Have you seen or eaten nutritional yeast?
It’s that cheesy, nutty, flaky, yellow condiment used mainly by vegans and vegetarians to provide protein, minerals, and B vitamins! How couldn’t it be healthy?
A couple of years ago I made a vegan soup for some friends. I added nutritional yeast for a boost of flavor and nutrition, then ate a bowl to double-check the flavors. Within minutes of eating the bowl of soup, I nearly lost both my balance and consciousness.
Several months later, I ate nutritional yeast again and the same symptoms overcame me. The correlation was unmistakable.
I’d been a vegetarian for 10 years and used to eat this seemingly benign and nutrient-infused ingredient! What changed? Who can eat nutritional yeast safely? And who should avoid it?
What Is Nutritional Yeast?
The production of nutritional yeast begins in highly-controlled laboratories, where a common yeast called Saccharomyces cerevisiae grows on one of three nutrient-deficient foods: sugar cane, beet molasses (usually genetically modified), or wood pulp. Lacking an external source of nutrients, the yeast makes its own.
Manufacturers then dry the yeast to preserve its nutrients. They usually spray it with hot gas, a process that causes thermal degradation and loss of nutrients. Nutritional yeast can also be eaten fresh (although this product is no longer available to buy) or dried with a more traditional method called “drum drying”.
Most companies then fortify nutritional yeast by adding vitamins such as folic acid and Vitamin B12. Remember, folic acid is the harmful, synthetic form of folate. Compared with folate, the body does not use folic acid effectively. (Source.)
Only two companies in America (Trim Healthy Mama and Sari) produce both a non-genetically-modified and a non-vitamin-fortified nutritional yeast. Most unsuspecting consumers purchase one of the mainstream brands of genetically-modified, gas-dried, and folic acid-fortified nutritional yeast!
Note: Bob’s Red Mill, Bragg, Frontier, Harmony House, NOW Foods and Red Star nutritional yeast brands all pasteurize their products as well as fortifying with synthetic ingredients (source).
As if that’s not enough, one major issue remains…
Why Nutritional Yeast Is Not Vegan Health Food
The vegan lifestyle means needing to find quality sources of protein due to a lack of animal protein. For many, this means adding nutritional yeast in large quantities to foods and recipes. Commonly referred to as monosodium glutamate (MSG), free glutamic acid is a processed food arguably found in nutritional yeast. In the case of nutritional yeast, manufacturers don’t add MSG intentionally; it occurs because of the manufacturing process. Thus, the misleading wording we often see in the food industry, “no added MSG”, means the product may still contain MSG. (Source.)
Glutamic acid, a naturally occurring neurotransmitter found in plant and animal proteins, excites our taste buds and the neurons in our brains. Whole foods like bone broth and aged cheese contain bound, unprocessed, and healthful (for most people) glutamic acid.
On the other hand, unnaturally fermented or manufactured foods contain something called “processed free glutamic acid”. In other words, glutamic acid has been freed from its protein during the manufacturing process. It is now an excitotoxin.
Excitotoxins interfere with normal brain function by overstimulating neuron receptors in the hypothalamus and causing the death of neurons.
This is why nutritional yeast is considered impure — it most likely contains processed free glutamic acid (source). When ingested, the highly concentrated glutamates enter the bloodstream then the brain without going through the proper channels of digestion (source). 25% of the population reacts adversely to free glutamic acid, usually within 48 hours of ingestion.
The ingestion of MSG has similar side effects to some pharmaceuticals, which can be confusing to consumers (source). Excitotoxins are known to cause long-term, serious neuro-degenerative damage, including Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease (source).
Are You At Risk?
Truth in Labeling is a website dedicated to exposing the dangers associated with MSG. They list the neurological symptoms I experienced (headache, dizziness, light-headedness, loss of balance) among the common symptoms of MSG. They also record 70 adverse reactions caused by MSG, including cardiac, gastrointestinal and respiratory issues. (Source.)
While MSG does not cause noticeable symptoms in everyone, it is a known carcinogen and damages the brain. More controversial is whether or not nutritional yeast contains MSG. My body’s reaction to nutritional yeast suggests it does. I don’t react negatively to other glutamate-rich foods, like bone broth and aged cheeses (healthful staples in my diet).
“…[S]ome people react to the food ingredient monosodium glutamate. What many don’t know, is that more than 40 different ingredients contain the chemical in monosodium glutamate (processed free glutamic acid) that causes these reactions.” — Jack Samuels, creator of the Truth in Labeling Campaign
Jack Samuels, the late foremost authority on MSG in the traditional community, includes “yeast food, yeast nutrient” in his list of “ingredients that always contain processed free glutamic acid”.
Logically speaking, when we look at how MSG develops in foods, the production method of nutritional yeast matches. It is a manufactured, fermented food, highly concentrated in flavor and glutamates. This kind of man-made food is exactly where we see MSG occurring, as a byproduct of other food processes (source). Also, interestingly, the manufacture of MSG itself is very similar to the process of creating nutritional yeast (source)!
Nutritional yeast is a flavor enhancer! That’s why vegetarians and vegans love it. So is MSG. Any man-made flavor-enhancer should make us cautious.
“Since free glutamic acid is cheap and since its neurotoxic nerve stimulation enhances so wonderfully the flavor of basically bland and tasteless foods, such as many low-fat and vegetarian foods, manufacturers are eager to go on using it and do not want the public to realize any of the problems.” –The American Nutrition Association (source)
Most nutritional yeast is genetically modified and all likely contains MSG, which causes serious neurological disorders and other physiological health problems.
Many consumers are symptom-free, even after years of eating nutritional yeast. However, MSG works slowly and insidiously on the human brain, and it is hard to measure its effects on those who don’t have a glutamate sensitivity.
While nutritional yeast contains amino acids, minerals, and B vitamins, there are better food sources for this nutrition that are not man-made. Babies and children are the most sensitive, and any foods that potentially contain MSG should be strictly avoided (source).
Until we chemically analyze the amount of processed free glutamic acid in different brands of nutritional yeast, we must base our conclusions on the evidence we have. Shall we not eat truly natural, unadulterated, unprocessed, whole foods?
Reasons to Avoid Nutritional Yeast
- Many brands are genetically modified
- Nutritional yeast contains MSG (due to the manufacturing process)
- MSG causes serious neurological disorders
- May experience headache, dizziness, light-headedness, loss of balance
- There are 70 adverse reactions caused by MSG recorded, including cardiac, gastrointestinal and respiratory issues. (Source.)
- You may be symptom free for now, but symptoms can build slowly (bio-accumulation)
- There are better food sources for nutrients found in nutritional yeast (namely amino acids, minerals and B vitamins)
If you still wish to consume even small amounts of nutritional yeast and the MSG does not seem to bother you, Trim Healthy Mama and Sari sell non-genetically-modified, non-fortified nutritional yeast (yes, they probably contain MSG due to the manufacturing process). Avoid other American brands like Red Star nutritional yeast.
What have your experiences been with nutritional yeast?
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Mark walker says
I’ve had acid reflux disease for over 30 yrs tired of taking acid reducers. Any of your books or suggestions you might have would be greatly appreciated
Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar, 2 tbl in a glass of water 20 minutes before your meal!
That works for me!
You can also use baking soda, just watch your sodium intake.
baking soda is not good for your gut. You need to have a very low ph in your gut to digest food. Baking soda will turn your gut alkaline and then the food will just sit in your belly. That’s what will cause stomach problems.
Also the apple cider vinegar is good for your gut. It will make your stomach low ph to digest food. Its NOT harsh on the digestive system. Your digestive system is suppose to be acidic. To many people are drinking alkaline water and making there gut alkaline. Just dilute the ACV in a glass of water.
Chris F. says
Hi there Mark, you will probably benefit by reading the book “Why Stomach Acid is Good for You: Natural Relief from Heartburn, Indigestion, Reflux & GERD” by doctors Jonathan V. Wright and Lane Lenard. While waiting for the book to be delivered you might also want to check out what Dr. John Bergman has to say on YouTube in his short “Digestive Disorders Health Rant” posted up a few years ago, he does a good job on explaining why your acid reflux may only get worse with antacid tablets or prescription meds. Since 30 years of doing the same thing hasn’t worked, perhaps it’s time to take a look at alternative approaches to the problem. That said, as always, do your own research and then decide what YOU want to try! Hope this helps, best of luck on your journey.
ACV can aggravate your reflux like it did me! Especially if your stomach produces too much acid. I fantastic difference in mine acid reflux (now almost non-existent) was drinking beef collagen every a.m. before anything. 2 Tbl. mixed in my morning green drink and I am good to eat ANYTHING all day! Hope it works for you!
I use 2 Tbl. Collagen protein powder every a.m. before food, in my green drink. Helps coat the stomach. I can eat just about anything if I take this first thing in the a.m.
Most people have gerd because of low acid in the stomach…HOWEVER there are a few like me that can’t handle ANY acid and more acid makes it WORSE. If the ACV makes your stomach worse then you are one of those people like me. Try the collagen.
Petra Joubert says
Conquering any Disease by Jeff Primack
Using a bed wedge has helped my reflux.
Same! I used to sometimes wake up in the middle of the night choking on my own saliva (it’s a not-uncommon manifestation of GERD, Google it). It was terrifying!!! I’m sure it couldn’t have killed me, but for 20 seconds or so, I would be unable to breathe and in a total panic. I investigated and found that it is indeed a thing. Somewhere in an article, it was suggested to use risers at one end of the bed to keep it from happening, or at least to reduce the chances. So far, it hasn’t recurred in the eight months or so I’ve had the risers (it usually happened about once a month). Fingers crossed that it keeps working. Incidentally, the risers have also helped with congestion/mild allergy issues which left me waking up stuffy-headed and puffy-eyed during certain times of the year.
It may not kill you but 1) waking up choking is not nice; 2) damage to tooth enamel ensues from GERD and especially silent acid reflux.
Glad the risers have worked for you. I think a “pregnancy pillow” may also work (to keep the upper body slightly elevated).
How to treat acid reflux depends on what your specific cause is. It can be too much acid, or too little acid, or inflammation anywhere in the gi tract (which can also be caused by a number of things).
I figured mine out with trial and error. I noticed I would always get heartburn when I had to poop, and was bloated and constipated, and every single time, the heartburn would go away after pooping. I started taking different kinds of probiotics, and bang. Solved the problem. No more bloating. No more reflux. That’s just my particular story.
Acid reflux may be low stomach acid:
Excess glutamate can also cause reflux.
Hi Mark. Check out some videos on YouTube that discuss how chiropractic care has helped people with acid reflux. Look up food combining articles, and also check out Chrisbeatcancer on YouTube (he has some great videos about how to eat, etc.).
For those who suffer from ‘heartburn’ or acid reflux. I ‘was’ one of those! Tried everything I could think of except for the one thing my mother kept telling me to try! That was, one cayenne pill a day for two weeks. I could not imagine it working so I refused for about a year! Finally broke down and took the ‘damn’ cayenne pills, one a day and in two weeks there was no heartburn or acid reflux! Don’t believe me? I couldn’t believe it either! Here it is 10 years later and still no heartburn! and I don’t even take any cayenne since those two weeks. I have read up on cayenne in “Back To Eden” and it is good for other things so I do take it on rare occasions! Mostly for circulation! Try it for yourself!
Nancy Walker says
Cayenne is the worst for me? oh no,no,no, it comes up when I’m asleep and it ends up in my lungs.
Laura Johnson says
I had horrible acid reflux for years and accidentally discovered it was caused by eating chicken or eggs. (No, it doesn’t matter if they were organic or not, or if fried, baked, etc) Once I stopped eating it, I never had problems again. Not saying you might have problems with chicken, but you might unknowingly have problems with a specific food of some kind and it’s a lot easier to stop eating a certain food than it is to take a billion drugs or magic potions every day.
I tried acv and it made it MUCH worse. Baking soda worked in emergencies, but should really only be used then. Make a food journal and also write symptoms in it, then after a couple of months, you should see some clear patterns.
Rea Hailley says
Do not mix eating and drinking. Liquids should be consumed prior to eating, but if you drink during a meal, which most people are accustomed to doing, all of your digestive enzymes, which supposed to digest your meal properly, get diluted and the result is indigestion, acid reflux. If you find your meal is too dry and you need to drink, have a few sips but not a big glass of liquid. I never have acid reflux because I keep this rule in mind, and I have told others about it who have stopped having acid reflux just by following my example.
reflux maybe a symptom of low HCL….Take HCL with meals for digestion.
“Note: Bob’s Red Mill, Bragg, Frontier, Harmony House, NOW Foods and Red Star brands all pasteurize their products as well as fortifying with synthetic ingredients (source).” is a mistake!!! If you click on the report that this information is gathered from it says, fortified with NATURAL ingredients NOT synthethic for Bragg, Frontier and Harmony House, bad reporting!
Megan Stevens says
Hi Victoria, thank you for voicing your concern. Unfortunately “natural” doesn’t mean much anymore in food marketing. The bright yellow color alone in each of these products is the sign of synthetic B vitamins being added. Each of the companies was contacted by the source’s author that you refer to. If you scroll further down the article you mention, beyond the chart, he goes on to explain this: “Unfortunately the term ‘natural’ is not regulated, making it difficult to assess the true quality of the fortifying nutrients without inside access to the manufacturing process. Currently there is only one major brand offering non-fortified nutritional yeast.” This is Sari. I hope this helps to clarify that the reporting is accurate.
Rodney Golden says
I recommend you email Bragg directly as I did. They will respond within 24 hours and tell you the same thing they told me – all the vitamins in their YT are synthetic.
“The vitamins used in our Nutritional Yeast are synthetically made as they provide more stability than vitamins from natural sources.
We do not add any MSG or Sodium to the product, there is some naturally occurring Sodium in the Yeast.
Blessings of Health
Bragg Live Food Products, LLC
Phone: (800) 446-1990
P.O. Box 7 | Santa Barbara, CA 93102 |www.bragg.com “
I am a little confused. Are you saying that Trim Healthy Mana and Sari brands do not have msg so they are fine to eat? Or they are non-gmo and non-fortified but still have msg so avoid them too?
They are both safe to use
Megan Stevens says
Hi Kori, personally I do not consider any brand of nutritional yeast to be ideal. It is likely that they all contain MSG. However, if someone is free of symptoms and would like to keep nutritional yeast in their diet, the two brands I mention above are the safest options.
Thank you, Megan. That is the clarification I was looking for. I appreciate you taking the time to respond!
Megan Stevens says
You’re welcome, Kori, so happy to help! 🙂
The issue of monosodium glutamate, or MSG, in nutritional yeast is a sensitive one. Yeast-based products naturally contain glutamic acid, an amino acid that is found in abundance in plant and animal proteins. … Nutritional yeast does not contain MSG unless it is added.
Not true – please check your information before setting up scare tactics for nutritional yeast. None of the top 7 brands contain MSG. Check your facts here:
I’m glad at least someone comes with sources that aren’t either long-dead links or aren’t directly linking to relevant studies. The only source I’m finding from the above that seem like it has any relevance is the one from Chris Kesser, who does link some things that can be of relevance regarding folate, even if it’s in a very one-sided way that I don’t find corrobated by most other sides that are known to cite more than a few studies.
The links from “truthinlabeling”, however much I support proper labeling, really doesn’t seem like much more than scaremongering, given the lack of proof for MSG’s capacity for crossing the blood-brain barrier and thereby the reasons for long-term brain damage, even before observational, long-term studies are made. The vague claims of “MSG works in insidious ways in the brain” is begging the question, presuming information, rather than acquiring it.
I’m just going to cite that blood-brain-barrier bit with a direct study — not exactly a breakthrough, but certainly better than citing external sites where one has to squint their eyes to find a direct reference to a study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19571220
Sensitivities that cause dizziness do not have to be because the brain is getting damaged — as a hypothesis, if it simply gave you anemia for a moment, you would not need brain damage before you felt dizzy.
The dizziness risk with nutritional yeast is more often related to the high presence of tyramine — an amino-acid that is known to trigger migraines in sensitive individuals in high amounts, among other things, and which is often present in fermented foods.
I could dig up more, but I might as well just suggest that one finds a site that’s known to cite studies and teach people about proper interpretation — like not freaking out about a study that injects MSG into people’s brains and finds excitotoxic activity, since they don’t cross the BBB by dietary means.
As a bonus to finding those sites, one doesn’t have to endure moving around to find recipes and health advice only to have someone’s personally-chosen, religious, black-and-white oversimplification of the world shoved into one’s face. I will eat what is healthiest, natural or not, traditional or not, because an appeal to religion (or nature) is not a substitute for actually studying the nutritional value of foods, as any worthwhile philosophy for evaluating what one should eat would have told people.
Chloe River says
Omg thank you for speaking plainly (!) and thinking sharply and separating fact from fiction , with efficiency and humor ! I had googled the subject, then came across the article and when reading the “ comments” began to feel crazy ( uh oh – could it be the effects of tyramine …?!)
anyway — so grateful for your enlightening input . “It never ceases to amaze me”(!) how extreme the beliefs reflected in a “Comment Section” can be , and with what reactionary fervor folks with divergent viewpoints protest.
This site says it does not contain msg
MSG is not good for you, weather it is Naturally occuring or not! The Author is correct, I had to stop eating bread, and ANYTHING containing yeast, MSG, yeast food, nutritional yeast, yeast extract, etc. (NATURAL FLAVORS can also include yeast), my ears Start ringing, I feel sick, brain fog, face hurts, all from yeast!! When I was a kid, I loved the smell of yeast when my Mom baked, now it is a HORRIBLE smell and I have to go around the bread section in the stores, to avoid the yeast smell!! It’s awful!
I’ve been consuming Nutritional yeast for nearly 12 years every day on my breakfast and dinner. For years I didn’t take b12 supplements, so nutritional yeast was my only source of B12.
I’m 45 and no health issues whatsoever (not even period discomfort)
Ashley Ann says
Hello, can you tell me if NuNaturals is also a “safer” brand to use? Thanks.
David Shumway says
You state:— Note: Bob’s Red Mill, Bragg, Frontier, Harmony House, NOW Foods and Red Star brands all pasteurize their products as well as fortifying with synthetic ingredients (source).—
Yet the source says that all but Bob’s Red Mill use natural ingredients and a natural drying process. ???
Megan Stevens says
Hi David, if you scroll further down the article you mention, beyond the chart, he goes on to explain this: “Unfortunately the term ‘natural’ is not regulated, making it difficult to assess the true quality of the fortifying nutrients without inside access to the manufacturing process. Currently there is only one major brand offering non-fortified nutritional yeast.” This is Sari. The author of that article contacted each of the companies. Also, the color of each of the brands you mention is bright yellow, which is a sign of synthetic B vitamins being added. Sari and Trim Healthy Mama’s products are beige in color. The chart at the top of the article is unfortunate, as it is misleading.
I’m grateful I found your article before trying nutritional yeast, MSG had a really negative effect on my hole body and it takes at least 24 hours for me to feel good again. Thank you for sharing.
Marge Teilhaber says
I have Sari unfortified and it’s pretty much tasteless. I used to love nooch so much but now that I know the truth, I’m certainly not going back to fortified. I’ll add the Sari as an ingredient but now that my suspicion that it’s tasteless is confirmed, I will keep my expectations extremely low for whatever flavor boost is promised as a result of recipe writers assuming that everyone is using fortified. Bummer!!
I have the same question as Kori above about whether nutritional yeast from Trim Healthy Mama and Sari should also be avoided.
Megan Stevens says
Hi Tammy, personally I do not consider any brand of nutritional yeast to be ideal. It is likely that they all contain MSG. However, if someone is free of symptoms and would like to keep nutritional yeast in their diet, the two brands I mention above are the safest options.
Nichole Blackston says
I’m confused about the two no-gmo, non-fortified ones also. Do they potentially contain msg as well?
Megan Stevens says
Hi Nichole, yes, they do potentially contain MSG as well. Thanks for your question.
I think Nutritional Yeast (NY) is misunderstood, it’s kinda like gluten, some people can eat it and be fine while others have bad problems with it, I have never had any issue with NY and neither has my family.
Dr Fuhrman also sells a non-gmo, unfortified nutritional yeast. It is grown on beet molasses
Sharon Reeve says
Is there an organic nutritional yeast without added vitamins? I will only eat organic.
I believe she answers the question about the trim Healthy Mama brand above. Yes,it does. But remember it also occurs naturally in foods like bone broth, mushrooms, and miso. Some are sensitive; some are not. I believe if you are going to use Nutritional yeast, by all means the THM brand or Sari are the best ………
I believe Foods Alive (a USA company) also produce a non-synthetic, unfortified, Non-GMO Nutritional Yeast. It has one ingredient: Dried yeast. I buy it at Iherb and the taste is pretty good.
If anyone knows why this brand’s Nutritional Yeast is not good, please feel free to comment. Thanks!
Megan Stevens says
Hi Christine, I think you are right. Their data on the product says non-GM and no synthetic B-Vitamins.
What about brewer’s yeast? Same issues or is that a completely different product? Thank you!
I had to make baby formula with my second child and WAPF suggests Frontier nutritional yeast in the formula. I wish I had known this:/
Thanks for this article!
I’ve been wondering about nutritional yeast for quite some time now.
I avoid dairy, and would occasionally like to try some of the alternative recipes for dairy cheeses that are made only from clean, whole food sources but all naturally call for nutritional yeast. It seems you feel comfortable with the Sari brand based off of your research, so I’m considering giving it a try. Their Amazon page states that it doesn’t contain any MSG, do you have any information regarding that? Any updates or lab test results like you mentioned in the article above? Also, I wonder if nutritional yeast from Sari brand could be addictive like it seems other nutritional yeasts seem to be for some people? I notice that when I google the active ingredient stated on some of the brands ingredient lists, even the one listed in the comment before from iHerb, “saccharomyces cerevisiae” it comes up as brewers yeast, which I’ve seen stated as not healthy. Do you feel that a drum-dryed nutritional yeast that also isn’t fortified or GMO would be safe?
Thanks so much!
Hannah Alvarado says
Bragg’s Nutritional Yeast is both Non-GMO and although is is fortified with nutrients, they are NOT synthetic, they are natural nutrients. Bottom Line: Bragg’s is roller drum dried, non-gmo, and fortified with natural (*not* synthetic) ingredients. Thank you for the other information though! I was just verifying. All I did was click on the link you added that said “Source” and Bragg’s information was right there at the top with the others… maybe it has changed since you wrote this article.
Rodney Golden says
I am sorry but that is incorrect. I contacted Braggs directly via email. They responded within 24 hours. ALL vitamins in their Nutritional Yeast are indeed SYNTHETIC. They do not advertise it on the bottle, but neither do they hide it if you ask directly. I thought the same thing that you do, but had enough doubt generated to get me off my lazy butt and send an email. They are a great company, but I will not use their Nutritional Yeast anymore. I’ll opt for one of the brands that specifically make a point to be all natural.
Suzanne Mannetta says
Hi Megan – Thank you for taking the time to share this helpful information. You say “there are better food sources for this nutrition that are not man-made.” Can you provide some suggestions for vegans? Thank you!
Megan Stevens says
Hi Suzanne, you’re welcome. I’m glad it was helpful. Is your main vegan dietary need B vitamins (or iron)? I do actually believe that long term vegan diets leave most people nutrient deficient and that animals provide nutrition that humans need. I want to be sensitive to your beliefs too. But as far as food-sourced nutrition, the best for proteins and fats do come from animals. There are good B vitamin supplements (like the B complex from Seeking Health or True Balance by NOW, but over time they can cause imbalances, especially if there are any detox pathways that need extra support; so food sourced is best or working with a knowledgeable functional medical practitioner or naturopath who knows about B12, B complexes, niacin (B3) etc.
Hello Megan, What animal food sources for B-complex vitamins do you recommend in place of nutritional yeast? Thanks very much.
Megan Stevens says
Hi Enid, organ meats are high in B vitamins, especially B12 and folate. As you probably know, you can purchase encapsulated liver if you don’t enjoy the flavor.
Your advice saying the best protein and fats are from animals is not true at all. We can get everything we need from fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, you just have to eat enough. Also organ meats are very dangerous because you are taking in the toxins that each animal has accumulated. When a vegan asks for advice it is wrong to suggest animal products.
Right on !
Why does nutritional yeast give me gas?
I think it’s really cool how you answer these questions and comments directly. Thanks for the informative article!
Pay Grande says
What do you recommend as a source of vitamin B12 for a Vegan?
Megan Stevens says
Hi Pay, food sources of B12 don’t assimilate well, so there are two choices when supplementing that assimilate best: One is the sublingual lozenges and the second is B12 shots (which I give myself weekly), best decided upon with a doctor’s guidance. Best wishes.
Terry Phelan says
Transdermal B12 is supposed to be a good mode to transport into cells.
We need very little B12 which we can make in our own stomachs, make sure your B12 supplements are methylcobamin, anything cheaper is cyanocobalim which has cyanide in it.
Spirulina, mushrooms, chlorella and only lightly washed fresh produce from your garden all help with getting enough B12.
I have been suspicious of nutritional yeast as each time I use it I seem to pass out. Then I have brain fog and unable to be coherent. It’s certainly an excito -toxin for me…there’s a high and then a crash. My family however use it without any negative effects. It’s evident that it doesn’t have a negative effect on everyone. Thanks for sharing Megan.
i never had a problem with yeast until i started using one that was overfortified. too many b vitamins built up. they are supposed to be water soluble, but not every person’s body works the same. the build up caused reactions to natural foods containing the same vitamins. i just figured all nooch is similar. big mistake. be on the look out for how highly they are fortified and with which b vitamins. i know it wasn’t the msg because one of the only foods that didn’t give me problems was packaged ramen, which is known for containing msg.
I started eating NY recently after decades of not eating it. I love the stuff and was putting it in and on soups and salads. Almost immediately I started having diarrhea-like symptoms but didn’t know why. I stopped the NY and bowels returned to normal. Started eating it again and diarrhea returned. I can’t say for sure it’s the NY but surely is suspect for me.
There is some serious confusion in this article, free glutamic acid is not the same as MSG, which is the salt of glutamate – meaning that each glutamate molecule has one sodium atom attached.
Agreed. MSG is synthetic and can only be present if added.
As per my own personal experience with nutritional yeast, I am apt to advise that women who have fibroids avoid it as the ingredients may cause uncomfortable abdominal bloating. Taking that type of bloating into consideration, I can understand your take on MSG Ms. Stevens.
I think this may be my issue! I noticed every time I eat even the smallest amount, I ballon up looking 6 months pregnant !!
Does using nutritional yeast
this is interesting. I’ve tried nutritional yeast for dairy free mac n cheese it was horrible, I’ve never had a reaction but this led me to Another vegan food that seems to make my jaw hurt after eating and mouth and tongue numbness. Its yummy while eating but afterwards is horrible. It’s most non dairy ice creams, so far the coconut milk out cashew milk, I can’t say for almond and rice milk ice creams. And then like dairy if not worse than dairy it gives me horrible diarrhea at the end.
Simon R says
Hi. Could nutritional yeast cause wind? I put two tsp of it into homemade burger mix and 4 hrs later am literally s******g through the eye of a needle. Thanks.
Bridget Schiotis says
Thanks so much for this info. I just started eating ny from bobs red mill to get more b cuts because I can’t take the supps and I got a bad headache like with sulfates and msg. Now I know why. Thanks for the info
You can accurately claim that water causes death in high enough quantities.
What quantity of MSG is found in nutrition yeast? And evidence that this level is harmful?
Would the color of nutrtional yeast affect skin color?
I have 5 tbl spoons almost daily and people comment about my yellowish tint.
Just wanted to drop a line…
To update a mistake I found in your article.
You mention there are only 2 producers of non fortified…
That is incorrect.
Foods Alive was the first company to offer non fortified nutritional yeast.
Raw food world also offers a non fortified nutritional yeast.
I hope you will correct this error.
Does this apply to brewers yeast too please?
Megan Stevens says
Hi Serena, thanks for the great question. Yes, Brewer’s yeast also contains free glutamic acid.
Do you have any good suggestions for a MSG free and vegan substitute for Nutritional Yeast and Brewer’s Yeast?
I break out in hives every time I eat something with nutritional yeast in it. I am becoming extremely sensitive to processed foods
As soon as I eat it I experience euphoric symptoms lightheaded and instability.Its like I just had a fix of bought drugs.It reminds me of epidural.Really!
Thank you so much for this article!
I was eating Sari’s nutritional yeast with the good intention to improve my health and especially my issues with fatigue. I eleminated a lot of foods from my diet because I thought they might be the cause. Who would have known that nutritional yeast was not improving, but actually worsening my symptoms? I tested it and I have little doubts about it: The yeast makes me overwhelmingly sleepy – as if I ate way too much, but the sleepiness lasts longer and actual sleep brings no rest – and I feel light-headed and dizzy.
Since I live in Germany and nutritional yeast is almost unknown in my country, I thought I was particulary aware of my health while I bought nutritional yeast online. Now it is obvious to me how wrong I was.
I use imported KAL nutritional yeast flakes which are “primary grown” on non-GMO beets and are unfortified and unsweetened. I don’t use on a daily basis, once in a while in certain recipes. When N yeast is heated or cooked I’m guessing it loses of lot of nutritional value.
Char Ortiz says
Can you comment on the brand I have in my cupboard? It’s called KAL. The label says nutritional , unfortified, 100% natural, unsweetened. I bought this at Whole Foods. I see that it does contain 1850mg of glutamic acid per 4 tablespoons. Am I understanding you correctly, that glutamic acid is MSG? Yikes – – –
You might want to update that link to “The ingestion of MSG has similar side effects to neurological drugs” source. The linked article does not support that statement.
Megan Stevens says
Hi John, Thanks for making us aware. We kept the source, but clarified the point better and more accurately.
Kathy Gralnik says
This was recommended by a health class my primary doctor sent me to last year. I have at this time strange unexplainable things going on and it seems this stuff can be at the root of it all. I caught a yeast infection on the back of my tongue called oral flush, looks like cottage cheese and it’s not getting better from anything the doctor prescribes. My feet are doing strangely as well. Yours is the third article I read about the dangers of nutrition yeast. What I am wondering is there a way to flush it quickly out my system? See I was a big cheese lover and this health class had me replace my cheese with nutritional yeast. So of course I just threw away quite a bit of food dosed heavy with it. Any suggestions?
Lois Lynn says
I had no idea! Thank you
Hi thanks for the article does the same logic holds good for marmite?
Or Marmite is relatively healthier
Great article – smart woman, thank you. I am going to buy the non-fortified Sari product. As an aside, Fortified Nutritional Yeast is very dangerous for men. The combination of Folic Acid and B12 supplementation found in “fortified” products has been shown to cause Prostate Cancer – and it’s not just one study. Prostate cancer killed more than Breast cancer in 2019 – though it only gets a fraction of the funding for research – no one cares because it’s men dying. Most nutritionists are women and have no concept of men’s health, calling certain foods healthy, and they are for women, but conversely, they are NOT healthy for men.
Wendy Gardner says
I was wondering about Marmite too…
In my case two or three times i ate too much NY (i didn’t know it) and in ten minutes i had my skin red in face and body. I didnt though it was due to NY and i’ve been eating it until now ( i read that was due to consuming high doses). Now i dont know what to do with NY
Could it be the Niacin dosage? It is a B vitamin, B3, and can cause flushing that may be uncomfortable but is harmless.
I am uncertain about the danger of the free msg. How does it turn into an ecitotoxin? Does that make any isolated supplement dangerous? Since they’re all processed and isolated?
There are several amino acids that are found in nature or man-made that function as excitotoxins. When neurons are exposed to them, they become very excited and fire impulses so rapidly that it leads to extreme exhaustion and death (of the neuron). That is the case with MSG. MSG doesn’t turn into an excitotoxin but functions as one. Not all amino acids are excitotoxins, so, no, not all isolated supplements are problematic.
Agnes Ryan says
I just had a reaction to N.Y. flushed red face.
Also had just commented to my son that my brain had felt glitchy lately. So I’ll find other ways to take b vitamins. Thanks for this info
Organic nutritional yeast is made in Germany and is slowly being introduced here in the USA. I’ve bought it from a small company called “From the Fields” and it’s not bright yellow, but more of a brownish color. It smells and tastes good. Other online companies are also selling organic German nutritional yeast now, such as Frontiercoop.com.
I would be interested in other commenters opinions regarding this information. I have also come across this NY. Always preferential to “organic,” yet I avoid the Non GMO label as to me it is no different than a GMO label. What are the negatives associated with this brands version of NY which comes from Germany?
Thanks for tackling this difficult topic. Good background for the equally good discussion posts. A lot of the arguments pro and con for NY and msg are anecdotal in nature and rely on people’s observations of their own perceived reactions to these food additives. MSG is so often misused as a cover for low quality ingredients in prepared foods and in restaurants, though probably less so these days. It is often referred to as a flavor enhancer due to its umami qualities and it could probably also be referred to as a pharmaceutical due to its drug-like properties. Trying to separate NY from msg is likely not relevant. The root chemical, glutamate, is the same once it becomes dissociated from its Na or other ion in the mouth. We probably should consider the use of NY the same as straight msg from the perspective of flavor enhancement, so in the case someone doesn’t tolerate msg well, they’ll likely have the same or similar reactions to NY. And for that reason, it is probably reasonable to label foods accordingly.
Cin Rezende says
Thanks for this information. I’m shocked. I’ve been vegan for over 10 years and been consuming Nutritional Yeast everyday since. I put it on everything – breakfast, dinner, sandwich and sauce. I use a brand called Engevita and it lists Dried Inactive Yeast as the only ingredient. I think I’ve never had any bad reaction from it. The only thing I’d say is that my bowel movement is not so great, but it depends on how much I sleep I have, working schedule, water consumption and the quality of food I eat. Just turned 44 and I did a complete blood work and it all seems fine. I wonder if this brand is a good one?
I’ve sampled four brands of NY over the years, the most recent was Anthony’s unfortified all caused bloating, cramping, and runs. My husband noticed it too. My son got something really weird like itchiness in his throat and light headedness (kids description). I keep forgetting and trying it again because it’s so popular. I think I’m finally convinced by just reading about all the processing that goes into it to leave it alone and stick with herbs for flavoring from now on.
Does bewers yeast contains MSG ?
[email protected] says
I was wondering why Bobs Red Mill Nutritional Yeast made my feet hot and headache then read your article. A podcast on gut biomes had a Dr treating with Vitamin D and a B complex and her patients got hot hands which she deduced was biotin or pantothenic acid.
The noochy licious brand is what I have. Do you know anything about it?
MSG and Nutritional yeast makes me stressed, anxious and depressed.
When i stopped eating it all my problems went away.
Passionflower tea and herbal tincture to increase GABA naturally helped a lot.
Rodney Golden says
I did not trust all of the information in the article and noticed several people saying that Braggs NY does not contain synthetic vitamins. Some said it did. Some said it didn’t. I emailed Braggs and they responded within 24 hours. I can include a cut and paste of the reply if someone wants it, but in a nutshell, all vitamins in the Braggs NY are synthetic. They do not advertise it on the bottle but neither do they hide it when asked directly.
Alex L says
Glutamic acid can be protein bound, but if it is – you don’t get the savory taste. Because the transmitter for savory flavor is activated by glutamic acid. Broth and aged cheese also have glutamic acid that has been been lysed from protein – hence the savory flavor. The protein (and thus glutamic acid) is already in the milk, but milk does not taste savory because the amino acids are bound into protein. Bacteria in cheese cultures induce proteolysis to separate glutamic acid from the protein (along with other amino acids). This is the same way soy sauce, miso, and tamari are made and how they get their savory flavor
I think your reaction to nutritional yeast is either a yeast or niacin sensitivity. Niacin (which nutritional yeast is fortified with) causes flushing and dizziness in sensitive individuals.
My husband suffered for twenty five years from what he thought was acid reflux. He ingested TUMS constantly, much to my dismay.
Fast forward to November 2021 and it was discovered that he was, in fact, experiencing episodes of angina every single day (which masked as reflux) and his heart was almost completely blocked in four artieries – which led to an emergency quadruple by-pass surgery. It is a miracle he did not suffer a cardiac event such as heart attack much sooner.
My husband was very active both in his job and as a cyclist, so don’t assume because you have a decent level of fitness that your heart reflects this.
Took some “natural” nutritional yeast (not yellow and no added vitamins) but I still had very bad reflux after taking it.
I started keto about 1 month ago and I must say my stomach issues had calmed down – I am very happy about this.
I just bought an all natural product to replace bread – made with broccoli and cauliflower. It was delicious, the first time I had two toasted and made little pizzas I noticed I had bloating, gas and just a cranky feeling.
2nd time and same thing – so I looked at the ingredients – nutritional yeast – looked this up and read about it can affect the stomach.
I am wondering if nutritional yeast is in a lot of the products I normally eat, might be a good explanation for my stomach issues.
Dona Strong says
My mom used chewable papaya pills. Only one after a large or heavy meal. No indigestion at all. She would hand them out to those of us that wanted one. They tasted mildly sweet and were gone before you knew it. Pale orange small oval-shaped and did wonders for all of us. She would buy them from Anthony’s Vitamin shop. The large bottle lasted forever! Try it, you will be glad you did!
Denisa-Alexandra Cinca says
Megan, I’m sorry to hear about your health problems that occurred after eating nutritional yeast. I’ll admit that I have never tried it and I don’t plan to but this article is so informative for anyone who has every tried of using nutritional yeast in their cooking. Thanks for suggesting non-genetically-modified, non-fortified nutritional yeast for those who still want to use this ingredient.
I am a vegan and I was unaware of the fact that nutritional yeast is effecting my neurological health from now i will avoid the intake of nutritional yeast completely.
I didn’t really read anything of why nutritional yeast is not vegan. Okay so the mainstream manufacturers are gmo and it contains naturally occurring msg, still technically not non vegan.
So just buy yours from the little guy brands that don’t genetically modify their product.
That strong of a reaction isn’t typically associated with MSG even in MSG-Sensitive individuals. It’s possible that was an allergic reaction. It’s also possible to have a reaction. To the tyramine present in NY if you have MAOIs present in your system. You might want to get tested and make sure you don’t have a food allergy to Nutritional Yeast or some other ingredient in the soup.
Thank you so much for writing this! I spent hours researching Nutritional yeast and thought unfortified was the way to go, but now I will stay away from it entirely! You make wonderful points! Thank you again for writing this article!! 😉
katrina bertacci says
what would you recommend to use instead of nutritional yeast, particularly tastewise?
I was just thinking of buying some as a substitute for parmesan cheese for my 2 year old son who’s just been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Our boy absolutely loves parmesan to the point of requesting us to grate it on the table instead of on food so he can eat it pure XD. Our nutritionist has unfortunately blacklisted it so I’m trying to find an alternative that won’t aggravate a highly sensitive bowel and that still gives that fun, tasty factor of tweaking his plate right before his eyes.