Brewer’s Yeast and Diseases

Brewer’s yeast is derived from the Saccharomyces cerevisiae fungus, which is a common yeast for beer making. Brewer’s yeast is rich in the mineral chromium, selenium as well as several B vitamins. (Brewer’s yeast is generally a by-product of the brewing industry and should not be confused with nutritional yeast or torula yeast).

Brewer’s Yeast and Diseases

The vitamins and minerals in brewer’s yeast support the functions of  liver, digestive tract, nerves and brain. Brewer’s yeast is usually used as a source of  B-complex vitamins, selenium and chromium. It is one of the best natural sources of the entire B-Vitamin complex. The B-complex vitamins in brewer’s yeast include thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7) and folic acid (B9). B Complex vitamins help your body convert carbohydrates into glucose, the primary source of energy for muscles, brain and other vital organs.  Fat and protein metabolizing is also aided by B vitamins, as well as healthful nervous system functioning. Deficiency of  B vitamins can cause anemia, fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite, dizziness, abdominal pain, depression, numbness and tingling in the arms and legs, muscle cramps, eczema, hair loss, respiratory infections, poor growth in children, and birth defects.

B vitamins are necessary for healthy skin. A compound derived from brewer’s yeast, SRF (skin respiratory factor) reportedly has wound healing effects. Brewer’s yeast has been used in the therapy of  contact dermatitis, a problem of the skin characterized by red, itchy, and inflamed skin. Other component of brewer’s yeast also has wound healing effects. Glucan, (a substance derived from the yeast), has been shown to improve wound healing in mice by activating macrophages and promoting the growth of skin cells and capillaries.

 Brewer's YeastBrewer’s yeast is a important source of chromium, a mineral used to transport sugar across cell membranes. (Two tablespoons of brewer’s yeast yields about 120 micrograms of chromium, an amount equal to the recommended daily allowance). In vitro and in vivo studies show that chromium potentiates the activity of insulin. Some researches demonstrate that chromium supplements may help patients with diabetes control blood sugar levels. This mineral may help the body use insulin more effectively and this can lower blood sugar levels. Because brewer’s yeast is a good source of chromium, experts think it may help treat high blood sugar. One Danish study reported that participants with hypoglycemia demonstrated an development in their symptoms after taking two tbsp of brewer’s yeast every day for 1 month.

Brewer’s yeast is rich in selenium. Selenium is a vital component of the antioxidant enzyme known as glutathione peroxidase. Production of glutathione peroxidase for free radical scavenging depends upon the availability of  selenium. Glutathione peroxidase protects cell membranes from effect from free radicals released from hydrogen peroxide formed during normal metabolism in the cells mitochondria. Selenium stimulates the function and development of all types of white blood cells and enhances the ability of lymphocytes and NK cells, to activate and respond to invaders such as bacteria and viruses, including the flu. Protects your body after a vaccination by making antibodies that fight infections. Selenium is a critical mineral for maintaining healthy function of the thyroid gland. Is a necessary component of three enzymes that contribute to thyroid hormone production and your thyroid contains more selenium than any other tissue in your body.

There’s some findings that taking brewer’s yeast may enhance the immune system and lower the risk of getting the flu and colds. A study reported in the Feb 2008 edition of  Urologic Nursing demonstrated the possibility that brewer’s yeast, when given in conjunction with the flu shot, caused people to experience fewer incidences of the flu. In a large, randomized study, 116 participant who had received a flu shot were given either 500 mg of a brewer’s yeast product called EpiCor or placebo for 12 weeks. Scientists found that those who received Epicor had fewer flu and colds. Also those on Epicor who did get a flu or cold were sick for a shorter length of time compared to participants taking placebo.

Side Effects

Patients who take monoamine oxidase inhibitors should not use brewer’s yeast. Brewer’s yeast interacts with some medications such as drugs for diabetes, Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors and Meperidine. Brewer’s yeast could increase the effects of medications used for diabetes and lead to hypoglycemia.

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