By now you know the importance of macronutrients, protein, fat and carbs, on the ketogenic diet. The other, and just as vital, aspect of nutrition is micronutrients, which we will cover in this article.
Compared to macronutrients, you need micronutrients in much smaller amounts. Your body can usually store a little of each, so you don’t always need all of them every day. Micronutrients are essential for many of the body’s metabolic functions. They include vitamins, minerals and other biologically active compounds called phytochemicals. Though vital, many Western diets are severely lacking in them!Many modern diseases are made much worse by our current state of malnutrition. Unfortunately, modern industrialized agriculture and food processing has created a nutritional gap. Fresh fruit and vegetables are produced with heavy doses of pesticides which reduce the nutritional content. They are grown in mineral depleted sterile soils that lack beneficial, vitamin forming bacteria.
Decades of crossbreeding and selection has focussed on size and ease of transport not nutritional value.
High heat processing, radiation and chemical additives further reduce the nutritional content of natural produce. Cooking, specifically deep fat frying and microwaving also removes precious nutrition. Unless you are growing your own organic food in pure mountain springs, using enriched soils and sewing ancient seeds you probably have some mild vitamin or mineral deficiencies (for example nearly 80% of US citizens are deficient in magnesium).
To make up for the modern nutritional gap, and prevent deficiencies from the restrictions on fruit and veg you need to supplement your diet, everybody does really, not just those on keto. There are hundreds of supplements on the market, and some are better value than others. Typically you get what you pay for, so don’t scrimp on quality! Choose trusted brands that use the best ingredients. Also, consider having some blood work to see if you are low on anything specific.
Let’s start with Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine Vitamin it can be made by the body, but only if we get plenty of high quality sunshine. Vit D is responsible for mood regulation, making hormones and controlling metabolism. It’s pretty difficult to get enough from food, so opt for a high strength liquid Vitamin D with antioxidants in oil. It’s easy to take and lasts ages, pretty cheap for what you get, for just a few cents a day you get sunshine in a bottle
Gut and bacterial health is becoming increasingly important as we recognise the immense power of these allies in our belly. The good health of your bacterial biome can positively influence your mood, reduce cravings and help lose weight. It can also support your immune system while increasing mental focus and clarity.
To support your biome, take a high strength probiotic with multiple bacterial strains or lots of eat fermented foods. Combine probiotics, the bacteria, with prebiotics, which will feed them. Eat foods they enjoy like green leafy vegetables or sugar-free dark chocolate made with inulin.
There are several essential fatty acids that we need to consume, they include Omega-3, 6 and 9. They improve mental focus, blood sugar control, blood lipids and neutralise free radicals produced by metabolism. In addition to needing sufficient omega oils, you also need to consume them in the correct ratio.
Between them they send signals to the body: too much Omega-6 and you signal inflammation. Excess Omega-6’s in processed plant oils links to inflammation and immune diseases associated with Western diets. Fish, Krill, hemp and limpet mussel oil supplements all have beneficial ratio of omegas 3-6 and 9. Limpet oils are especially potent and have additional antioxidants in the oil. But, beware of impurities from sea-pollution, like heavy metals, when sourcing fish oils.
Fish oils are generally more effective than plant based oils which need more processing by the body. You can also purchase balanced Omega 3-6- 9 oils made from combinations of both plant and fish sources.
Hydration is more than just water, you also need to be aware of your electrolytes. Electrolytes are the minerals and salts your body uses to create energy gradients and catalyse reactions. Without them you will feel tired and lethargic and not be able to satisfy your thirst.
An acute lack of electrolytes causes headaches, dizziness and muscle twitching. A chronic lack can cause fainting and over longer periods kidney damage. Due to metabolic changes during ketosis your body needs more salt. You are also drinking more which flushes out salts.
Ensure you add 2 teaspoons of quality Himalayan salt to your drinks or meals each day. Alternatively, consume fresh herbal teas or broths to replace lost minerals and natural salts. You can also purchase rehydration salts, without sugar, or electrolyte powders.
Magnesium is an essential mineral which relaxes the muscles and regulates the heartbeat. By relaxing the muscles of the bowel, and drawing water in, magnesium also prevents constipation. Magnesium will aid restful sleep, energy production and metabolism. It’s essential for a healthy nervous system and making your muscles move. It Iowers blood pressure, reduces headaches, improves insulin efficiency and is anti-inflammatory. Most people need a supplement to get enough, it’s very difficult to get sufficient from your diet alone.
I take a chelated form called Magnesium Glycinate because it is absorbed much better. Other essential minerals you should consider include potassium, sodium and calcium. You can usually get these in a high strength multi-vitamin and mineral supplement. Choose one suitable for you, e.g. for men, for older women, etc. Look for multi-vit supplements which exceed RDAs (over 100%) for B vitamins, C vitamins and Vitamin A. Don’t buy cheap supplements, you get what you pay for!
Beyond Recommended Daily Amounts
RDAs are only enough to ensure survival, to kick start a healthy body a few more vitamins and minerals will help. Also consider a separate B complex supplement for the full range of B vitamins, which really support mood. To get high doses of specific minerals you might prefer individual supplements.
Another reason to supplement is to cause a specific effect, such as increase energy levels by taking coenzyme Q10 or other metabolic factors or aid lipid profiles and support detox with seaweeds and other plant based nutrition. Research the multitude of options and experiment on yourself with what works for you.
In addition to chemically synthesized or extracted supplements, you can get organic plant powders. These are rapidly becoming popular in the health and fitness arena. Made from raw, and sometimes wild, vegetables or fruits the dehydrated powders offer nutrition as nature intended. The powder blends often come with quality plant protein and tasty flavors; you can now drink your greens.
You can make your keto transition easier if your body is physically prepared with the nutrition it needs.
Consult with a healthcare practitioner before making changes to personal supplementation or herbal medication. A naturopath, dietician or nutritional therapist can advise additional supplements to help achieve your health goals.
Modern industrialized agricultural processes have negatively impacted the nutritional content of fruits and vegetables
Taking nutritional supplements can help you transition to keto
Consider taking omega 3-6-9, vitamin D and magnesium