What is Nutritional Yeast?
Nutritional Yeast is a deactivated yeast that is grown on molasses. It is harvested, washed, and then dried to create a yellowish flaky like product. That yellowish color comes from riboflavin (vitamin B2). Nutritional yeast is used in many vegan kitchens because it has a “cheesy” like flavor and can be a great supplement to real cheese.
*Note to vegans: I love you but please don’t call your vegan creations nut cheese dips or cheesy vegan macaroni and cheese. It’s not cheese so lets all get along and call it what it is. Don’t be angry :)
Where Do I find it?
You can find nutritional yeast in the bulk section of your local health food store; if you’re lucky you may find it at a regular grocery store as well. If you are looking for nutritional yeast to help increase your vitamin B12, you must buy packages that say "fortified with B12", if it doesn't say fortified then it does not contain B12. Also, buying nutritional yeast in a package instead of in bulk ensures that you are buying nutritional yeast and not Brewer’s yeast, which is not the same at all.
There is one brand out there called Red Star Vegetarian Support Formula for B12. It seems to be a reliable source of Vitamin B12. I did find it in bulk the bulk section at my natural health food store and it did state that it was fortified with B12. But I would not rely on it for my B12 intake. Vitmain B12 is much more complex to absorb then we think.
How Do I Use Nutritional Yeast?
Here are my favourite ways to add nutritional yeast to my food:
- Homemade popcorn with black pepper and grass fed butter
- Homemade tahini dressing (recipe coming soon)
- Homemade falafel (recipe coming soon)
- Creamy nutty vegan sauce for pasta
- Mashed potatoes
- My yummy kale chips (add about 1 tablespoon to the recipe)
*Note: I usually use about 2 tablespoons in most of my recipes.
What’s So Great About Nutritional Yeast?
Nutritional yeast is a complete protein; meaning that it contains all 9 essential amino acids to help build and maintain muscle and tissue. It contains many minerals and B-vitamins, especially folate, selenium, phosphorus, and zinc.
Contrary to some articles out there that state that nutritional yeast contains Vitamin B12; it actually contains little or no vitamin B12. Sometimes commercially produced nutritional yeast is fortified with Vitamin B12.
What’s the big deal about Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is part of the Vitamin B family. It is a water-soluble vitamin that is responsible for the proper function of the brain and nervous system. It also helps in the synthesis of our DNA and in the formation of our blood. Vitamin B12 is found naturally in animal products only. Some may argue that B12 is found in plants as well, but it is an inactive B12 analog (an analog is a substance that blocks the intake of true B12).
Here are two great articles on B-12 if you are interested in looking further:
I have been experimenting with a lot of vegan food these days because I want to reduce the amount of meat that Aaron and I eat. We are choosing to eat less meat, not because I don’t believe we should eat it, but rather for health reasons, animal welfare and for the environment.
I always speak about having a balanced diet and I still believe that grass fed, organic meat is necessary to maintain a healthy body but as a society I think we eat too much meat. I would love for you to start eating less meat and start choosing high quality local, organic grass fed meat when you do decide to consume animal products.
People who choose not to eat meat should supplement vitamin B12 because they will not be able to find an efficient, real absorbable source of vitamin B12 through their diet. Also, people who have severe gut/intestinal problems such as pernicious anemia, crohn’sdisease or celiac disease should get their B12/ homocysteine levels checked periodically. There is a specific protein called intrinsic factor that lies in the lining of the stomach; it is responsible for the normal absorption of vitamin B12. If this protein (intrinsic factor) is depleted or destroyed by these diseases, it makes it very difficult to absorb Vitamin B12 and therefore you can become defficient in B12.