The surprising health benefits of Marmite (whether you love it or hate it)






Love it or you hate it, science has proven that Marmite is actually rather good for you.

Originally containing only four ingredients (yeast extract, salt, spices and celery), vitamins and minerals were later added to the recipe to boost Marmite’s health potential, and scientists have been championing its benefits ever since.

In fact, the black stuff was considered so essential for a healthy diet that it was included in soldiers’ ration packs during World War One and has subsequently been used to treat conditions ranging from malaria to malnutrition.

1. It can help you sleep better

According to a recent study, magnesium – a mineral that’s abundant in Marmite – can help us all get better shut eye. Scientists believe it calms the body’s nerves, hence relaxing muscles and improving our slumber.

You’d need to eat quite a lot of Marmite – roughly two small jars – to get your recommended daily intake of 375mgs. However, add it to two slices of wholemeal toast in the morning (each of which will provide around 8pc of that RDI) and you’ll be well on the way to sleeping well come nightfall.

2. It can help prevent dementia

In April this year, a scientific study suggested that the cult British foodstuff could help boost brain power and stave off dementia.

Researchers from York University said the high concentration of Vitamin B12 in the yeast extract increases levels of chemicals in the brain which are thought to protect against neurological disorders. Participants in the study ate a teaspoon of Marmite per day and were found to have increased levels of a neurotransmitter known as GABA, said to calm the brain and soothe the effects of anxiety.

The effects were noted for eight weeks after the study was completed, suggesting that the health benefits of the inimitable brown spread could have a long term impact on the body.

3. It’s as nutritious as vitamin supplements

Marmite is packed with B vitamins that are essential for good health – containing so much per serving that you can probably do away with taking expensive B supplements. A single serving contains 17pc of your recommended daily allowance of Vitamin B1 (thiamin), 18pc of B2, and 36pc of B3. These vitamins are essential for eye and skin health, as well as protecting your nervous system and helping you to break down the energy from food. B vitamins are all water soluble so are not stored by the body, thus requiring a daily dose.

As the recommended portion size of Marmite is only 4g, a 250g jar could potentially last two months, costing just over £2. Bargain.

4. It can keep your heart healthy

Marmite’s high content of Vitamin B1 could be highly beneficial for preventing cardiovascular disease, particularly among diabetics. A study at the University of Bristol found that supplementing diabetic and non diabetic mice with a chemical similar to Vitamin B1 called benfotiamine  improved their recovery after a heart attack and lowered their risk of cardiovascular conditions. Further studies are required to see if the same theory can be applied to humans, but it seems a good enough reason to up your Marmite intake, all the same.

5. It keeps vegans alive

Vitamin B12 is essential for maintaining a healthy nervous system and blood, but cannot be found in plants. This is a problem for vegans, who do not eat any animal products, which naturally contain the vitamin.

Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause numerous health problems, but Marmite may provide a solution. Our favourite savoury spread is fortified with B12 (it contains 116 times as much as peanut butter, in case you’re interested), providing 40pc of your recommended daily allowance with a single serving.

Someone pass the vegan spread.

Anything is worth a try, right?

6. It can treat your hangover

If you’re struggling with the effects of a night at the pub, Marmite might be just the ticket to help you on your way to recovery. Alcohol consumption depletes your body’s store of B Vitamins, which can leave you feeling low and anxious, and so a teaspoon of Marmite on toast can help replenish your body’s supplies in no time. If you can’t stomach the thought of solids, try the Sri Lankan hangover cure: apparently they dissolve Marmite in hot water, before adding lime juice and a sliced fried onion.

7. It can beat super bugs

A study published by the Journal of Clinical Investigation suggested that niacin (of which Marmite is plentiful) can help the body fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as MRSA.

The study showed that high levels of niacin could increase the immune system’s ability to kill different strains of staphylococcus bacteria by up to 1,000 times. You’d probably need to eat a lot of Marmite to get those sorts of results, but surely there’s no harm in trying?

8. It can help with morning sickness

Strictly Come Dancing presenter Claudia Winkleman tweeted that she was eating Marmite to help combat terrible morning sickness. Pregnancy forums and blogs are filled with mothers-to-be waxing lyrical about the miracle effects of the brown stuff in calming a churning stomach. (Theory that it could also guarantee Marmite-loving offspring as yet unproven.) 

9. It makes healthy babies

Marmite’s high folic acid content has been championed ever since British scientist Lucy Mills found it could be used effectively to treat anaemia in the 1930s. Folic acid is essential for pregnant women and anyone hoping to conceive, as it can help to prevent birth defects such as spina bifida. The NHS recommends 400 micrograms a day for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy: the equivalent of four servings of marmite.

Recipe | Make your own Marmite


  • A litre of brewer’s yeast (top fermentation from a brewery)
  • A little sea salt
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 turnip, diced
  • 1/2 celery stick, diced


  1. Put a litre of brewer’s yeast with a little salt, in a bain-marie.
  2. Simmer at blood heat, 30 to 40ºC for ten hours or overnight.
  3. Then simmer this mixture at 50 to 60ºC for 2 to 3 hours.
  4. Boil at low temperature 90ºC for half an hour. (In the factory they have a special machine for this, or you could ascend a mountain of 10,000ft, to achieve low altitude boiling)
  5. Filter though coffee papers or a sieve and cheesecloth
  6. Let it cool for a day or so. It separates further.
  7. Filter again.
  8. You then want to convert it to a paste. This is best achieved by putting it in a large flat pan and simmering. On an Aga, you can simply leave the pan on the lid for a few hours. Keep an eye on the mixture.
  9. Meanwhile boil up all the vegetables until they are cooked. Strain off the liquid and incorporate into the Marmite paste.
  10. Let the mixture reduce into a Marmite like texture. Do not allow it to burn.
  11. The entire process takes about ten days.

And two other reasons to love it

1. It’s eco-friendly

Marmite is made from the byproduct of beer production: brewer’s yeast. Essentially using a product that would otherwise be sent to a landfill, this makes Marmite an environmentally responsible product. As it has such a strong flavour, you only need a small amount to get the desired effect, meaning you can cut back on kitchen waste, too. Furthermore, by dissolving Marmite in your cooking, rather than a powdered stock cube, you will reduce your use of palm oil, which is responsible for deforestation.

If you’re feeling really virtuous, keep the jars for storage: the small ones can be used for spices, while the larger ones are ideal for buttons and pens.

2. It makes vegetarians happier

Anyone who’s ever tried to cook with vegetarian “mince” knows that recreating anything resembling a Bolognaise is nigh on impossible without generous seasoning. Marmite is a storecupboard saviour in the sometimes bland world of vegetarian alternatives: its rich, umami flavour adds a punch to any dish, and can transform ingredients such as tofu or Quorn. And there’s no need to feel snobbish about using it in the kitchen: plenty of chefs do! Jamie Oliver puts it in veggie burgers, and Nigella Lawson likes it with pasta.

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