Nutritional Yeast—Super Supplement or Neurotoxin?
Updated January 2010:
was first introduced to high nutrition "green drinks" more than eleven
years ago. They were heralded as the ultimate nutritional supplement,
and based upon a quick glance of the listed ingredients, I was quick to
agree. Needless to say, I became a daily user of "green drinks". My
allegiance was further instilled upon completion of an Advanced Course
in Natural Healing in Southern California in the spring of 1999.
But I was soon to discover a little-known truth about the "NON-Active Saccharomyces cerevisiae Nutritional Yeast" contained in many "green drink" products that would open my eyes.
In June of 1999 and again in 2000 I had the privilege of
meeting one of the true heroes of our recent time—Dr. Russell Blaylock, M.D.
Dr. Blaylock is a neuro-surgeon of great respect and a thorough researcher and
author. Dr. Blaylock has explored in great depth the relationship of certain
types of brain lesions and their cause, and has discovered a clear link to
various food additives, which form or contain "free" glutamic acid. These
additives, which are used as "flavor enhancers" or "sugar substitutes", include
a host of aliases used by the food industry
to disguise their true identity—MSG
(Monosodium Glutamate) or free glutamic acid. Some of these aliases
include "autolyzed yeast", "yeast extract", "yeast nutrient",
"nutritional yeast", and "yeast food". Dr. Blaylock published his
findings in 1997 in his best-selling book, Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills.
was attending two natural healing seminars, in 1999 and also 2000,
where more than 1,000 people were in attendance each time. Dr. Blaylock
was one of the featured lecturers. Dr. Blaylock revealed his findings
to a spell-bound audience, and it was here where I first learned that
my beloved nutritional yeast, like its other yeast cousins, contained
"free glutamic acid". It was after having lunch with Dr. Blaylock in
June 2000, that it was further reinforced that the "NON-Active Saccharomyces cerevisiae
Nutritional Yeast", as used by many vegetarians and found in generous
supply in many "green drinks", also contains "free glutamic acid"—the
same neurotoxic compound as monosodium glutamate (MSG). Nutritional
Yeast is classified as an "excitotoxin"—a
classification of neurotoxic compounds that over-stimulate the
neurotransmitters of the brain to death. According to Dr. Blaylock,
"Free Glutamic Acid (MSG) literally stimulates neurons to death,
causing brain damage to varying degrees." I learned that this MSG is
not added to Saccharomyces cerevisiae nutritional yeast, but it occurs as a direct result of its growth and processing. Please see the Truth In Labeling web site.
really didn't want to believe what I had heard. Many other seminar
attendees also felt the same way. I had enjoyed nutritional yeast on
pop corn, in many vegetarian/vegan caseroles and menu items, and
sprinkled on all manner of foods—and of course, in my "green drink".
This stuff is absolutely wonderful and delicious! But now I had to come
to terms with what we had learned. Would I put my head in the sand and
cling to my beloved nutritional yeast, or would I be an honest health
reformer? First, I would try to disprove Dr. Blaylock's findings, as
best I could, so that I might, in good conscience, continue using this
delicious taste enhancer that doubles as a nutrition supplement.
What is "free" glutamic acid?
is one of the amino acids that make up the building blocks of protein.
Glutamate occurs naturally in many plant and animal sources of food. It
is also produced in low quantities in our small intestines. This
naturally occuring glutamate is bound together by other amino acids
that make up proteins. However, when proteins are isolated, texturized,
autolyzed, or hydrolyzed, the amino acids are no longer bound together
to each other as they are found in nature—they become "free", and
become "free radicals", causing untold damage within our bodies. Amino
acids, as they occur in nature—properly bound to other amino acids—are
perfectly healthy and necessary. However, when they become "unbound",
improperly linked or "free", by a man-made chemical process, they
become damaging free radicals.
I was reading an informative little article by
Rhonda Parkinson, entitled
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)—Pros and Cons,
where she shares with us, that "the MSG we find on store shelves is
usually made from fermented sugar beet or sugar cane molasses, in a
process quite similar to the way soy sauce is made."
began to ask myself, "what is the correlation between MSG (made from
fermented sugar beet or sugar cane molasses), which is sometimes
cleverly disguised under the alias of "yeast food", "yeast
extract", "yeast nutrient", or "autolyzed yeast", and the "nutritional
yeast" contained in many "green drinks", which is also "grown on
fermented beets and cane molasses"?
didn't want to believe what I was learning. Besides my daily dose of
"green drink", I also loved the buttery flavor of "nutritional yeast"
sprinkled all over popcorn, in vegetarian caserole dishes, vegetarian
"cheese", and so on. I'm going to discover the truth for myself, before
I'll abandon "nutritional yeast".
The trail that I would
follow in hopes of discovering the truth about "nutritional yeast" would be
like the unraveling plot of an intriguing political novel, with greed, a mix of
strange bed-fellows, and a mysterious French connection.
Now, the first stop on the trail would be to Red Star Yeast,
the company that manufactures the "nutritional yeast" for many of the
major "green drink mixes" sold in the U.S. The Red Star "nutritional
yeast" product that they utilize
is called "Vegetarian Support Formula". It was confirmed by Red Star
that "the preferred source of carbohydrate for yeast is sugar from
Molasses is the by-product of the refining of sugar beets and sugar
cane." (See their web site: http://www.redstaryeast.com/science_of_yeast/manufacturing_yeast.php).
What I also learned from Red Star is that the difference between
"Nutritional Yeast" and other non-baking yeasts (that they also
produce) is, they add vitamins to the Nutritional Yeast. From the Red Star web site: "RED STAR Nutritional Yeast is primary from pure strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae
grown on mixtures of cane and beet molasses. After the fermentation
process is completed, 'Cream yeast' is heated by means of a heat
exchanger and held at pasteurization temperatures for a period long
enough to inactivate the yeast. During this holding period, all
necessary vitamins are added to meet the requirements of the specific
type of nutritional yeast produced.
So, according to Red Star,
the high vitamin content of Nutritional Yeast is actually a result of
"vitamins added to meet the requirements of the specific type of
nutritional yeast produced." I don't think any of us have ever given
that bit of information any thought. I had always assumed that the high
vitamin content of Nutritional Yeast and Vegetarian Support Nutritional
Yeast was all naturally occuring. I had naively thought that
Nutritional Yeast was so nutritious because it was a "special yeast".
The truth is, it is grown, fermented, and processed pretty much the
same as other non-baking yeasts, but with "added vitamins" tossed in to
boost its vitamin content. I also wonder, what is the quality of these
is a "Clean Label?" The industry is getting very slick. It's all about
money. And people will spend their money on foods that taste good. MSG
is a taste enhancer that brings out the "umami", or savory flavors from
foods. However, MSG has fallen out of favor, because of the exposure
presented by Dr. Blaylock and otheres. Many packaged food products,
especially "snack foods", would taste flat without the use of taste
enhancers. For instance, compare a plain old Dorito chip to one of
their "Diablo Flavored Tortilla Chips". Anyway, the food industry has
come up with a strategy to overcome this apparent problem—"CLEAN
LABELS". The food industry calls labels for products that contain MSG,
but don't give the consumer a clue to its presence because they
cleverly hide it—"CLEAN LABELS." Please read this article by Food Product Design: Supply Side.
look a little deeper. Until recently, the parent company of Red Star
Yeast was a lesser known conglomerate, Sensient
Sensient Technologies is divided into several groups—the “Sensient
Color Group” which "is the world's leading supplier of synthetic food
colors, as well as a leading producer of natural, cosmetic and specialty-ink
colors." A second group of Sensient is the “Sensient Flavors &
Fragrances Group”. "Sensient is a leading manufacturer of flavors, flavor
systems, flavor enhancers and dehydrated vegetables for the food, beverage and
dairy industries. Selling under: Sensient Flavors; Sensient Fragrances;
Sensient Dehydrated Flavors Company." (See: http://www.sensient-tech.com/sensient_businesses.html).
So the parent company of Red Star Yeast, Sensient
Technologies, "is a leading manufacturer of flavors, flavor systems, and flavor
Let’s add up a few things so far. 1) MSG, a well-known
flavor enhancer, is manufactured by a fermentation process utilizing sugar beet or cane molasses. 2)
Red Star Nutritional Yeast is manufactured by a fermentation process utilizing sugar beet or cane
molasses. 3) The parent company of Red Star Yeast, Sensient Technologies, is a
world leader in the manufacture of "flavor enhancers". Let’s see where this
takes us. (Please notice this page from Sensient Technologies.)
Strangely enough, Sensient Technologies recently "divested"
Red Star Yeast, Inc., by selling it to LeSaffre, a French yeast
manufacturing conglomerate. However, Sensient remained the parent to MinnDak
Yeast Company, which is co-owned by Sensient and Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative, based
in Wahpeton, SD, a sugar beet growers cooperative that processes beets into
sugar and molasses.
"LeSaffre is the worlds largest manufacturer of yeast
and yeast extracts, used as nutritional supplements, flavor enhancers, dough
conditioners, and fermentation catalysts." As noted, the new French parent to Red Star
Yeast is also in the flavor enhancing business. (See: http://www.lesaffre.com/default_eng.asp). This statement from the Lesaffre web site, under "Natural flavour reinforcement":
". . .offers its food industry customers several lines of CLEAN LABEL
yeast extract with specific flavour profiles (meat notes, milk and milk
product notes, notes of cooked, grilled or roasted ingredients, etc…)
and flavour- enhancing properties (UMAMI taste)." LeSaffre continues,
"Yeast extracts are obtained by autolysis of primary grown Saccharomyces cerevisiae
yeasts." Isn't that the same "special yeast" used in the most of the
green drink mixes on the market? Is Red Star Yeast, as well as the
green drink companies that continue to use it, to be found guilty by
look at Red Star Nutritional Yeast one more time. On a
list of "benefits" for using Vegetarian Support Formula (Nutritional
Yeast), Red Star
lists the following: "RED STAR Nutritional Yeast Vegetarian Support
Formula™ is an ideal food product for anyone wanting to increase their
intake of key nutrients, while improving the taste of their food!" (See: http://lesaffre-yeast.com/red-star/).
So, Red Star Nutrtional Yeast doubles as a "flavor enhancer". Is it because it
is a close cousin to MSG and is manufactured much in the same manner, utilizing
the same sugar beet and cane molasses? Is it a coincidence that the companies
that produce "nutritional yeast" are also leaders in the "flavor enhancer"
One more thing to think about. I came across this disturbing article on the web site of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), regarding the manufacturing of Nutritional Yeast: "National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants: Manufacturing of Nutritional Yeast"
SUMMARY: This action finalizes national emission standards for
hazardous air pollutants (NESHAP) for the nutritional yeast
manufacturing source category. The EPA has identified the nutritional
yeast manufacturing source category as a major source of hazardous air
pollutants (HAP) emissions of acetaldehyde. These standards implement
section 112(d) of the Clean Air Act (CAA) by requiring all major
sources to meet HAP emission standards reflecting the application of
the maximum achievable control technology (MACT). These final standards
will eliminate approximately 13 percent of nationwide acetaldehyde
emissions from these sources. Acute (short term) and chronic (long
term) inhalation exposure to acetaldehyde is associated with adverse
health effects including irritation of the eyes, skin, and respiratory
tract. Acetaldehyde is a potential developmental toxin and a probable
More from the EPA on this topic: HERE.
You are free to draw your own conclusions.
Enter LifeForce Energy and Immune Support
addition to all of these findings about
"nutritional yeast", I have learned from a very reputable herbalist
that some of these "green drink" products contain up to 55-70%
"nutritional yeast" as the base
for the rest of ingredients! That is shocking! But if you examine those
green drink products, you will discover they are not a
rich green color, but rather yellowish from the yeast content. What’s
also shocking is
that "nutritional yeast" is a very inexpensive ingredient, (about
$3.59/lb. from your local health food store), and at $29.00 and up, the
consumer deserves the best of ingredients—not fillers and taste
Since discovering the truth about "super-food" products and
"nutritional yeast" in 2000, I was determined to develop a true
green drink supplement, with absolutely no fillers and ingredients that are not compromised in any way,
and which would truly provide nutritional support, energy, and immune system
boost. After a tremendous amount of research, nutritional analysis,
experimentation, feedback from volunteers (guinea pigs!), DayStar
Botanicals’ LifeForce was born.
have been able to produce a tremendous whole-food nutritional formula
without using the yeast. LifeForce contains no yeast product, no MSG,
no gluten, no dairy, no eggs. By eliminating the "nutritional yeast"
usually found in other green drink mixes, giving us 40-50% volume or
more to replace, we have significantly increased the percentages of
Spirulina, Chlorella, Wheat Grass, Barley Grass and Rose Hips (as
compared with other "super-food" green drink mixes—plus we have added
Siberian Ginseng (eluthero root), Dandelion root and Parsley leaf. (For the complete ingredients list and physiological benefits, see: http://www.daystarbotanicals.com/products/lfingredients.html).
By replacing the inexpensive yeast with other nutrient-rich roots,
greens, and herbals, we have also increased our production costs for LifeForce
tremendously, as compared with the competition. There have been
absolutely no corners cut, no compromises made in the development or
manufacture of LifeForce. Each and every ingredient was painstakenly selected for their nutritional value and
support of vital force, so that when combined in a perfect ratio, together with all of
the ingredients, they form a complete nutritional supplement, promoting a vital, active, healthy life. Needless to say, LifeForce contains no MSG or any of its derivatives of any kind—LifeForce is Excitotoxin Free!
It is my belief that you will not find a more complete
nutritional supplement anywhere.
DayStar Botanicals and Lifestyle Education
goodhealth at daystarbotanicals.com