Nutritional Yeast Benefits + Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 11/22/22 •  9 min read

What are nutritional yeast benefits and side effects every ethical consumer must know? Here are nutritional yeast pros and cons and how buying them will impact your health, the environment, animals and laborers. 

nutritional yeast benefits and side effects

Food is something we consume every day. If you’re like me, you do all the research you can to make sure you don’t hurt yourself, the planet, animals or others when shopping. As an ethical consumer myself, I am giving you all the info I’ve found on nutritional yeast benefits and side effects.

You are going to learn all about nutritional yeast benefits and side effects. This will include nutritional yeast benefits for your health and potential risks, nutritional yeast water footprint and carbon footprint, sustainability, if nutritional yeast is vegan or impact animals in other ways, and much more. 

After learning if nutritional yeast is good or bad for you, the environment, animals and human rights, you will be able to make the best choices you can the next time you buy food.

This post is all about nutritional yeast benefits and side effects that every ethical consumer should know.

Top Nutritional Yeast Benefits And Side Effects

HEALTH

Energy: nutritional yeast is good for / helps boost energy, nervous system health | nutritional yeast is bad for / increases the risk of neurological symptoms (headache, dizziness, light-headedness, loss of balance)

Longevity: nutritional yeast is good for / helps boost immunity, combat free radicals, detoxification, lower cholesterol levels, protect against chronic diseases | nutritional yeast is bad for / increases the risk of possible cardiac, gastrointestinal and respiratory issues

Appearance: nutritional yeast is good for / helps combat brittle nails and hair loss, reduce acne and improve other common skin problems

Nutritional yeast is…

ENVIRONMENT

Water footprint: unknown
Carbon footprint: unknown
Destruction: high, nutritional yeast production is relatively destructive due to air pollution, nutritional yeast production releases acetaldehyde, one of a group of chemicals known as the volatile organic compounds (VOCs), acetaldehyde is a chemical similar in chemistry and toxicity to formaldehyde, the EPA identified acetaldehyde as the hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emitted in the largest quantities from the manufacturing of nutritional yeast classified as a carcinogen (although not a component of the finished product)

Nutritional yeast is…

ANIMALS

Kills: none, nutritional yeast production does not require any animals

Harms: none, nutritional yeast production does not require any animals

Indirectly kills or harms: wildlife and ecosystems may indirectly die or be harmed from nutritional yeast production, as its production compromises air quality

Nutritional yeast is…

LABORERS

Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always accessible

Living conditions: varies, laborers often experience exploitation, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation

Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits

Nutritional yeast…

Where does most nutritional yeast come from?

The primary ingredient in nutritional yeast’s growth medium is glucose, often from either sugarcane or beet molasses. Brazil is the world’s leading sugarcane producer followed by India, China, Thailand, Pakistan, Mexico, Columbia and Indonesia. Russia is the world’s leading sugar beet producer followed by France, The United States and Germany.

Is nutritional yeast nutritious?

Yes! Nutritional yeast contains many B vitamins and is high in thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12.
Another name for nutritional yeast is nooch.

nutritional yeast is gluten free.

glutinous foods have side effects but a gluten free diet can help

Is nutritional yeast gluten free? Yes, nutritional yeast is gluten free. Nutritional yeast does not contain gluten.

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include:

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

nutritional yeast is not a common food allergen.

side effects of common food allergens like milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Is nutritional yeast a common food allergen? No, nutritional yeast is not a common food allergen. Some people may experience allergic reactions to nutritional yeast but it is relatively rare by comparison.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods, AKA the Big-8, include:

These foods account for about 90% of all food allergies in the United States.

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

nutritional yeast is unsustainable.

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Overall, is nutritional yeast eco friendly? Is nutritional yeast sustainable?

Nutritional yeast production is relatively destructive due to air pollution. Nutritional yeast production releases acetaldehyde, one of a group of chemicals known as the volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Acetaldehyde is a chemical similar in chemistry and toxicity to formaldehyde. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has identified acetaldehyde as the hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emitted in the largest quantities from the manufacturing of nutritional yeast, which is classified as a carcinogen (although carcinogens are not a component of the finished product).

A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.

Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.

A 2010 United Nations report said that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world the worst impacts of climate change.

nutritional yeast is vegan.

benefits of vegan food to eat on a vegan diet which helps save animals

Is nutritional yeast vegan? Yes, nutritional yeast is vegan. Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast, a type of fungus, and not an animal product or byproduct, therefore making it a vegan food. 

Animals of factory farming are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. Growth hormones allow all kinds of animals to become fatter faster and live short lives.

Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non Vegan Foods List

nutritional yeast may have labor issues and human rights concerns.

benefits of buying fair trade, labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Is nutritional yeast a product with laborer concerns?

At this time there have been no major concerns with nutritional yeast production but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening!

It’s important to stay aware of human rights concerns and worker exploitation that may come with specific brands.

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized. 

Sadly, many labor concerns exist around the world in both developed and developing countries. We must be vigilant to ensure what we buy is not contributing to industries that are unfair to their valuable workers. Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even experience harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death! 

Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade.

This post was all about nutritional yeast benefits and side effects.

Sources:

nutritional yeast seasoning – FoodData

Yeast – Agricultural Marketing Service – USDA

Manufacturing of Nutritional Yeast: Proposed Risk and Technology Review Amendments Fact Sheet

Stationary sources of air pollution, Nutritional yeast

EPA, Nutritional Yeast

Documents, Nutritional Yeast Final Rule publication

Adriane Marie

Hi, I'm Adriane, creator of HEALabel! I organize info for you to comprehensively see how purchases impact health, environment, animals and laborers. Stay aware because you care! Subscribe below to get my weekly newsletter with tips, new info and other ethical consumer insight.