nutritional yeast

Understanding nutritional yeast and how to use it – The story of Thiamine

Thiamine also known as Vitamin B1 is very important for the functioning of Autonomic Nervous System. It is a key component to enhance brain functioning. Nutritional yeast contains high amount of Vitamin B1. For vegans who are following keto diet, nutritional yeast becomes the only source of vitamin B1 left.

The short version

Nutritional Yeast is an inactive microbe which is rich is minerals, amino acids and Vitamin B1. People who are vegans or those who follow keto diet avoid whole grains, red meats, eggs, milk and nuts which are important sources of Vitamin B1 or Thiamine. Deficiency leads to anxiety, fear, nervousness and stress. Intake of nutritional yeast boosts levels of Thiamine which reduces panic attacks, removes jittery-ness, helps you to calm down just before you sleep. Deficiency of Vitamin B1 is the main cause for elevated heart rate and palpitations. If you have low tolerance to stress and get irritated very easily, then you are deficient of Thiamine.

Thiamine is the key to convert food into energy. So deficiency of Vitamin B1 will lead to chronic fatigue. This deficiency is also common to people who consume alcohol.

Discovery of Vitamin B1 aka Thiamine

In 1884 a Japanese physician discovered a rare illness in sailors who ate white rice at sea. At the same time two Dutch scientists carried out experiments on chicken and fed two groups with polished and unpolished rice respectively and discovered that the chickens who fed on polished rice suffered from the problem of leg paralysis. Thiamine was discovered in the outer layers of rice which is removed while it is polished. But that is not the only source of thiamine. In fact it is found across large types of food.

Food rich in Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

Vitamin B1 is found naturally in a large variety of foods.

Non Vegetarian Sources

  • All red meats like Pork. Liver is loaded with Thiamine.
  • Fish such a salmon are rich in Vitamin B1
  • Eggs

Whole grains and dals

  • Jowar, Bajra, Ragi (Nachni)
  • Oats
  • Unpolished white rice
  • Brown rice
  • Chawli (lobbia), Chana Dal, Masoor Dal, Moong Dal, Kidney beans

Nuts and seeds

  • Peanuts, walnuts or akhrot, Pistachios
  • Flaxseeds, sesame seeds or til, sunflower seeds


  • Milk
  • Leafy vegetables which are dark in colour
  • Green peas and capsicum
  • Oranges

This list is by no means comprehensive. Whole wheat grain too is an important source of Vitamin B1.

Deficiency of Vitamin B1 and what does it affect

Firstly let us understand if Vitamin B1 is so abundant, can anyone get deficient of it. Vitamin B1 is water soluble. Unlike Vitamin D which is fat soluble, means that it can be stored in the body along with the fat for a long duration. Water soluble vitamins get flushed out from the body along with water. Liver also stores very small amount of Vitamin B1. That is why we have to consume large amount of Vitamin B1 rich food on daily basis for our body needs.

For vegans, the main source of Vitamin B1 is cut off which is meat, eggs, milk and nuts. For people who follow keto diet whole grains and fruits are strict no. Also if you diet is rich in carbohydrates, you have a tendency to go into deficiency of Vitamin B1. Processed flour and commercially made bread does not contain enough Vitamin B1.

Deficiency of Thiamine or B1 straightway hits our ability to sense and think. It disorients you which leads to lack of clarity and confusion. This deficiency is directly responsible for causing anxiety and nervousness. It leads to stress and panic attack. If you have elevated heart rate or palpitations, deficiency of thiamine might be the culprit. It will also lead to either loss of appetited or increased food cravings. Deficiency of Vitamin B1 leads to problems with the functioning of Autonomic Nervous System.

People who are short tempered or jittery. Those who have low tolerance to stress and get irritated quickly are all likelihood deficient in thiamine.

Nutritional Yeast and how to use it

Firstly understand nutritional yeast is not active. It has nothing to do with the yeast which is responsible for infections. It is also different from bakers yeast which is the active version. Microbes are factories who create vitamins as end product. While selecting nutritional yeast make sure you opt for the correct version. Companies use artificial vitamin B and term it as fortified nutritional yeast. The other option is unfortified version which contains naturally occurring vitamin B1. Unfortified versions are expensive because the process of extraction is a bit longer. Nutritional yeast is a bit cheesy and nutty in flavor. Not too many people are fans of the taste. You can use it as a sprinkling on salad or similar food. In case you consume tablets, you should chew them before swallowing.

Nutritional yeast contains complete amino acids package which helps your hair and skin. It contains minerals like selenium which is responsible for T4 to T3 conversion, zinc and copper to boost the immune system, chromium to help blood sugar.

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