- Hahnbee Choi, Cert. CN
Benefits of Nutritional Yeast
Updated: Feb 8, 2022
You may have heard of nutritional yeast as a widespread vegan substitution for cheese. But this food product is fortified in nutrients that are beneficial to your pooch too.
What's Nutritional Yeast?
Nutritional yeast is a type of yeast called Saccharomyces cerevisiae. It's the same yeast that is used to make bread and beer. Nutritional yeast is made by growing S. cerevisiae cells on a sugar-rich medium such as molasses. Then it is deactivated with heat, collected, washed, dried, processed, and then distributed.
There are many types of food yeast products, but they are very different from each other:
Nutritional Yeast: Explicitly made for food. The yeast cells (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) are killed off during processing and are not alive.
Brewer's Yeast: This is alive and used to brew beer. The dead yeast cells left from the brewing processing can be consumed as nutritional yeast but not have the same umami flavor.
Baker's Yeast: This yeast is bought alive and is used to leaven bread. The yeast is killed during baking.
Nutritional yeast is the only yeast that is appropriate for feeding. It will not cause or worsen yeast infections as it is dead and a different species.
Types of Nutritional Yeast
While purchasing nutritional yeast, you will come across two kinds: fortified and unfortified.
Fortified: Contains some synthetic vitamins and minerals to boost the nutrient content. Added synthetics will be shown on the nutrient label.
Unfortified: It does not contain synthetic vitamins and minerals. It only includes the yeast cells.
Fortified yeast is the most common nutritional yeast available. It is sold as powders, flakes, and granules and can be found at most health stores or online.
While it may seem odd that a vegan food product would have a place in raw dog food, it is a fantastic source of B vitamins. One tablespoon of nutritional yeast is often enough to cover the Recommended Allowance (RA) for B-vitamins. There are eight essential water-soluble B vitamins for cats and dogs: Thiamine (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3), Pyridoxine (B6), and Cobalamin (B12). Since the B-vitamin complex is water-soluble, it is not stored in the body's tissues. It is filtered through the liver and kidneys and passed in the urine. Therefore, the Recommended Allowance (RA) for water-soluble vitamins must be met daily.
Nutritional yeast also contains antioxidants that can help against free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules in the body that can damage healthy cells. Free radicals are a part of the normal metabolic process and environmental stressors. The more free radicals there are cell damage and oxidative stress. The antioxidants in nutritional yeast - glutathione and selenomethionine, help protect cells from free radical damage. Feeding antioxidant-rich foods such as nutritional yeast, fruits & veggies, and more can help increase antioxidant levels and fight against chronic disease from oxidative stress.
Due to the carbohydrates in nutritional yeast, alpha-mannan, and beta-glucan, it may help reduce the frequency of pathogenic bacterial infections such as Salmonella and E. Coli. Beta-glucan and alpha-mannan are useful against pathogens. They stop pathogenic bacteria from attaching to the intestinal linings, stimulate immune cells, and attach to certain toxins that yeast can produce. This was tested against E. coli and Salmonella in pigs and tumor formations in mice.
How To Use
From a nutritional standpoint, nutritional yeast can provide the B-complex in a raw diet if the recipe lacks. Feed 1/4 tsp per 1000kcal or per 453g (1lb) of food for dogs and 1 tsp per 1000kcal or per 453g (1lb) of food for cats.
Nutritional yeast may seem like an unorthodox addition to the bowl, but it can have immense benefits in small amounts like with many things. As always, I hope you learned something new today & Always Keep Exploring!