Brewer's Yeast and Hair
I've been taking brewer's yeast for a long time, probably because of some article on nutrition I read in a bodybuilding magazine many years ago. Perhaps I attribute too many beneficial properties to this natural product, but in this article I'll try to be moderate and just give the facts.
First I want to clear up a confusion about the yeast products that are sold in health food stores and on the Internet. Most of what you see on the shelves and in the catalogs are labeled brewer's yeast. Technically, though, these products are really nutritional yeasts. Nutritional yeast is cultured specifically for use as a dietary supplement. It is "primary grown" which means it is specifically harvested as a nutritional supplement as opposed to being recovered in the brewing process. Genuine brewer's yeast is the yeast remaining after beer is made. It is responsible for the fermentation process. This type of yeast when sold for nutritional value usually has a bitter taste.
Both nutritional yeast and genuine brewer's yeast are inactive: they are dried out at high temperatures thereby killing the cells. Inactive yeasts have no fermenting or leavening power: they cannot multiply in the intestinal tract when ingested. By the way, live yeast - the kind used in baking - should be avoided. These live yeast cells can deplete the body of many nutrients. Of course when these yeast cells have done their work in bread and in other foods they are rendered inactive by the heat of the baking process.
Both nutritional and brewer's yeast are rich in the B-complex and in the trace minerals like zinc, copper, and selenium that are important for healthy hair. The only nutrient that genuine brewer's yeast has that nutritional yeast does not have is the mineral chromium. Read about this mineral and the glucose tolerance factor (GTF) in the sidebar.
Nutritional and brewer's yeasts probably have many unidentified nutritional factors that have not yet been synthesized. This is a convincing reason why it is usually best to get nutrients from real foods rather than from pills. Nutritional and brewer's yeast products, even though concentrated and to some extent processed, are still real foods usually without additives. And because they are real foods with a natural balance of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids they are easily digested and the nutrients are easily assimilated. Only 10 to 20 percent of the nutrients in pills are bioavailable according to sources like the Physicians Desk Reference (PDR).
The Hair Connection
Even though the core of My Approach to hair loss is the scalp exercise, good diet is a close second in importance. The scalp exercise increases blood flow to the scalp area, among other benefits like more efficient lymphatic drainage and greater scalp flexibility. This increased blood flow to the scalp brings nutrients to the hair follicles by way of a network of capillaries feeding the dermal papilla at the base of the follicle. If this blood is not rich in nutrients (vitamins, minerals, amino acids), the hair follicles will be deprived of the sustenance they need to manufacture healthy hair. Brewer's yeast contains 17 vitamins, 14 minerals, and 16 amino acids including all the essential amino acids in a balanced and highly bioavailable blend.
The cells of the hair follicle that produce both the hair shaft and its coloring are some of the most rapidly dividing cells of the body. They need a good supply of nutrients to keep them functioning at their optimum. The capillaries at the base of the hair follicle are the delivery system for the blood containing these nutrients.
Even though many reputable scientists claim that a moderately poor diet does not cause hair loss (they all agree that an extremely poor diet does), I still believe that an excellent diet will promote luxuriant hair and even speed up recovery from hair loss, especially telogen effluvium (TE). I contend that a tablespoon or two of brewer's (nutritional or genuine) yeast every day should be a part of this excellent diet. Even though I'm enthusiastic about this product and several others like cod liver oil and evening primrose oil, I attribute no magic properties to these. But brewer's yeast comes close to having these properties. I am now getting my supplements from Puritan's Pride, a highly reputable company.
Chromium and the GTF
Chromium is a constituent ingredient of the glucose tolerance factor (GTF). It works with insulin to facilitate the uptake of glucose into cells. In people with impaired glucose tolerance, such as those with diabetes, hypoglycemia, and obesity, supplementation with chromium is important. Without chromium, blood sugar levels stay elevated because the action of insulin is blocked so that glucose is not transported into the cells.
Chromium has also led to weight loss in some studies. However, chromium did not cause fat to be lost, but caused lean body mass to increase so that more fat could be burned. The larger the muscle mass, the larger the amount of fat that can be burned by the muscles .
Chromium also has the effect of lowering the "bad" cholesterol and raising the "good" cholesterol in non-insulin dependent diabetics as well as non-diabetics.
Genuine brewer's yeast like the Twinlab product is rich in chromium. Nutritional yeast does not have this mineral. Twinlab brewer's yeast also has vitamin B12 that nutritional yeast does not have unless it is added.
A Good Drink
Some brewer's yeast products are granulated. But the Puritan's Pride brewer's yeast is a fine powder that mixes well with juices. I put a tablespoon of this yeast in orange juice or apple juice and mix it in a blender. It may be an acquired taste, but I like it.