly with something like kombucha (remember from an earlier post, it is just a strain of the same yeast), there’s a good chance they’ll do poorly with these yeast supplements.

6.  Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis Concerns: Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis patients have antibodies to Saccharomyces cerevisiae, particularly Crohn’s patients, so they should practice caution in trying supplements from these supplemental yeasts.

7.  Monoamine oxidase inhibitors and Demerol drug interaction: Patients on monoamine oxidase inhibitor drugs for depression (or other indications) and/or Demerol should avoid these yeasts.  Supplemental yeasts have high levels of the amino acid tyramine which can interact with monoamine oxidase inhibitor type medicines.

Closing:  Despite being the same type of yeast, each supplement is NOT the same!  Please know that you MUST treat each supplement, whether it is brewer’s yeast or nutritional yeast, on an individual basis.  And one supplemental yeast that is good for Tom will not be good for Joe.  No matter what anyone says.

Next post, I believe, will summarize the points in this post before I then move on to why people use these products and what I found to support or refute the touted benefits.

Sources to follow at end of the series.  There are a lot.  In the meantime, please, if you want to know a source—ask!  I don’t mind.  Questions, comments, and corrections welcomed.


Sorting Out Brewer’s Yeast and Nutritional Yeast

256px-S_cerevisiae_under_DIC_microscopyWelcome and good day!  I’m continuing to write up my studies on brewer’s and nutritional yeasts as supplements.  (Don’t use this as medical or treatment advice.)  They are very, very similar products, and today I hope to clarify how they are alike and how they are different (as I understand it).  The distinctions between the two are muddier than a farm boy’s boots in the springtime.  Many supplemental items called “brewer’s yeast” are prepared in the same fashion now as “nutritional yeast,” and there seems to be no standard on what it takes to be called “brewer’s yeast” or “nutritional yeast.”  Where once only nutritional yeast had vitamin B 12, now both may.  Or may not.  If ever reading labels was important, it is crucial in the case of brewer’s and nutritional yeast.  I can’t stress that enough.

I’m sorry for stating the obvious.  Brewer’s yeasts and nutritional yeasts are yeasts.  Yeasts are fungi (plural of fungus), like the mushrooms you eat and the molds you clean out of your shower, but yeasts have just one cell.  They are everywhere, occurring naturally on the skin of fruits (like grapes and plums), circulating in the air (like those captured to make a true local sourdough bread), populating the soil, and even residing in and on us.  As a kid, I was always fascinated by the strange fact that fungi are neither plants nor animals.  (The human brain is always trying to box things, isn’t it?)  Humans figured out the advantages of domesticating yeasts, and thus we have wine, beer, and bread.  Yeasts metabolize sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide.  Yeasts need a lot of the same vitamins and minerals we need to survive and reproduce, like most, but not all, of the B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, and folate).

Brewer’s yeasts and nutritional yeasts are in fact the same yeast.  They are both Saccharomyces cerevisiae.  You may read that brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast are different things.  We will get to their differences later, but for now let’s talk about their same-ness.  They are both the yeast called Saccharomyces cerevisiae (S. cerevisiae).  The same yeast is used to make brewer’s yeast supplements AND nutritional yeast supplements—the same.  This versatile yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae can be used to brew beer, bake bread, and ferment sweetened tea to kombucha, although other yeasts and bacteria can be used along with it to develop desired characteristics of specific foods or drinks.  (Saccaromyces boulardii in kombucha is a strain of S. cerevisiae.)  Different strains of S. cerevisiae exist, and these different strains are very important for imparting different flavors and qualities to the products they are used to create.

When sold as supplements, brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast are inactivated, unlike the active yeasts used to make bread (baker’s yeast), beer (brewer’s yeast), and kombucha (S. boulardii).  The supplement forms are not “alive.”  The yeasts used for supplements are cultured and then they are inactivated, dried and ground up.  They cannot reproduce, and they cannot cause any type of infection.  You could not use the supplement called “brewer’s yeast” to make a home-brewed beer.  It couldn’t do it.  It is not alive.  You would need an active form of brewer’s yeast.  The yeasts needed for brewing beer, kombucha, and making bread must be live forms, termed “active yeasts.”  The loose terminology makes understanding a bit challenging.  When you read terms such as Saccharomyces and brewer’s yeast, you need to determine if active or inactive yeasts are being discussed!  Saccharomyces can be sold as a probiotic, in which case it is alive, but it is not “brewer’s yeast” or “nutritional yeast,” even though it is the same organism.  Another term you may come across is “spent yeast”; this refers to a yeast that has not been inactivated, but it has been “used” to do a job (like make beer).

  • Active yeasts: Live and able to reproduce. Capable of doing their jobs in food production.
  • Inactive yeasts: Not live and not capable of reproduction.
  • Spent yeasts: Yeasts that have been used to produce food and drink and are no longer needed.  Some brewer’s yeast supplements are made from spent yeast.  Some spent yeast goes to livestock.  It is usually very bitter and requires de-bittering for consumption.
  • Brewer’s yeast:
    1.  It can refer to live S. cerevisiae to be used for brewing.
    2.  It can be spent brewer’s yeast (S. cerevisiae) that is deactivated and ground for supplements.
    3.  It can refer to primary grown S. cerevisiae that is called brewer’s yeast.  (See more below.)
  • Nutritional yeast: S. cerevisiae that is grown primarily for supplemental use (so it has been inactivated and ground up), mostly on sugar beet or sugar cane products (molasses).  Usually this name implies that vitamin B 12 was added.

Brewer’s yeasts and nutritional yeasts used for supplements are now usually “primary grown.”  Primary grown refers to the idea that these Saccharomyces yeasts were grown specifically to be made into supplements.  Brewer’s yeast has been used for a long time as a supplement.  At first, it was available only as a by-product of brewing beer, and its nutritional highlights were second to the flavor of the beer it produced—kind of a lucky chance find!  Nutrition in waste.  To taste palatable, it had to have the bitter flavor removed.  Now, however, supplemental brewer’s yeast is often grown specifically (primary grown) for use as a supplement, and much thought is given to its nutritional content and taste!  Despite its name and history, it is no longer solely grown in beer and unless it has been, will not require de-bittering.  Nutritional yeast, as far as I could find, has only been grown for supplementation purposes (primary grown).

Brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast can be grown using different plant derivatives:  sugar beets, sugar beet molasses, sugar cane molasses, barley, and malt.  Brewer’s yeast can be grown on any of these, and so you must clarify which is used, particularly if you have issues with gluten!  Nutritional yeast is usually broadly categorized as gluten-free because it is usually grown on sugar beets, sugar beet molasses, or sugar cane molasses–not grain.  However, I think it is vitally important that you verify gluten status with the supplement maker, whether you are using brewer’s yeast or nutritional yeast.  I don’t think you can be too careful.  For example, I purchased some Swanson’s brewer’s yeast, and its internet ad stated it was made from sugar beets.  Gluten-free, right?  (Wrong.)  The container I received did not state “gluten-free,” so I called to determine its status.  The woman told me they could not verify that it was gluten-free because they get their yeast from different producers, and it is possible that some could have been grown on grains.

If you are taking either brewer’s yeast or nutritional yeast to get a specific nutrient, such as chromium or vitamin B 12, it is crucially important that you read the label.  Traditionally, brewer’s yeast was rich in chromium, but the newer supplemental brewer’s yeasts which are primary grown may not even have chromium!  (Usually, nutritional yeast does not have chromium.)  Many vegans rely on nutritional yeast for vitamin B 12, but unless the container specifically says that it has vitamin B 12, it cannot be counted on!  Do not assume that all nutritional yeasts have vitamin B 12.  Do not assume that all brewer’s yeasts have chromium.  Read every label, every time.

There is so much more to share!  In the next post(s), I’d like to discuss more specifics about the nutritional content of these supplemental yeasts and some additional points to consider (glutamates and GMO issues).  Until then, take good care!


A note on sources:  I cannot count the numerous sources I read to piece this information together.  At the end of the series, I am going to list all the pertinent sources.  They take up a lot of space, and so I don’t want them on each post.  However, feel free, at this time before I have the sources listed, to ask me where to find a piece of information.  I don’t mind.

Brewer’s Yeast and Nutritional Yeast

256px-S_cerevisiae_under_DIC_microscopyWow! Contradictory statements abound out there about brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast.  Why does there have to be so much contradictory information?  (Topic change:  This makes me think fondly of my dad.  My dad would answer, “Just to make you ask stupid questions.”  Anyone else get that line as a kid?)  I had to try to sort this supplemental yeast thing out for myself, and I thought I’d type it up.  The next post or two will be about brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast supplements.  I have not blogged for the last month due to a wonderful family vacation and due to the vaccination wars, which caused me to continue reading on vaccines.  If you think you have vaccines all figured out, whichever side you are on, you are sadly mistaken.  The lines are gray.  Or is it grey?

What are brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast?

Usually, in health circles, when people talk about brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast, they are talking about yeasts which have been grown, inactivated and ground up specifically for use as a supplement.  They are typically distributed in powder form to sprinkle on food and drink, but they can also be used in pill form.  Proponents of nutritional yeast seem to argue that nutritional yeast is a distinctly different entity from brewer’s yeast.  Historically, from a nutritional standpoint, that idea has some truth.  However, in today’s world, I would argue that the lines have become crossed, tangled, and blurred, and this statement is false.  Microbiologically, they are one and the same.

I became interested in supplemental brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast when I read Minding Your Mitochondria by Terry Wahls, MD and also when I read up on folate and methyltetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) disorders, which actually are pretty common in the general population.  These supplemental yeasts are powerhouses of vitamins and minerals in food-like form.  Did you read that?  Food-like form.  Aaaah.  Food.  Anytime you don’t have to pop a pill and can eat food instead is nice.  But let’s carry on.  Even if they are not pills, they are still supplements which should be examined for their risks and benefits.  (Don’t use anything in this post or on this blog for medical advice.  Run everything by your doctor to make sure it will not harm you.  Supplements, even natural ones, can be harmful.)

Anecdotal Medicine

It is VERY fun to read anecdotes on the internet.  People are generous with their comments and reports.  When I start researching a supplement or topic, I like to read Amazon reviews, visit forums, and scour blogs to read all the reports and information (and MIS-information) out there.  I read the five stars and the one stars and all the stars in-between stars and the weird and sketchy stuff (what I love to call “the voodoo”).  I try not to accept any of this information as truth or non-truth until I have done my research, even if I read it in Wheat Belly and Grain Brain (where it’s all correct, you know)  or on Dr. Oz (where it’s all wrong, you know).  As I read the anecdotes, I explore all around and see what primary research exists to substantiate and refute some of these stories.   Sometimes, in opposite fashion, I see a supplement in a primary research article which then sends me to forums, blogs, and Amazon reviews.  My research usually (maybe always) requires me to brush up on some “basic science” (chemistry, microbiology, physiology, plant biology, and so on).  Anyhow, the point of this is to tell you what I found for anecdotes when I browsed around the internet regarding nutritional yeasts and why I even read them.  Anecdotes often give me super leads to buried research that already exists, and in the case of supplemental yeasts, my findings were NO different.

Internet anecdotes:  Who reported using brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast and why?

Upon skipping through the halls of the internet, I found that users of supplemental yeasts were:

  • People who wanted a strong source of B vitamins and minerals in a “food-type form” rather than a synthetic vitamin.
  • People who were vegan and wanted vitamin B 12. (Please note now, and I will elaborate later, that not all supplemental yeasts contain vitamin B 12.  Read all your labels.)
  • People who were diabetic and wanted chromium to help regulate blood sugars.
  • People who wanted their hair and/or fingernails to grow and shine.
  • People who wanted their pets’ fur to grow and shine.
  • People who wanted more energy.
  • Lactating women who wanted to improve milk production.
  • People who wanted to repel mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks naturally—both away from them and from their animals.
  • People who were looking to get more amino acids and protein.
  • People who wanted to relieve acne.
  • People who were sick often and wanted to support their immune system.

Today’s Closing Thoughts

I never thought I’d be researching this kind of stuff. Mosquito repellant?  Isn’t that Deep Woods Off?  Relieve acne?  Isn’t that Retin-A cream?   Control blood sugar?  Isn’t that insulin?  The idea of “supplements” gives me two feelings:  1)  That I’m becoming my grandma and 2) That I’m some kind of health freak.  I never wanted to be a health freak.  I just wanted my GI tract to move and my head to be clear and not achy (after I realized those tension headaches were related to food).  But let’s move on.  On we will move.  Next post I will type up more details on brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast for those who want to get to the bottom of the contradictory posts elsewhere on the internet.

Have a great day!  Help someone today, including yourself!  And never forget that there are two sides to every story.  Always make it such that you are informed enough to “walk around the elephant.”