Dear Mr. Wizard,
As a vegetarian, I have to hunt high and low to get non-animal-based complex B vitamins into my diet. Thing is, there aren’t any. At least I didn’t think so until I overheard that homebrew is an excellent source of B vitamins. Is this true? Or am I condemned to a life of chronic fatigue, muscle spasms and mental illness (which, incidentally, I’ve normally treated with homebrew)?
Mr. Wizard replies:
Thanks for the question, Jordan. I am not an expert in nutrition but am pretty handy at digging into questions and searching out answers. It does seem that people who choose not to eat animal products do have a tough time with fulfilling certain nutritional requirements and B-vitamins are on that list. Fortunately, yeast is a great source of B-vitamins and the last time I checked, single celled, eukaryotic organisms were not classified as animals, but fungi.
If depriving yourself of B-vitamins causes fatigue and mental illness, I don’t think you have to worry about this condition for the rest of your life. There are yeast products on the market specifically marketed as sources of B-vitamins, especially B12, and they have recommended doses to satisfy daily dietary needs.
The yeast swimming in the bottom of homebrew, like yeast nutrient supplements, also contain B-vitamins and some of your daily requirements may be satisfied. The problem with this idea is that B-vitamin content of beer is not constant as yeast concentration will affect the concentration of vitamins. Also, B12 is light sensitive. If you are serious about getting B-vitamins into your diet I suggest looking more into this question for hard information and perhaps consulting a physician or diet expert. With that being said, I just heard a talk on beer and health (I am in Miami at the annual Master Brewers convention) that had some data on the good stuff found in beer and the data presented indicated that most beers provide far more than the RDA given by the USDA as a dietary guideline. You choose not to eat meat and really owe it to yourself to know how to balance your diet. That being said, I don’t think homebrew is the one-a-day you seek for this purpose, but we all know it’s good for much more — good luck!