Not Created Equal: Which nutritional yeast delivers the vitamin B12 you need?
Written by Reed Mangels, PhD, RD
Written for The Vegetarian Resource Group
Vitamin B12 is required for the proper function and development of the nervous system, including the brain and blood cells. The major food sources of B12 are fortified foods and animal products. Vegans rely on fortified foods and supplements for vitamin B12. Older adults (those over 50 years old), whether or not they are vegan, should be getting B12 from fortified foods or supplements. A deficiency of vitamin B12 can cause anemia and neurological damage.
Vegans commonly use nutritional yeast to add a cheesy, nutty flavor to savory foods, but B12-fortified nutritional yeast is a way to add more of the essential vitamin to your diet. However, not all nutritional yeast is the same. Also known by its nickname, nooch, nutritional yeast is a kind of deactivated yeast. It’s not an active yeast, so you can’t make bread rise with it, or use it to ferment. It’s also not the same as brewer’s yeast. Nooch is sold in flakes, granules, or powder. Many large grocery chains, as well as supplement shops and natural food stores, carry nutritional yeast.
For those using nutritional yeast as a B12 source, please take note that there are large differences in amounts, depending on the brand. Some products don’t have any! The recommended dietary allowance for adults for vitamin B12 is 2.4 micrograms. Note: In the chart below, n/a means information was not available for the nutrient content. DEF is dietary folate equivalents and reflects the higher bioavailability of folic acid in fortified foods. For more on vitamin B12, see www.vrg.org/nutrition/b12.php.
|Product||Bob’s Red Mill||Bragg Premium||Dr. Fuhrman’s||KAL||NOW Foods||Red Star Savory||Sari||Thrive Market|
|Serving Size||15 g = 1/4 cup||15 g = 3 Tbsp||16 g = 2 heaping Tbsp||20 g = 3 rounded Tbsp||18 g = 4 Tbsp||16 g = 3 Tbsp||16 g = 2 heaping Tbsp||18 g = 4 Tbsp|
|Protein||8 g||7.5 g||8 g||9 g||10 g||8 g||8 g||10 g|
|Fat||.5 g||0 g||0 g||1 g||<1 g||.5 g||1 g||0 g|
|Carbohydrates||5 g||4.5 g||4 g||14 g||6 g||5 g||5 g||6 g|
|Sodium||25 mg||30 mg||0 mg||5 mg||0 mg||30 mg||70 mg||0 g|
|Potassium||264 mg||321 mg||n/a||370 mg||360 mg||342 mg||420 mg||n/a|
|Iron||1 mg||1.5 mg||.72 mg||.72 mg||1 mg||1 mg||.8 mg||n/a|
|Thiamin||11.8 mg||9.3 mg||n/a||9.8 mg||12 mg||10 mg||2.08 mg||12 mg|
|Riboflavin||9.7 mg||9.4 mg||n/a||9.4 mg||12 mg||10.1 mg||.048 mg||12 mg|
|Niacin||46 mg||52.5 mg||n/a||59.2 mg||64 mg||56 mg||13.6 mg||64 mg|
|Vitamin B6||5.9 mg||10.8 mg||n/a||11.9 mg||12 mg||11.6 mg||9.6 mg||12 mg|
|Folate||1,828 mcg DFE||530 mcg||n/a||900 mcg||750 mcg DFE||752 mcg DFE||n/a||1,350 mcg DFE|
|Vitamin B12||17.6 mcg||22.5 mcg||0 mcg||12 mcg||28 mcg||24 mcg||0 mcg||28 mcg|
|Zinc||n/a||n/a||n/a||2.8 mg||n/a||2.2 mg||3.2 mg||n/a|