Fact Checked

What Is the Difference between Nutritional Yeast and Brewer's Yeast?

Anna B. Smith
Anna B. Smith

Nutritional yeast and brewer's yeast have separate nutrient profiles and are produced in different ways. These two supplements contain many of the same beneficial nutrients, such as vitamin A, fiber, and folic acid. They contain differing amounts of the B vitamin complex and it is important for consumers to select carefully.

Nutritional yeast and brewer's yeast are both excellent sources of protein. These supplements are frequently recommended by doctors for those eating a vegetarian or vegan diet, which contains no natural forms of animal protein. Both types of yeast are manufactured from the fungus known as saccharomyces cerevisiae, which grows and ferments on sugar canes. Nutritional yeast is produced specifically for the purpose of becoming a nutritional supplement. Saccharomyces cerevisiae is also used by brewers to ferment their beer, and brewer's yeast is harvested as a byproduct of this process.

The fungus used to make both types of yeast grows on sugar cane.
The fungus used to make both types of yeast grows on sugar cane.

Not all nutritional yeast and brewer's yeast products naturally contain B vitamins. B vitamins include thiamine, niacin, and riboflavin, as well as vitamin B6 and B12, all of which are important in converting different types of food into energy. These vitamins are known to boost an individual's energy and help improve the functioning of the immune system. Brewer's yeast does not naturally contain vitamin B12 and most nutritional yeast products do not either. Both brewer's yeast and nutritional yeast must be fortified with it. It is not recommended therefore that those deficient in vitamin B12 rely solely on nutritional yeast for this important vitamin that is vital in the functioning of the body's nervous system and in helping maintain healthy brain pathways.

Brewer's yeast.
Brewer's yeast.

Though it is lacking in vitamin B12, brewer's yeast contains the added nutrient chromium, which cannot be found in nutritional yeast. Chromium has been shown in scientific studies to lower the amount of glucose present in the blood stream, and can be beneficial for those suffering from certain types of diabetes. This supplement is frequently recommended by doctors for individuals with more serious forms of diabetes, in addition to regular medication, to help control their blood sugar.

Nutritional yeast tablets.
Nutritional yeast tablets.

Unique flavoring is a distinct characteristic of nutritional yeast and brewer's yeast. Nutritional yeast is similar to crumbled cheese or a whole grain in appearance. Its flavoring is mild and somewhat similar to cheese, making it a popular additive for popcorn, salads, and other food items by those who take it daily. Brewer's yeast is very strong and bitter in taste, and is typically sold in pill form or as a liquid that can be added to other beverages.

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Discussion Comments


@bluedolphin-- I've never heard about this, but I'm assuming that it's nutritional yeast, since this is more commonly taken as a nutritional supplement. You should check with your doctor.


Brewer's yeast is great for skin because of its chromium content. I suffer from acne and hyper-pigmentation and started taking nutritional yeast to see if it would help. I saw a little bit of improvement probably from the vitamins. When I finished the package and went back to the store for more, I saw a brewer's yeast supplement and bought that instead, not knowing they are different.

After two weeks, there was an incredible improvement in my skin. My acne cleared up and my hyper-pigmentation was less apparent. This is when I looked up the difference between nutritional yeast and brewer's yeast and saw that brewer's yeast has chromium. I guess it's the chromium that's beneficial for skin problems.

Which type of yeast is the one that increases breast milk in mothers?

I remember someone telling me that yeast increases breast milk but I don't remember if it was nutritional yeast or brewer's yeast.

Does anyone know? I plan on taking it because I'm breastfeeding but I don't have as much milk as I would like to have.

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