Brewer's yeast

Brewer's yeast is made from a one-celled fungus called Saccharomyces cerevisiae and is used to make beer. It has been grown and used as a nutritional supplement for years. Brewer's yeast is a rich source of minerals -- particularly selenium; protein; B-complex vitamins, and chromium, an essential trace mineral that helps the body maintain normal blood sugar levels.

Brewer's yeast 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.

General

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.

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. 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. 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. One large, preliminary study found that taking a specific kind brewer's yeast product (EpiCor) may help prevent colds and flu.

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Review Date: 1/1/2017  

Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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