Brewer’s yeast is the inactive yeast used in beer making. It is different from baker’s yeast used to make bread, torula yeast or the yeast that leads to candida infections. Sometimes it is grown with vitamin B-12, making it an appropriate supplement for vegans. Brewer’s yeast is sold in certain places, primarily Australia and the United Kingdom, as a food--either Vegemite or Marmite.
The best time to take brewer’s yeast is in the morning on an empty stomach, unless this upsets your stomach, in which case you should take it with food. If you are taking MAO inhibitors (such as some antidepressant medications), you should not take brewer’s yeast. Brewer’s yeast contains large amounts of a substance called tyramine. Tyramine can interact with the MAO inhibitors and cause a hypertensive crisis. A hypertensive crisis includes a rapid rise in blood pressure and can result in heart attack, stroke or even death.
Brewer’s yeast contains large amounts of the B vitamin complex and is a good source for selenium and chromium. People whose bodies are low in the B vitamins may want to supplement with brewer’s yeast. However, unless you get a specially formulated brewer’s yeast grown with vitamin B-12, the supplement will not contain vitamin B-12. Many vegetarians take brewer’s yeast assuming it will provide them with this vital nutrient. The chromium in brewer’s yeast may be beneficial for diabetics. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, some studies show that the chromium in brewer’s yeast can help to control blood sugar levels. There is some evidence that taking brewer’s yeast may help to lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol and raise HDL ("good") cholesterol. This may be due to the chromium in the brewer’s yeast, but according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, researchers aren’t sure yet why or even if brewer’s yeast is effective at lowering “bad” cholesterol.
Timing of Supplements
According to Julie Garden-Robinson, nutrition specialist at North Dakota State University, supplements of brewer’s yeast should be taken a few hours before or after a fiber supplement. The fiber can bind minerals and make them unavailable to the body to use. Because brewer’s yeast contains no fat-soluble vitamins, it does not need to be taken with meals. Even if it is not taken at the best time on an empty stomach, its efficacy will only be reduced by five or 10 percent. If you do take too much brewer’s yeast, you could experience some nausea and diarrhea. A common side effect of brewer’s yeast is gas. This side effect is more apt to happen if your body has low levels of vitamin B complex.