Starting a low carb diet is exciting, especially if weight loss and having more energy from cutting out carbs and sweets is the goal. However, for people who are new to a low carb diet or a ketogenic diet, it’s hard to know what nutrients may be lacking in a diet. It’s possible to get all nutrients from food sources, even while on a keto diet (a high fat, low carb diet), but taking supplements can help as well. A few supplements that people on a low carb diet take are magnesium and omega 3’s, which we discuss below. Find out what vitamins to take while on a low carb diet and why these supplements, in particular, are essential. Learn more about the benefits of a low carb diet in the Body Reboot book.
According to Healthline, magnesium is a great vitamin to take while on a low carb diet because it gives you more energy and improves your immune system. Healthline also mentions what foods are good sources of magnesium. This important supplement can also alleviate muscle cramps, help you sleep better, and more, which we discuss below:
Magnesium is a mineral that boosts energy, regulates blood sugar levels and supports your immune system.
Research suggests that due to magnesium-depleting medications, reliance on processed foods and other factors, a good portion of the population has or is at risk of developing a magnesium deficiency.
On a ketogenic diet, it may be even more difficult to meet your magnesium needs, as many magnesium-rich foods like beans and fruits are also high in carbs.
For these reasons, taking 200–400 mg of magnesium per day may be beneficial if you’re on a keto diet.
Supplementing with magnesium can help reduce muscle cramps, difficulty sleeping and irritability — all symptoms commonly experienced by those transitioning to a ketogenic diet.
Some of the most absorbable forms of magnesium include magnesium glycinate, magnesium gluconate and magnesium citrate.
If you wish to increase your magnesium intake through keto-friendly foods, focus on incorporating these low-carb, magnesium-rich options:
If you aren’t familiar with phytochemicals, then you should know it’s the healthy stuff found in plant foods. Sometimes it’s hard to get an adequate amount of fruit while you’re on a low carb diet, but you should be implementing plenty of vegetables. If you’re unable to get enough phytochemicals, it might be a good idea to take a supplement in addition to your diet, as The Vitamin Shoppe recommends.
While there aren’t set recommendations for our daily intake of phytochemicals (the health-boosting compounds found in plant foods), there are recommendations for fruits and veggies: A cup and a half of fruit plus two cups of veggies a day for women, and two cups of fruit plus two and a half cups of veggies a day for men.
No, there’s no true replacement for fruits and veggies, but fruit and greens powders, which are made from a variety of fruits and/or vegetables that are dried and ground—can help you increase your phytochemical intake and round out your overall nutrition, says Israetel. You can add them to keto-friendly smoothies or just mix them with water or protein for a boost of plant-based nutrition throughout the day. Two popular options: Garden of Life’s Raw Organic Perfect Food Green Superfood in Chocolate Cacao and plnt’s Organic BioGreens.
According to Perfect Keto, Vitamin D is an essential supplement, but sometimes it’s hard to have enough in your system. That’s where taking supplements are crucial and making sure your Vitamin D levels are high enough in your body.
Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins for humans, responsible for regulating inflammation, immunity, sex hormones, and so much more. Needless to say, it’s vital we get enough — and most people are not, sometimes even if they’re supplementing.
If you’re not sure how your vitamin D levels are doing, the easier way to find out is with a blood test. You can do this during routine tests, and it’s usually either covered by insurance completely or very affordable.
How to get it: Optimal levels of vitamin D should be in the 65-75 ng/mL range. If not, supplementing may need to be your next step. A good amount is 1000 to 1500 IU for every 25 pounds of body weight. Be sure to eat some fat when you take it (unless the supplement already contains fat), since vitamin D is fat soluble, and take it in the morning (night dosage may mess with your sleep).
Iron is yet another supplement that you should have, especially while on a low carb diet. Health says it helps move oxygen throughout your body and, for women who have heavy periods, taking iron can help with that. See what else Health has to say about iron:
Think of iron as the fuel that allows every cell in your system to function properly. “Iron is a mineral the body needs to make hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body,” says Hultin. Without the 18 mg of iron recommended daily for non-pregnant women between ages 18 and 50, you'll feel lethargic and weak, and your skin may appear paler.
Many keto-approved foods contain excellent amounts of iron, says Hultin, such as beef, some fish, and oysters. However, other solid iron sources are restricted or excluded from the keto diet, like fortified breakfast cereals, lentils, tofu, and beans, she says.
Getting adequate iron is even more challenging if you are a vegetarian or vegan on keto, since you can't consume animal products. Leafy greens, like kale and spinach, are good plant sources of iron, but the type of iron they contain is not easily absorbed by the body. To ensure that you're getting the right amount, a daily iron supplement is a smart idea. Make sure you try to meet your needs through the diet, and check with your doctor if you may need supplementation,” says Hultin.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Another essential supplement that Healthline o have as a part of your diet is omega-3 fatty acids. Healthline discusses how omega-3s can keep inflammation at bay and support overall health.
Omega-3 fatty acid supplements, such as fish or krill oil, are rich in the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which benefit health in many ways.
EPA and DHA have been found to reduce inflammation, lower heart disease risk and prevent mental decline.
Western diets tend to be higher in omega-6 fatty acids (found in foods like vegetable oils and processed foods) and lower in omega-3s (found in fatty fish).
This imbalance can promote inflammation in the body and has been linked to an increase in many inflammatory diseases.
Omega-3 supplements can be particularly beneficial for people on ketogenic diets, as they can help maintain a healthy omega-3 to omega-6 ratio when following a high-fat diet.
What’s more, omega-3 supplements can maximize the ketogenic diet’s impact on overall health.
One study showed that people following a ketogenic diet who supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids from krill oil experienced greater decreases in triglycerides, insulin and inflammatory markers than those who did not.
When shopping for omega-3 supplements, choose a reputable brand that provides at least a combined 500 mg of EPA and DHA per 1,000 mg serving.
Those on blood-thinning medications should consult a doctor before taking omega-3 supplements, as they can increase your risk of bleeding by further thinning your blood.
To boost your intake of omega-3 fatty acids through keto-friendly foods, eat more salmon, sardines and anchovies.
Perfect Keto reveals that calcium is another important supplement you should implement into your diet. If you eat dairy, then you’ll get dairy naturally, but if you can’t eat dairy, then you can find it in other food sources such as kale and almond milk.
Calcium is another electrolyte that can be flushed out as you’re transitioning to a ketogenic diet. Although it’s not as much of a concern if you eat a healthy diet, sometimes you may need to supplement.
How to get it: The most obvious source of calcium is dairy, but if you aren’t able to do dairy, good sources also include fish, broccoli, kale, bok choy, or unsweetened/unflavored almond milk.
If you want to supplement, make sure it includes vitamin D, the vitamin we’ll talk about next that is necessary to absorb calcium.
Having a healthy diet is essential, and so is making sure you have all of the proper nutrients in your body. To learn more about a low carb diet and what to eat, check out our book. Right now we are giving away copies of the Body Reboot book! Help us cover the cost of shipping, and we’ll send you a free book. Check out this page to find out if there are any copies of the book left before it’s too late.
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Discover how to activate your body's “Reboot Switch” that flips on a fat burning inferno so you can finally achieve your weight loss goals!