You already know what you need to get into or stay in ketosis, but what about the nutrients you might be missing from a ketogenic diet?
If you eat keto, you eat too few carbohydrates. However, it is these carbohydrate-rich foods that are also packed with antioxidants, electrolytes, fiber, and other important vitamins and minerals.
While keto has many health benefits, these six supplements can keep you from experiencing nutritional deficiencies or imbalances if you plan to stay in ketosis for any length of time.
The 6 Best Keto Supplements
The ketogenic diet is great for treating epilepsy, improving lipid profiles, and leading to weight loss, but one major drawback is that it can lead to nutrient deficiencies.
Stay nourished while on keto with these best research-based supplements to provide nutritional balance.
Note: Do not take any supplements without first consulting your doctor and be sure to notify them of any new symptoms that appear after you change your diet.
1. Omega 3
The body needs certain types of fatty acids for the brain, heart, and body to function properly. Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly important, with EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) being two essential forms.
Why do you need more omega-3 fatty acids with a ketogenic diet? A typical keto diet profile is higher in omega-6 fatty acids than in omega-3 fatty acids. While both are necessary for health, the omega-6 / omega-3 ratio is crucial. The optimal ratio is 1: 1 or at least 2: 1, but the typical US nutritional ratio is closer to 20: 1. Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids helps reduce inflammation, supports brain health and mental and lipid balance, which are a risk factor for cardiovascular problems when they are high.
How to take: Choose a high-quality EPA / DHA combined fish oil supplement or take krill oil, which contains omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Follow the recommended dosage on the product.
Potassium is a mineral that also acts as an electrolyte. Along with calcium and magnesium, potassium helps regulate body fluid levels, blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle contractions.
When following a ketogenic diet, electrolyte levels can be low as they are usually found in foods high in carbohydrates. The main dietary sources of potassium are bananas, potatoes, and sweet potatoes, most of which are not allowed as part of a ketogenic plan. If the potassium level becomes too low, the following symptoms may occur:
- Raised blood pressure
- Risk of kidney stones
- Bone fracture
- Muscle weakness
Many of these symptoms are also related to what is known as the “keto flu”. By keeping your electrolyte levels in balance, you can prevent this set of symptoms.
How to use it: If you’re on a multivitamin, it probably contains potassium and you don’t need it anymore. Otherwise, choose a multiple electrolyte supplement and follow the dosage instructions. You can also take half a dose or less, depending on what your doctor recommends. The recommended daily allowance of potassium is 4,700 milligrams.
Calcium is known as an essential mineral for bone health, but that’s only part of the story. If the levels are too low, the bones will break down more easily to provide the body with nutrients. This can lead to a long-term risk of osteoporosis and other symptoms, such as:
- Muscle twitching
- Weak/brittle nails
- Easy fractures
- Numbness and tingling in the hands, feet, and/or face
- Thin skin
- Brittle hair
Calcium also acts as an electrolyte in the body, helping cells to maintain adequate fluid levels and cause the blood to clot properly. Rich sources of dietary calcium include dairy products, broccoli, sardines and green leafy vegetables. If you’re on a dairy-free version of keto, chances are you’re not getting enough broccoli and leafy greens to cover your daily intake. A cup of broccoli, for example, contains 61 milligrams of calcium, and your daily goal is between 1,000 and 1,200, depending on your age.
Loss of electrolytes is the cause of the “keto flu” symptoms, and if you exercise in addition, you will experience even more fluid loss.
How to use it: While potassium and calcium act like electrolytes, they have different functions in other parts of the body, so you need both. If you are not taking a multivitamin, choose a multiple electrolyte supplement, and follow the dosage instructions. Taking an all-in-one electrolyte supplement will keep them in balanced proportions and reduce the number of products you need to buy. You can also take half a dose or less, depending on what your doctor recommends. The recommended daily allowance for adult men and women is 1000 mg/day and for women over 50 is 1200 mg/day.
Like calcium and potassium, magnesium is an essential electrolyte. Many people fall under the recommended daily intake of magnesium, which can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and chronic health problems.
Magnesium is vital for heart health, muscle function, immunity, nervous system, bone health, hormonal health, and hundreds of other chemical reactions in the body. It also has a calming effect on the brain, and low levels can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression.
There are many ketogenic sources of magnesium, including almonds, pumpkin seeds, avocados, and leafy green vegetables. However, if you are on a ketogenic diet, you probably don’t eat large amounts of them because they have too many carbohydrates to stay in ketosis. The recommended daily allowance of magnesium is 310-320 milligrams for women and 420 milligrams for men, depending on age. A ¼ cup serving of pumpkin seeds contains a whopping 3 net carbs and only 60 milligrams of magnesium.
How to use: The average daily supplemental dose is 300 milligrams, which can be obtained from a high-quality mineral supplement.
5. Vitamin D3
Few foods are rich enough in vitamin D to provide the required amount each day. If you’re on a ketogenic diet, it probably won’t come close to what you need. Vitamin D comes in two forms: D2 and D3. D2 is usually found in fortified dairy products, but the absorption rate is slower. Vitamin D3 is better absorbed by the body and is considered the most natural form.
Vitamin D is both a nutrient and a hormone because it comes from food sources and sun exposure. It also helps the body absorb and use calcium, magnesium, potassium, and other minerals. In addition, it is necessary for bone health, cardiovascular health, and immunity. And low levels are also associated with chronic health problems and depression. About 41 percent of Americans are deficient in vitamin D at some point due to a lack of exposure to sunlight or the use of sunscreen, preventing the hormonal response from producing vitamin D. ‘There are not many foods with high content, a ketogenic plan limits natural access even further.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient and since it can build up in adipose tissue and lead to toxicity if supplemented with levels that are too high, it is essential that your doctor test your vitamin D levels before starting any supplement. Many doctors consider blood levels between 30 and 60 to be optimal.
How to use: Choose a vitamin D3 supplement, at the dose recommended by your doctor, depending on your blood levels.
Fiber is the bulky food found in fruits and vegetables and helps the digestive tract function optimally. It’s also a type of carbohydrate, so those on a low-carb or ketogenic diet are likely to be significantly lower than their daily fiber requirement.
While people with MS or those who have trouble digesting FODMAPs can thrive in low-fiber environments, many people will develop constipation or intestinal problems if they eat too little fiber.
If you are constipated on the ketogenic diet, you may want to add psyllium husk to your diet. When taken with water, psyllium adds bulk fiber to your digestive tract without increasing your carbohydrate content as this type of fiber is indigestible. It aids in intestinal transit and can also improve lipids and glucose.
If you want to improve your gut health, taking prebiotic fiber can help feed the good bacteria that live in your gut. This type of fiber in supplement form is mostly inulin and well-tolerated by most.
How to use: The recommended daily allowance of fiber is 25 grams per day, although the optimum maybe 50 to 100 grams per day. If you’re not used to taking fiber supplements, start small, as a sudden rise can cause bloating or discomfort. Always take fiber supplements with at least eight ounces of water or whatever the supplement product recommends. Try something like powdered inulin or psyllium powder, starting with a ¼ dose over a week, then gradually increase to a full dose after 4-6 weeks.