Brewer's yeast is used in the production of beer, and people have taken it as a dietary supplement for many years. Made from a fungus, brewer's yeast is highly nutritious. It contains iron, protein, and B vitamins, as well as chromium, selenium and other trace minerals. It is also believed to be a galactagogue, used by nursing mothers to help make more breast milk.
Brewer's Yeast and Breastfeeding
Brewer's yeast is often recommended as a nutritional supplement during breastfeeding. It is used to increase the supply of breast milk, but it is also believed to help combat fatigue and fight off the baby blues.
Brewer's yeast does pass to the baby through breast milk and is generally well-tolerated. However, in some infants, irritability and colic-like symptoms may occur. If you or your baby develop diarrhea or other digestive issues, you should decrease the amount of the supplement you are taking or stop taking it altogether.
Other Health Benefits of Brewer's Yeast
- It contains chromium, which may help lower blood sugar levels for people with diabetes.
- Some studies show that it may help lower cholesterol levels.
- It is believed to help nourish the skin and hair.
- It is taken to increase energy levels and boost mood.
How to Use Brewer's Yeast
Brewer's yeast is available for purchase as a nutritional supplement in most health food stores or online. It is commonly taken in tablet or powder form. Talk to your doctor, lactation consultant or herbal specialist to determine the dose that is right for you.
Warnings and Side Effects
Be aware that there are different kinds of yeast. Brewer's yeast, not baker's yeast or nutritional yeast, is the product that is used to help increase milk supply and supplement the diet of breastfeeding women.
The side effects of brewer's yeast are generally mild. However, as with any medication, herb or supplement, you should talk to your doctor or lactation consultant before adding brewer's yeast to your diet to prevent side effects or potentially dangerous drug interactions.
Brewer's yeast can cause gas, diarrhea, and abdominal upset. As noted above, some babies might also develop digestive problems and symptoms of colic from receiving brewer's yeast through breast milk.
Do not take brewer's yeast if you tend to get yeast infections on a regular basis.
If you are diabetic or hypoglycemic, talk to your doctor before taking brewer's yeast. It can lower your blood sugar to dangerous levels and interfere with certain medications you may be taking.
Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Sixth Edition. Mosby. Philadelphia. 2005.
Ehrlich, Steven D., NMD. Brewer's Yeast. University of Maryland Medical Center. 2011: http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/brewers-yeast-000288.htm : Accessed June 14, 2012.