Keto Micronutrients: How you can Avoid Vitamin & Mineral Deficiencies on Keto

The keto diet attracts more and more followers every day for its well-known and well-reputed trove of health benefits like weight loss through a strict low-carb, high-fat diet, but its potential downsides aren’t quite as talked about.

You can expect vitamin and mineral deficiencies to come with pretty much any strict diet that cuts down or cuts out many foods.

If you’re on the keto diet, be mindful of the foods you’re eating and even consider taking supplements to help in preventing a vitamin or mineral shortage.

Otherwise your body will feel some unpleasant effects that can greatly hinder your keto journey, most notably, the keto flu, keto rash, and keto insomnia

Luckily, there’s a way you can avoid the nasty side effects that come with vitamin and mineral deficiencies with proper planning and awareness.

Here is everything you need to know to do things right!

Loss of Minerals

Properly managing your minerals and electrolytes are key to avoiding unpleasant side effects typically associated with low carb diets like the keto diet.

When first starting off, most dieters will experience something known as the “keto-flu”, a term coined due to its flu-like symptoms. Some of these symptoms include fatigue, brain fog, low energy, and nausea, to name a few.

This happens because you are essentially starving your body of carbohydrates, leading to a rapid loss of electrolytes. Let’s take a look at some of the most common minerals your body might be lacking on the keto diet.

Potassium

Potassium is an all-too common mineral deficiency your body will experience on the keto diet. When you lose your body’s stored sodium, this depletion of salt also leads to potassium loss.

Also known as hypokalemia, a potassium deficiency can leave you feeling weak, constipated, irritable, and experiencing muscle cramps.

For active dieters, this shortage on potassium can even compromise your lean muscle mass and affect performance.

There are plenty of keto-friendly sources of potassium including:

Sodium

While it’s important to avoid consuming too much salt on or off the ketogenic diet, it is still an essential mineral that should always be included, especially when you first start severely restricting your body of carbohydrates.

When you begin cutting out carbs, you’ll naturally lose sodium and water in the first few weeks. If you workout, you’ll lose even more sodium through your sweat, further escalating the problem.

You can offset this by aiming to consume an extra 1,000-2,000 mg of sodium per day. A good source for sodium is broth, bouillon, or Himalayan sea salt.

For dieters who are in poor health or are overweight, your body is most likely holding onto excessive amounts of sodium, in which case it can be helpful to restore it to healthy levels on the keto diet.

Magnesium

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body and keto dieters will find themselves deficient in it if they aren’t careful.

If you’re experiencing a shortage of magnesium, you may feel symptoms like muscle cramps, fatigue, and dizziness.

This essential mineral plays many important roles in the health of your brain and body functions and is involved in more than 600 reactions in your body. [1]

Including energy creation, protein formation, gene maintenance, muscle movements, nervous system regulation, and so much more.

Here is a list of foods that are rich in magnesium:

  • Nuts
  • Cacao powder and dark chocolate
  • Fish
  • Artichokes
  • Spinach

Calcium

When transitioning to a keto diet, calcium is another electrolyte mineral that can be flushed out.

While it isn’t as concerning if you eat a healthy diet, there are still times when you may find yourself deficient.

Here are some excellent sources of calcium:

  • Dairy
  • Fish
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Bok choy
  • Unsweetened almond milk

Loss of Vitamins

Now it’s time to review important vitamins you may find yourself deficient in when cutting out carbs on the ketogenic diet, and the best sources to get what your body needs.

Vitamin B Complex

Vitamin B complex is a group of eight water-soluble nutrients that include, riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, folic acid, B6, B12, biotin, and pantothenic acid.

These ingredients play many roles in the body, from transforming food into energy to supporting the production of red blood cells.

On the keto diet, you’ll be fine getting most of these vitamins by eating protein-rich foods and leafy greens. The only B vitamin you may be lacking in are pantothenic acid and biotin, most commonly found in carb-rich grains.

Some foods that have a high variety of B vitamins include:

Vitamin D

Found in dairy products, vitamin D is also created naturally by your body’s skin cells when you’re out in the sunlight.

It’s essential to get sufficient vitamin D as it’s responsible for bone, skin, and teeth health by improving the body’s absorption of calcium.

While the keto diet does allow dairy, many dieters will avoid it due to its somewhat high carb content, leading to low levels of vitamin D.

Increase your intake by spending more time in the sun or supplementing with Vitamin D, but don’t forget to wear adequate sun protection if you’re outside!

Vitamin K

Vitamin K’s main function is to regulate blood clotting and to strengthen the bones[2]. Without it, you can experience excessive bleeding from wounds and injuries. This important nutrient has also been linked to lower risk of stroke and improved memory.

You won’t be lacking in Vitamin K as long as you get plenty of dark leafy greens, such as broccoli, kale, and spinach, in your diet.

Final Thoughts

Making the switch from a standard diet to a low-carb ketogenic diet will likely result in some form of vitamin or mineral deficiency if not done right.

To prevent yourself from feeling some unpleasant side effects or worse health complications, ensure you are getting a healthy diversity of keto-friendly foods.

You can even supplement your diet with a multivitamin or other keto supplements.

If you find yourself feeling sluggish or constantly fatigued, this is a pretty clear sign that you aren’t getting enough vitamins and minerals. If this is the case, visit your physician to see what vitamin or mineral you may be lacking.

More Readings:

Trans Fat on the Keto Diet: Healthy or Not?

Keto Bulletproof Coffee Recipe

Keto Headache – Why You Have it and How to Prevent it

5 Biggest Keto Diet Mistakes You’ll Want to Avoid

References:

[1] de Baaij JH, Hoenderop JG, Bindels RJ. Magnesium in man: implications for health and disease. Physiol Rev. 2015 Jan;95(1):1-46. doi: 10.1152/physrev.00012.2014.

[2] Beulens JW, Booth SL, van den Heuvel EG, Stoecklin E, Baka A, Vermeer C. The role of menaquinones (vitamin K₂) in human health. Br J Nutr. 2013 Oct;110(8):1357-68. doi: 10.1017/S0007114513001013. Epub 2013 Apr 16.

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Jessica Cotzin is a freelance writer, web developer, and avid traveler. Born and raised in South Florida, she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Multi-Media Journalism from Florida Atlantic University and currently resides in Miami Beach. Her passions lie in reading great literature and traveling the world, bumping blindly into new adventures.

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