Vitamin C is essential for being healthy. However, in some cases, a low carb diet, for example, may cause a deficiency in vitamin C. Luckily there are ways to incorporate vitamin C into a diet, even for those on the keto diet (the Body Reboot book explains everything there is about this amazing low carb, high fat diet). A keto diet has multiple health benefits, but it’s still important to keep track of vitamin intake and make sure there are no deficiencies. Keep reading to learn what vitamin C is, how it functions, and how to better incorporate it into a keto diet.
So why is vitamin C so important? Well, for one thing, vitamin C isn’t naturally produced in a body, so it’s important to get it from food. Plus, according to Keto Diet App, it helps with wound healing and provides other benefits.
Vitamin C is technically known as ascorbic acid. Like the B vitamins, vitamin C is water soluble, meaning it dissolves in your bloodstream. Excess amounts are removed by your kidneys and excreted in urine. Vitamin C can't be stored in your liver or body fat, as the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K can. However, your body maintains high concentrations of vitamin C in your white blood cells, eyes, skin, adrenal glands, and brain.
Although many animals, including dogs and cats, can make their own vitamin C, humans and other primates cannot make their own vitamin C because we lack one of the enzymes necessary to convert glucose to vitamin C. Therefore, it's considered an essential nutrient we need to get from our diet.
Providing powerful antioxidant protection
Enhancing wound healing
Maintaining healthy arteries and veins
Helping synthesize collagen, the main protein in your skin, bones, cartilage, and ligaments
Aiding in the creation of neurotransmitters, chemical messengers that transmit information within your brain and nervous system
Boosting iron absorption from plant sources
Perfect Keto explains further why vitamin C is so important in a diet:
Vitamin C works as an antioxidant and prevents LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol from causing damage to your body.
It’s also needed to create more collagen in the body and to use collagen more effectively, which strengthens muscles and blood vessels.
You might be worried about not getting enough vitamin C because you assume you can only get it from citrus fruits, which are high in carbs. But this simply isn’t the case.
You can get large amounts of vitamin C from low carb natural sources such as:
It’s good to know that veggies have lots of vitamins and vitamin C, even though many people think that it’s mainly fruit that carries vitamin C, specifically. Yes, oranges have lots of vitamin C, but check out what Carboholic says about just how much vitamin C is in bell peppers! It’s actually quite a bit!
Veggies get their share of good PR. But they seem like a poor cousin of fruit. Surely the smooth, colourful, sweet fruit are more nutritious than boring old spinach or broccoli?
That’s a myth! Many low-carb vegetables have a higher vitamin content than fruit.
The best source of vitamin C is not oranges or lemons. It’s actually humble bell peppers, with over three times more vitamin C (yes, three times!) than oranges.
Berries are also a good source of vitamins. They are a bit higher in carbs than vegetables, but not as high as fruit. Most low-carb diet plans allow berries, so make the most of them.
Healthline mentions many low-carb vegetables that work well for a keto diet and one example is bell peppers. Bell peppers are packed full of nutrition and are also low carb, making them ideal for a keto diet.
Bell peppers, also known as sweet peppers or capsicums, are incredibly nutritious.
They contain antioxidants called carotenoids that may reduce inflammation, decrease cancer risk and protect cholesterol and fats from oxidative damage.
One cup (149 grams) of chopped red pepper contains 9 grams of carbs, 3 of which are fiber.
It provides 93% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for vitamin A and a whopping 317% of the RDI for vitamin C, which is often lacking on very low-carb diets.
Green, orange and yellow bell peppers have similar nutrient profiles, although their antioxidant contents may vary.
Another low carb vegetable Healthline mentions are broccoli, which can help with type 2 diabetes. It also provides fiber, which is important to incorporate into a keto diet.
Broccoli is a true superfood.
It's a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, which includes kale, Brussels sprouts, radishes, and cabbage.
Studies show that broccoli may decrease insulin resistance in type 2 diabetics. It's also thought to protect against several types of cancer, including prostate cancer.
One cup (91 grams) of raw broccoli contains 6 grams of carbs, 2 of which are fiber.
It also provides more than 100% of the RDI for vitamins C and K.
Brussel sprouts are another excellent low carb veggie to eat with a total of 5 net carbs per serving. See why Carboholic recommends them:
These tiny cabbages are nutritional gems. Their reputation of blandness is mostly due to boring cooking methods like boiling. They are great if you fry or roast them instead, with plenty of fat.
Bacon works well to jazz up Brussels sprouts. It helps to bring out their more adventurous side – so try frying them together.
Even though a low carb diet has multiple health benefits, Web MD mentions a study that men and women in their thirties and forties are at risk for developing scurvy due to a lack of vitamin C. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin C in your daily diet, even if you’re on the keto diet.
We're not getting enough vitamin C, the main preventative for scurvy or vitamin C deficiency, researchers say. Could low-carb eating be to blame?
The report appears in the current issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
It provides results from a large nationwide survey, showing that seniors and children get the most vitamin C in their diet. However, men and women aged 25 to 44 get the least — and are most at risk for developing scurvy.
“A considerable number of U.S. residents are vitamin C deficient,” writes researcher Carol Johnston, a professor of nutrition at Arizona State University.
Other studies have shown similar results, she writes. One U.S. study shows that 18% of adults get fewer than 30 milligrams daily of vitamin C. Another study shows that up to 20% of the 13- to 18-year-old group gets fewer than 30 milligrams daily.
Althea Zanecosky, MS, RD from Web MD states that it’s important to get vitamin C directly from food as opposed to taking supplements. See why:
Zanecosky advises eating foods rather than relying on supplements. “The foods have many more other vitamins and minerals that you don't get in a pill,” she notes. “They're low in calories, low in fat, and fill you up. Don't tell me you can't find food on this list that's good.”
Zero Carb Zen disagrees that a low carb diet causes scurvy. The writers have interviewed a variety of families who mainly eat meat and according to them none of the family members have experienced a lack of vitamin C in their diet:
However, the fact remains that most of the Zero Carb-ers I have interviewed do not consume any organ meats or raw bone marrow, and many seem to prefer their meat cooked longer than “rare.” The best case in point is The Andersen Family. They have been eating a diet comprised almost exclusively of ribeye steaks cooked medium to medium-well for almost 2 decades. They take no vitamin C (or any other supplements for that matter), and they have never shown any symptoms of scurvy or other vitamin deficiency diseases.
Break Nutrition adds to Zero Carb Zen’s statements that on a ketogenic diet having large amounts of vitamin C may not be necessary. See how they back up those claims:
The amount of vitamin C required just for preventing scurvy was determined to be 10 mg a day, and that was determined in a high-carb context. Subsequently, a nearly tenfold inflation of this recommendation is based on speculative data about the ability to derive antioxidant properties from vitamin C, and the effect it could have on mitigating blood sugar complications of a high-carb diet.
Insofar as antioxidant effects are important, these are likely to be met more powerfully by uric acid, glutathione, and the natural antioxidant consequences of low-carb diets, rather than exogenous supplementation.
The inflated recommendations for vitamin C intake are likely to be completely inapplicable to a person following a ketogenic diet, because that person can use much smaller amounts of vitamin C efficiently.
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