Brewer’s Yeast vs Nutritional Yeast for Vitamin B Intake

Dr. Abby Campbell

What’s the Difference between Brewer’s Yeast and Nutritional Yeast?

Both brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast are types of fungus that come from the Saccharomyces cerevisiae species. Similar to mushrooms, they are neither a plant nor animal. However, they are both excellent sources of B vitamins that are important building blocks for the body. Both types of yeast are inactive which makes them different from dry active yeast that causes bread to rise. Nor will they generate a yeast overgrowth in the body.

The difference between brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast resides in its cultivation and taste. Brewer’s yeast is traditionally a byproduct of the beer-making process which is why it can have a bitter taste. However, it sometimes is cultivated specifically for the use of supplements. On the other hand, nutritional yeast is never a brewery byproduct. It is grown on molasses and then harvested, washed, and dried for deactivation. Its taste is milder than brewer’s yeast with a nutty, cheesy flavor. In fact, vegans substitute grated cheese, such as Parmesan, for nutritional yeast. Another difference between both yeasts is its nutritional content

Is Brewer’s Yeast Better than Nutritional Yeast for Nutrition?

Both brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast are superfoods with tremendous nutritional value. While they have similarities, they do exhibit several differences when it comes to nutritional content. Depending on your nutritional needs, you’ll have to decide which is better for you.

Nutritional yeast contains less than half the calories and protein of brewer’s yeast for a two tablespoon serving. Plus, it has much higher values for all the B vitamins. On the flip side, brewer’s yeast provides more beneficial minerals and trace minerals than nutritional yeast. In fact, it presents a whopping 633 milligrams of potassium and 63 micrograms of selenium whereas nutritional yeast contains none. Please see the table below for more information.

Please know that the above table shows the average nutritional content for both brewer’s yeast and nutritional yeast. Although the yeasts naturally contain all the B vitamins, additional amounts are sometimes added by brand manufacturers. If this is the case, you’ll find this listed as separate ingredients on the nutrition label.

What is the Recommended Intake of B Vitamins?

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of all vitamins was established by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to ensure a sufficient intake of nutrients. It encourages Americans to eat a healthy diet to prevent disease, promote health, and maintain a healthy weight. To help you decide on which yeast product to include in your diet – brewer’s yeast or nutritional yeast – following is the RDA for B vitamins.

  • B1 (Thiamin) = 1.5 milligrams (mg.)
  • B2 (Riboflavin) = 1.7 mg.
  • B3 (Niacin) = 20 mg.
  • B6 (Pyridoxine) = 2 mg.
  • Folate = 400 micrograms (mcg.)
  • B7 (Biotin) = 300 mcg.
  • B5 (Pantothenic Acid) = 10 mg.
  • B12 (Methylcobalamin) = 6 mcg.

Why are B Vitamins Important?

B Vitamins are extremely important for health. As the building blocks for your body, they directly impact energy levels, brain function, and cell metabolism. They also help prevent infection and promote the following:

  • Cell health
  • Growth of red blood cells
  • Proper nerve function
  • Good eyesight
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Muscle tone
  • Healthy appetite
  • Proper digestion

For pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, B vitamins are especially important for the brain development of their babies. Plus, they reduce the risk of birth defects. B vitamins can also boost energy levels, ease nausea, and help prevent preeclampsia in expecting mothers.

Where Can I Buy Brewer’s Yeast or Nutritional Yeast?

You may find several supplement forms of both yeasts, but flakes and powders are the most popular. When selecting a brewer’s yeast, be sure that it was primarily grown for nutritional supplementation (not one that was produced as a byproduct from beer-making). Also, select a natural, unfortified version of either brewer’s yeast or nutritional yeast.


As excellent superfoods, just two tablespoons of brewer’s yeast or nutritional yeast will meet your Vitamin B nutritional needs. It carries the full spectrum of B vitamins that can boost your energy, mood, brain function, and cell metabolism. It is also low in calories, high in protein and fiber, and gluten-free. You can use it in place of Parmesan, sprinkle it over soups, or add it to salads.