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

A Nutritious Dietary Supplement for Breastfeeding Mothers

Brewer's yeast powder and tablets
Brewer's yeast can give you energy and boost your breast milk supply. VOISIN / Getty Images

What Is Brewer's Yeast?

Brewer's yeast is made from the fungus Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and it's used for baking, brewing beer, and making wine. It's also a highly nutritious dietary supplement that contains protein, iron, and B vitamins, as well as chromium, selenium, and other trace minerals.

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 won'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 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 does pass to your baby through your breast milk, and it is generally well-tolerated.

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, 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 is used to help increase the supply of breast milk and supplement the diet of breastfeeding women.

Brewer's Yeast: Warnings and Side Effects

  • 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, and it can interfere with some of the medications you may be taking.

Brewer's Yeast: In Conclusion

Brewer's yeast may help some women to make more breast milk, but more research is needed. Still, it's a healthy nutritional supplement, and it's considered safe for breastfeeding mothers. It may be worth 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 or 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. Accessed December 5, 2016: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/brewers-yeast

Ehrlich, Stephen D. NMD. Chromium. University of Maryland Medical Center. Updated June 26, 2014. Accessed December 5, 2016: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/chromium

Davidson JR, Abraham K, Connor KM, McLeod MN. Effectiveness of chromium in atypical depression: a placebo-controlled trial. Biological Psychiatry. 2003 Feb 1;53(3):261-4.

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

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