Good nutrition is vital to good health, and chances are good that you’ve adopted a keto lifestyle for just that purpose. Eating whole foods made with real ingredients goes a long way toward truly feeding your body. However, it can be hard to get all the nutrition you need from food alone. Supplementing can help.
Most people don’t get enough vitamins and minerals and are unaware that that has an unseen impact on their health. That’s true even in keto circles. For that reason, we’ve put together this guide on some essential micronutrients that will help you achieve great health while using ketosis for its many benefits.
Getting enough electrolytes (magnesium, potassium and sodium) is an especially important piece of keto eating, but it’s not the only piece. To get more benefits from a ketogenic diet, you need to get enough omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. They’ll help boost your heart health and make it easier to absorb electrolytes and other vital micronutrients.
This important vitamin functions as a hormone in the body. Among other things, it keeps nutrients like calcium, magnesium and phosphorous at normal levels. It is fat soluble and is naturally found in foods like fatty fish, liver, egg yolks and pastured and grass-fed meat. According to the government’s last estimate, roughly a third of Americans don’t get enough vitamin D.
The “sunshine vitamin” is an apt name for it; it is produced by the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. During sunny weather, a mere 15 to 20 minutes of sun exposure can provide all the vitamin D needed for the day. However, the process happens slower in people with more pigmentation (darker skin). For this to work well, you need to expose large areas of skin without using sunscreen.
Unfortunately, winter weather in temperate climates makes it nearly impossible to make enough vitamin D from the sun. Also, jobs that keep us indoors can cause deficiency even in the summertime. Deficiency can cause issues, such as fragile bones and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) or cancer. Having an optimal level of vitamin D makes fat loss easier and aids muscle growth and strength. It also maintains the health of the immune system and can possibly increase low testosterone levels.
Vitamin D and Keto
While the health benefits of vitamin D apply to everyone, those who eat keto may find them especially important. A ketogenic diet causes electrolyte loss, so the vitamin’s ability to help absorb them is important. Also, since many go keto to lose weight and lower their risk of heart attack, they can certainly use the heart-protecting qualities of vitamin D. Bodybuilders and other athletes will appreciate the muscular benefits.
Many foods that are high in vitamin D are keto friendly, so a good first step is to get plenty of them. However, it may not be possible to get enough from food alone, especially in the winter months. Supplemental vitamin D can help you stay strong and healthy throughout the year.
Omega-3 or Fish Oil Supplements
Fatty acids are important to health and, like vitamin D, many people don’t get enough omega-3. They are “essential” fatty acids because we cannot make them in our bodies; we need to consume them. The supplements are sometimes called “fish oil” because they come from fatty fish.
Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) of the highest order. While vegetable oils are PUFAs, they are high in omega-6s, which are inflammatory. Too high a ratio of 6:3 is bad for your health, so getting plenty of omega-3s is very important.
If you are low in omega-3, you can experience dry skin, depression, fatigue and memory problems. Omega-3s will increase your HDL (“good”) cholesterol, and it may help relieve arthritic pains. They may also help prevent and treat hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). Fish oil also improves triglyceride levels. While triglycerides are fat molecules that are needed for proper functioning, higher levels are linked to a greater risk of cardiovascular disease.
Nearly 70 large, high-quality studies involving fish oil supplements show that 3 to 4g taken daily reduced triglycerides in healthy subjects by 25 percent. Those with elevated levels experienced even larger reductions. Whether or not you are on keto specifically for your heart health, omega-3 supplementation is beneficial.
Keto and Omega-3
The cardiovascular benefits of omega-3 fish oil were also tested with a ketogenic diet. Both groups ate a keto diet for four weeks and experienced a sizeable decrease in triglyceride levels, but the group that took fish oil had a greater decrease (19 percent versus 17 percent). Supplementing omega-3 is very useful, especially for the few whose triglycerides increase on keto.
Quality is very important with fish oil. Freshness and purity are key aspects of quality. Old, oxidized fish oil not only tastes bad, but it exposes you to additional free radicals. Our clean fish oil supplement comes from certified sustainable fisheries and has been independently lab-tested for purity. Order our omega-3 fish oil capsules and you’ll be receiving the highest quality there is.
Supplementing Electrolytes on Keto
The keto diet is diuretic – it causes water loss. With that goes sodium, and you also lose some magnesium and potassium as the body tries to maintain electrolyte balance. Normally, the storage hormone insulin tells the kidneys to retain electrolytes. However, in your low-carb state, you aren’t producing much insulin.
When your electrolytes are low, you will be much more likely to experience weakness or dizziness, fatigue, headaches and constipation. These symptoms contribute largely to “keto flu,” but you can experience them even once you are adapted to burning fat. They can return any time your electrolyte levels are not maintained.
Sodium has many regulatory functions in the body; it affects blood pressure, pH and water levels, and supports the adrenals, which is important for hormone production. It is also vital for brain cell function and regulating signals between nerves. You can experience long-term tissue and cell damage if your sodium levels are too low or too high. Talk about an important mineral!
Fortunately, it is very easy to get enough sodium through your diet. Salt your food to taste (preferably with a quality sea salt), and enjoy eggs, cheese, meat and low-carb pickled foods. You can even enjoy a warm mug of salted bone broth instead of tea, coffee or a snack.
Rus likes to get his sodium from Himalayan Pink Salt and bone broths and soup when possible!
Nearly half of Americans don’t get enough magnesium, and deficiency is even more common among low-carb dieters. Sodium is very important, but magnesium is just as essential. It is (directly and indirectly) involved in more than 300 reactions or processes. Magnesium helps you sleep, regulates blood pressure, keeps muscles and nerves functioning, makes proteins and more!
Magnesium-rich foods include avocado, dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, salmon and other fish. It is difficult to get enough magnesium solely from food on a ketogenic diet. That’s because many of the richest foods are also too high in carbohydrates. Supplementing with a good magnesium formula is important.
Our MagEnhance uses three types of magnesium for optimal absorption, great brain function and solid sleep. It is also formulated to help with heart and bone health, migraines and exercise recovery and performance.
Like sodium and magnesium, potassium helps electrical signals travel through the body. Among other things, it is involved in pH balance, water balance, muscle contractions, heart rhythm and blood pressure regulation. Extreme fatigue, irregular heartbeat, headaches and muscle cramps are just some of the things you can expect when you are low on potassium.
While bananas are well-known for their potassium content, they are high in carbs and actually lower in potassium than several other foods. A cup of cooked spinach (or other dark leafy greens) will give you nearly a quarter of your daily potassium. An avocado is not far behind at 20 percent of the daily value. Some lower-potassium keto options include salmon, zucchini, beef, mushrooms, cauliflower and some nuts.
Most potassium supplements come in the form of 10mg tablets which could mean taking up to 40 tablets a day to get enough potassium. Lo-Salt is a commonly used potassium supplement alternative in the keto community, as it is a mixture of sodium and potassium together. 1/4 tsp or 1.3g of Lo-Salt contains 170mg sodium and 450mg potassium!
If you are supplementing your potassium intake, be very careful to follow the dosage directions and work with your doctor. High potassium levels can create problems. While the most common symptom of excess potassium is an irregular heartbeat, it can (in severe cases) cause cardiac arrest. Certain medical conditions and pharmaceuticals can cause high potassium levels, and supplementation can exacerbate that.
This blue-green algae is considered a superfood. It is great for heart health because of its effect on blood lipids. Spirulina reduces triglycerides, total cholesterol and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol while increasing HDL cholesterol. It also decreases blood pressure. While the ketogenic diet does all those things by itself, there is an additional benefit to supplementing with spirulina.
Spirulina is nutritionally dense; it is half protein and a good deal of fiber. It is also high in iron. However, the biggest benefit to keto dieters is its high levels of magnesium and potassium. If you have difficulty meeting your potassium requirement, try supplementing with this great natural food source.
There are many biological processes to support in our bodies with proper nutrition. We want to support our bodies by eating a ketogenic diet, so let’s make sure we get all the nutrients we need. The supplements presented here are involved in many processes and have many benefits to give you. Try to get as much of them as you can from real foods, and augment what you need to with quality supplements. Your body will thank you, and your health will benefit.