Are you missing out on these keto micronutrients? Here’s how these crucial nutrients play a role in your very low-carb diet!

Vitamins : Important keto micronutrients

Vitamin C

Why is it important?
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin needed for healing and protein synthesis. Vitamin C also has antioxidant properties.

How much do I need per day?*
Men 19 years and older: 90 mg
Women 19 years and older: 60 mg

Typically found in:
Fruits (especially citrus fruits) and vegetables (especially bell peppers and tomatoes).Low-carb sources:

  • Red bell pepper, 1/2 cup: 90 mg
  • Broccoli, 1/2 cup raw: 51 mg
  • Brussels sprouts, 1/2 cup cooked: 48 mg
  • Cauliflower 1/2 cup raw: 26 mg

Note:
Vitamin C can be destroyed by heat, making raw foods a more reliable source.

Folate

Why is it important?
A water-soluble “b-vitamin”, folate is needed for DNA production, red blood cell formation and for prevention of neural tube defects.

How much do I need per day?*
Men and women 19 years and older: 400 mcg

Typically found in:
Many foods, including vegetables (especially dark green leafy vegetables), fruits, nuts, beans, peas, seafood, eggs, dairy products, meat, poultry and grains (including fortified grains).Low-carb sources:

  • Spinach, 1/2 cup boiled: 131 mg
  • Asparagus, 1/2 cup cooked: 89 mg
  • Avocado, 1/2 cup sliced: 59 mg
  • Spinach, 1 cup raw: 58 mg

Vitamin D

Why is it important?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin needed for calcium absorption, bone formation, and immune function. Meeting vitamin D needs can be challenging, whether on a low-carb diet or not.

How much do I need per day?*
Men and women 19-70 years: 600 IU
Men and woman 70 years and older: 800 IU

Note:
there is debate about optimal vitamin D intake and blood levels. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have questions about your specific needs.

Typically found in:
Fatty fish, fish oils, and fortified milk/milk substitutes. Our body also produces vitamin D from sun exposure, though this is not a consistent and reliable source for many people.Low-carb sources:

  • Cod liver oil, 1 tablespoon: 1360 IU
  • Trout, 3 oz cooked: 645 IU
  • Mushrooms exposed to UV light, 1/2 cup raw: 366 IU
  • Fortified almond milk or others, 8 oz: 100 IU (typically)

*See a full listing of vitamin recommendations here.

Minerals: Important keto micronutrients

Magnesium

Why is it important?
Magnesium plays a role in blood pressure control, muscle contraction, nerve function, energy production, and bone development. Magnesium can also help with insulin sensitivity, making it a valuable keto micronutrient for anyone with prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes.

How much do I need per day?*
Men 19-30 years: 400 mg; 31 years and older: 420 mg
Women 19-30 years: 310 mg; 31 years and older: 320 mg

Typically found in:
Beans, whole grains, green leafy veggies, nuts, seeds, milk, yogurt, and some fish. High fiber foods are often high in magnesium.Low-carb sources:

  • Swiss chard, 1 cup cooked: 150 mg
  • Dark chocolate, 1 1/2 oz: 97 mg
  • Mackerel, 3 oz cooked: 85 mg
  • Cashews, 1 oz: 74 mg
  • Edamame, 1/2 cup shelled: 50 mg

Potassium

Why is it important?
Potassium plays a critical role in nerve and muscle function, cell function, fluid balance and blood pressure control. Potassium is an especially important keto micronutrient, as potassium can be lost in the urine during the first phase of ketosis.

How much do I need per day?**
Men 19 years and older: 3400 mg
Women 19 years and older: 2600 mg

Typically found in:
Fruits, vegetables, milk, yogurt, beans, meat, poultry and fish.Low-carb sources:

  • Avocado, 1/2 each: 352 mg
  • Edamame, 1/2 c shelled: 338 mg
  • Chicken breast, 3 oz cooked: 332 mg
  • Kale, 1 cup chopped: 233 mg
  • Mushrooms: 1 cup sliced, raw: 223 mg
  • Almonds, 1 oz: 200 mg

Note:
The 2020 changes to the Nutrition Facts label require potassium to be listed in mg on the label, making it easier to track intake.

Calcium

Why is it important?
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the human body and is important for bone health and blood vessel, nerve and muscle function.

How much do I need per day?*
Men 19-70 years: 1000 mg; 71 years and older: 1200 mg
Women 19-50 years: 1000 mg; 51 years and older: 1200 mg

Typically found in:
Milk, cheese, yogurt, fortified dairy substitutes, tofu made with calcium, sardines with bones, leafy green vegetables.Low-carb sources:

  • Canned sardines with bones, 3 oz: 325 mg
  • Cheddar cheese, 1 1/2 oz: 307 mg
  • Fortified almond milk or other milk substitutes, 8 oz: 300 mg (typically)
  • Tofu made with calcium sulfate, 1/2 cup: 138 mg
  • Kale, 1 cup cooked: 94 mg

**See a full listing of mineral recommendations here

Do I need to take a multivitamin or other supplements on a keto diet?

In most cases, a multivitamin is recommended while on a keto diet. While multivitamins cannot replace all nutrients found in foods, they can fill in some important keto micronutrient gaps. Be sure to check the carbohydrate level, especially in chewable vitamins. Men and postmenopausal women typically do not need multivitamins with iron.

As far as other supplements, caution is warranted. For example, high doses of magnesium supplements can have digestive side effects and cause blood pressure lowering.

High doses of calcium supplements can increase the risk of kidney stones and are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Calcium from food sources is preferred.

Over-the-counter potassium supplements are minimal in potassium, therefore food sources tend to be the best option. If you take a medication that can alter your potassium levels (including some diuretics and blood pressure medications) or if you have kidney disease, it is important to talk with your healthcare provider before taking a potassium supplement.

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