Keto Minerals and Maximizing Nutrition

April 01, 2018

Keto Minerals and Maximizing Nutrition

As well as vitamins, there’s another essential aspect of micro nutrition that comes directly from the ground beneath our feet……the crucial minerals, necessary for everyone’s health, whether on keto or not.

Where do Minerals Come From

Minerals come from the earth. They can’t be made by the body; instead they’re taken up by plants from the soil, often aided by bacteria. Getting enough minerals is essential for the ketogenic diet.
Minerals have a vital role in:
  • Absorbing nutrients
  • Building and repairing DNA
  • Detoxing
  • Digestion
  • Hormones
  • Hydration
  • Making muscles move
  • Making sperm
  • Metabolism
  • Mineralizing teeth and bones
  • Oxygenation of the blood and
  • Sending signals between brain and nerve cells
I’m sure you’ll agree that these are crucial activities!
 

Which Minerals Do I Need?

So, you need to know which minerals to focus on and how to get them into your keto diet. There are five essential minerals: Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Sodium. Shockingly, nearly half of Americans are magnesium deficient. There are also trace minerals which we need in smaller amounts, these are: Cobalt, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Selenium and Zinc. Let’s have a look at them so you can ensure you’re including them in your keto diet.

Calcium on keto

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body and vital for the bones and nervous system. 99% of our calcium is stored in the bones - acting as a reservoir for the rest of the body. There’s currently a lot of debate about consuming dairy to get your calcium input; milk does contain calcium, but, the way milk is produced and processed, combined with how we metabolize it, means it’s not the best calcium source for your body on keto.
You need more calcium than normal when you start keto since some is lost with glycogen and water during the adaptation phase. You need to consume about 1,000mg of calcium per day from your food or a supplement. It’s important you get calcium from a variety of sources, including:
 
  • Oily fish, kale, turnip greens, bok choy and broccoli
  • Bone broth and Almond milk are also excellent ways to get calcium on keto
  • One can of sardines is 33% of your calcium requirements
  • And a cup of collard greens is about 20% of what you need each day
  • In fact 100 calories of collard greens contains 3 times more calcium than 100 calories of milk
  • Almond milk has 50% more calcium than cow’s milk

Copper on keto

This is found in high doses in seafood, beef, nuts, seeds, green vegetables and dark chocolate. Usually, copper isn’t deficient on a keto diet.

Iodine on keto

Although not usually lacking on the keto diet, this mineral is vital for producing thyroid hormones
Some studies, specifically on rats and turkeys, have shown that high fat and calorie restrictive diets impact thyroid function. Fortunately, HUMAN research is indicating that getting enough nutrients (specifically iodine) combined with Omega 3 fats support your thyroid to maintain optimum levels on a low carb or keto diet.
 
You need at least 150 micrograms of iodine per day and some people notice improvements in energy and mood when they consume more. The pro-thyroid nutrients you need in your keto diet are: iodine, selenium and Vitamin A.
Iodine is found abundantly in:
 
  • Seaweeds, some of which can provide 100% of your requirements in just a few bites.
  • Iodine is also in white fish, dairy and eggs – 3 oz of cod contain 66% of your daily requirements
  • The iodine content of seaweed varies greatly, so check out their individual nutritional values then make some delicious and handy keto seaweed rolls or sprinkle seaweed on your salads!

Iron on keto

Iron is rich in green leafy veg like spinach, made famous by Popeye. But, this is actually a type of iron which is not absorbed as well by the body. Also, the plant sources of iron contain chemicals (called oxalates and phthalates) which reduce iron absorption. Men and women over 50 need 8 mg per day while younger women, who lose iron in their periods, need 18 mg per day. Iron is not usually lacking on the keto diet unless you are vegan. You may want to ensure you get enough of this essential keto mineral with a chelated iron supplement. Iron can be found in:
 
  • Animals sources, from red meat, eggs and liver, contain a more absorbable form of iron.
  • 3 oz of beef liver has 5 mg of iron – half of what a man needs per day
  • 3 oz of oysters provide 8mg
  • A cup of spinach provides about 6 mg of iron
  • A lack of iron will lead to lethargy and even anaemia which is more likely in women

Magnesium on keto

Magnesium is needed to activate hundreds of enzymes in the body. While not usually lacking on keto you need more magnesium during adaptation and many people are deficient before beginning keto! Magnesium is a ‘calming’ mineral and it will naturally reduce anxiety and tension. This is one of the reasons we reach for chocolate when we are stressed! We need 300 to 400 milligrams of magnesium per day and some research suggests high fat diets reduce magnesium absorption. Magnesium is crucial for our nervous system and energy production and found in relatively low doses in food so we need to consume it from a variety of sources:
 
  • Nuts and seeds (specifically almonds, cashews and pumpkin seeds) contain about 20% of our daily requirements per cupful
  • Magnesium is also found in the green coloring, called chlorophyll, found in most edible plants
  • This means that darker greens, like spinach and chard, contain more
  • One cupful of spinach provides about 20% of our daily magnesium requirements
  • Avocado and Yogurt have about 10% of our daily magnesium requirements per cupful
  • Sugar-free dark chocolate, raw cacao beans, cacao nibs or cacao powder offer the highest, and tastiest, source of magnesium
  • Just 2 oz of cacao nibs (which is a part of the cacao bean) provide 40% of your daily iron, fiber AND magnesium requirements! Wow.
  • Cacao nibs are an excellent source of keto mineral nutrition packed into a tasty nutty nibble which are like natural, keto friendly, chocolate chips with about 3% net carbs.

Manganese on keto

Manganese is not usually lacking on keto as it is found in relatively large amounts in a range of keto foods.
 
  • Specifically it’s found in nuts, seeds, seafood and again raw sugar-free chocolate or cacao nibs!

Molybdenum on keto

Most people get enough molybdenum (pronounced moh-lib-den-um) from their diet without really trying. In fact, if you have too much it can increase copper excretion.
 
  • Nuts are the best keto source and unless you don’t eat these at all, you don’t need to worry.

Phosphorus on keto

Fortunately, this means this mineral is not usually lacking on keto.
  • Meat, dairy, nuts and seeds are relatively high in phosphorus

Potassium on keto

It can be difficult to get enough potassium from your keto diet foods alone, and the excretion of sodium by the kidney causes potassium to be lost. A lack of potassium causes cramps, constipation and irritability. Note that when cooking meat it is the juices after cooking which contain the most minerals - mop up the juices or make a broth to get the minerals from your meat. You need about 5,000mg of potassium per day. The low potassium values in keto friendly foods and the increased need for this vital keto mineral is why many people take a potassium keto supplement or electrolyte drink.
 
  • Potassium is found low doses in meats, dairy, seafood, avocado, kale and mushrooms
  • This means you would need to eat 4 or 5 avocados or 5 cups of spinach!

Selenium on keto

We only need a little bit but selenium is essential for the thyroid gland and fertility.
 
  • Fortunately, a single brazil nut has 100% of your daily needs
  • You can also get enough each day in 2 oz of Yellowfin tuna

Sodium on keto

There has been a lot of negative press surrounding sodium, specifically from salt. High sodium intake was associated with heart disease but this is slowly being disproved, new research suggests it is actually vital to get enough of this keto mineral. Some research suggests we need 3 to 5g of sodium per day to ensure heart health, but more than 5g per day can be problematic. For individuals with existing high sodium levels and raised blood pressure - often from a diet high in processed foods - the keto diet naturally restores balance as you adopt more natural sources of food. This is because salt is used excessively in processed foods. When you adopt the keto diet, for the first few weeks, you lose water and sodium. Topping up sodium levels with quality sources is crucial for hydration, electrolyte balance and energy production.
 
Aim for at least 1 to 2 teaspoons of quality salt per day to meet your sodium needs, Himalayan or celtic rock salt is an excellent, nutritionally dense source of sodium and other keto minerals. Beware of cheap table salt, this often has maltodextrin (sugar) added to stabilize it (but only in the US). Don’t be scared of eating salt, ignore the negative propaganda, it’s hype not science. You need to get enough salt or you will lack energy, get headaches and feel shaky. As with potassium some people prefer to consume an electrolyte drink to supplement their keto minerals and ensure they are getting the right amounts.
 
  • Smoked, cured and salted meat or fish, including bacon and anchovies are other tasty ways to meet your salty sodium needs

Zinc on keto

The final mineral we are interested in is Zinc which is crucial for metabolism, the immune system and, making hormones. You need about 5 to 10 mg of zinc per day, potentially much more for men as it’s lost during ejaculation. It’s found in many keto foods and is not usually lacking on keto.
 
  • About 2-4 oz of beef or half to 1 oz of oysters provide enough zinc for your keto mineral needs
  • Half a cup of pumpkin seeds or cashews also provide 40 to 50% of your zinc requirements plus many more essential keto minerals and vitamins too

To Summarize Minerals on Keto

  • Seafood and oily fish are an excellent source of many minerals
  • Meat and specifically liver are also high in minerals (ensure you consume the juices from cooking!)
  • Dairy and eggs also contain minerals but not typically as much as meats and seafood
  • Sea vegetables are an excellent source of several crucial minerals
  • Quality salt is vital to keep electrolytes balanced and maintain hydration
  • Again green vegetables, specifically dark greens, are critical for healthy keto mineral nutrition
  • The cacao bean and other healthy chocolate derivatives are a tasty source of many essential keto minerals
So, you can see that as long as you eat a variety of fresh keto friendly foods, including dark green vegetables, you won’t be lacking minerals.

Quality Matters

It’s important that your foods are from quality sources. Sadly, industrialized agriculture has negatively impacted the nutritional quality of our food supply. Foods are polluted with pesticides, fungicides, antibiotics, growth hormones and many other chemicals. Landmark studies from the American College of Nutrition showed significant declines in nutritional values: the drop in Vitamin C is over 30% and Vitamin B2 nearly 40% between 1950 and 1999 (and it’s getting worse).
Crops are grown in the same soils repeatedly so there are less minerals to take up. Chemicals have sterilized the soil, killing off the bacteria which help plants produce vitamins. Animals reared intensively contain residues of the antibiotics and growth hormones designed to promote weight gain in the animals – can you guess what they do to us? Even more chemicals are added during meat processing, including nitrates, ammonia and bleach. Quite simply, the long term impact on human health has not been assessed and there are multiple risks emerging.
We’re not telling you all this to scare you. You have the right to be informed about these issues that impact your health. Fortunately, there is a solution, one that is becoming more and more popular: Organic food! Grown in real soil, nourished by nature and free of toxic chemicals, traditional crop varieties are rich in flavor and nutrition. Organic grass fed meat and dairy are also increasing in availability. New research proves that organic food is more nutritious than crops grown with chemical fertilizers. The British Journal of Nutrition found organic meat has 50% more beneficial omega-3 fats. The review found that organic crops have up to 50% more beneficial nutrients. These beneficial nutrients will boost your health and wellbeing on the keto diet even more.
 

The Impact of Highly Processed Foods

The way our food is processed and preserved also has a massive impact on nutrition. Most proteins, vitamins and minerals are heat sensitive and easily damaged. The food processing done in factories to produce packaged food is like extreme cooking. High heat and pressure is used to preserve and dramatically alter food. Other chemicals, addictive agents and additives are also added. Processed food lacks biologically active nutrition. Often, it barely resembles the original plant or animal product used to make it.
Since you have decided to pursue the keto diet, you’re probably serious about improving your health. To maximize your health and minimize the impact of compromised foods you need to eat as many fresh and organic products as possible. Processed foods are convenient, but packed with deceptive ingredients which ultimately don’t support your health or the keto diet. While the price difference in choosing organic and grass-fed can be off-putting, in the long run, can you put a price on your health and wellbeing? Which would you prefer: vegetables grown in a chemical soup or those grown in naturally rich soil? Do you want to eat stressed animals kept alive with antibiotics in cramped cages or those who roam calm and free, eating from the earth?
Eating fresh ingredients does mean you need to learn how to cook. We’ll help you by sharing delicious and simple keto recipes to satisfy your taste buds and maximize nutrition. Until then, make sure to get enough minerals, and when it comes to selecting your food, keep it real!