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Nutritional Yeast and B12

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
Calories 60 60 60 80 70 60 60 70
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

 

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