Brewer's Yeast, Breastfeeding, and Increasing Breast Milk Supply

A Nutritious Dietary Supplement for Breastfeeding Mothers

Brewer's yeast powder and tablets
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Brewer's yeast is a highly nutritious dietary supplement that contains protein, iron, and B vitamins, as well as chromium, selenium, and other trace minerals. It comes from a fungus called Saccharomyces cerevisiae. It is used for baking, brewing beer, and making wine, but many breastfeeding mothers use it to boost their milk supply, increase energy levels, and elevate mood. 

Brewer's Yeast and Breastfeeding

Brewer's yeast is believed to be a galactagogue.

It's a supplement that breastfeeding mothers use to support lactation and make more breast milk. While there aren't enough studies to say for sure why or even if brewer's yeast actually works to increase the breast milk supply, there also aren't enough studies to say that it doesn't work. Some women report that it helps. But, of course, it doesn't work for everyone.

Brewer's Yeast, Energy, and Mood

If you take brewer's yeast as a dietary supplement while you're breastfeeding, the protein, iron, and B vitamins may help to combat fatigue and fight off the baby blues. Plus, some research suggests that B vitamins and chromium can improve the symptoms of depression so that it may have a positive impact on your mood, too.

Other Health Benefits of Brewer's Yeast

  • Brewer's yeast may help lower blood sugar levels for people with diabetes.
  • Some studies show that it may help lower cholesterol levels.
  • It is believed to help nourish the skin and hair.

    Is It Safe to Use Brewer's Yeast When You're Breastfeeding?

    Brewer's yeast is considered safe to use as a nutritional supplement for breastfeeding women. It does pass to your baby through your breast milk, but it is generally well-tolerated by most moms and babies. However, some infants may become irritable or develop colic-like symptoms.

    If you or your child begin to suffer from diarrhea or other stomach issues, you should reduce the amount of brewer's yeast that you're taking or stop taking it altogether.

    How to Use Brewer's Yeast When You're Breastfeeding

    You can buy brewer's yeast as a nutritional supplement in most health food stores or online. It is commonly taken in tablet or powder form. Talk to your doctor, a lactation consultant, or an herbal specialist to find the dose that is right for you.

    Tablets: You can typically take 2 to 3 tablets up to 3 times a day.

    Powder: You can add 1 to 2 tablespoons of brewer's yeast powder to a beverage and drink it once a day. Brewer's yeast powder is also a common ingredient found in recipes for milk-boosting smoothies and lactation cookies. 

    Brewer's Yeast, Baker's Yeast, and Nutritional Yeast

    Be aware that there are different kinds of yeast. Brewer's yeast—not baker's yeast or nutritional yeast—is the product that mothers use to help increase the supply of breast milk and supplement their breastfeeding diet.

    The Warnings and Side Effects of Brewer's Yeast

    • The side effects of brewer's yeast tend to be mild. However, as with any medication, herb, or supplement, you should talk to your doctor or a lactation consultant before adding brewer's yeast to your diet to prevent side effects or potentially dangerous drug interactions.
    • Brewer's yeast can cause gas, diarrhea, and abdominal upset. As noted above, some babies might also develop digestive problems and symptoms of colic from receiving brewer's yeast through their mother's breast milk.
    • Do not take brewer's yeast if you tend to get vaginal yeast infections on a regular basis. Brewer's yeast is not the same as the yeast infection that you get in or on your body (Candida), but if you do get yeast infections, it may be a good idea to avoid brewer's yeast and alcohol.
    • If you have diabetes or hypoglycemia, talk to your doctor before taking brewer's yeast. Brewer's yeast may lower your blood sugar to dangerous levels. It can also interfere with some of the medications you may be taking.

      A Word From Verywell

      Brewer's yeast appears to help some women to make more breast milk, but more research is needed. Still, it's a healthy nutritional supplement that is considered safe for breastfeeding mothers. If you'd like to boost your milk supply, it may be worth it to give brewer's yeast a try. Especially if you need some extra energy or you're feeling a little blue. However, it's not for everyone. If you have diabetes, take any medications, or have any other health concerns, be sure to talk to your doctor before using this or any other supplement.

      Sources:

      Ehrlich, Stephen D. NMD. Brewer's Yeast. University of Maryland Medical Center. Updated June 26, 2014. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/brewers-yeast

      Ehrlich, Stephen D. NMD. Chromium. University of Maryland Medical Center. Updated June 26, 2014. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/chromium

      Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Eighth Edition. Elsevier Health Sciences. 2015.

      Młyniec K, Davies CL, de Agüero Sánchez IG, Pytka K, Budziszewska B, Nowak G. Essential elements in depression and anxiety. Part I. Pharmacological Reports. 2014 Aug 31;66(4):534-44.

      Suksomboon N, Poolsup N, Yuwanakorn A. Systematic review and meta‐analysis of the efficacy and safety of chromium supplementation in diabetes. Journal of clinical pharmacy and therapeutics. 2014 Jun 1;39(3):292-306.

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