Vitamins are Vital to Good Health
Sadly the quality of our food has decreased over the years and it's harder to get all the vitamins and minerals we need from our food alone.
Let's talk vitamins for a minute. One of the common themes in almost all of the nutrition books I read is that we are lacking in vitamins. Sadly the quality of our food has decreased over the years and it's harder to get all the vitamins and minerals we need from our food alone. Plus the fact that we, as a society, have gotten so used to eating convenience foods, processed foods, and fast food and there's no chance of getting the nutrients we need from those types of foods.
If you're sticking to the low-carb/keto lifestyle and making sure you get plenty of good foods in your diet - healthy vegetables, good quality meat/proteins, and healthy fats - then you're definitely on the right track and you're getting valuable vitamins and minerals. However most of us probably need more than we're getting with our food.
When James and I first started our supplement regimen I researched good brands to take and found that Nature Made (which is available at Target) and Costco brands are both really high quality and also affordable. We have chosen to supplement with Vitamin D, Vitamin C, a multivitamin to make sure we are at optimal levels with those.
As for what vitamins we need in our diets and what can help us get them, here is a list - not exhaustive by any means but a great place to start for optimal health.
The best source of vitamin D is from the sun. Spending time outside every day is so good for you. Studies show that vitamin D is the vitamin that most Americans are deficient in and it’s causing major health issues. It’s strongly associated with mortality rates for many of our modern diseases. (Did you know that a very high percentage of people who suffered the most or passed away due to Covid were found to be deficient in vitamin D?) We should be getting about 4,000 to 5,000 IU per day but up to 10,000 IU per day has no toxicity - evidence suggests you’d have to get 30,000 IU to experience any toxicity. So how do we get that? Spend 20-30 minutes a day in the sun with skin exposure - shorts and a tank/t-shirt or a swimsuit.
I won’t get too deep into this here - I could write a whole post about this - but many people fear the sun and slather sunscreen all over their bodies every time they go outside. That’s not necessary. In fact, that can be more toxic than the sun! Do you want to spend hours and hours in the sun with no protection and get severe sun burns? No. But it’s okay to be in the sun and soak up those rays for smaller increments of time without burning. Why do people fear it? Skin cancer. But we’ve been misled. Shocking I know. Take a look at this quote:
Melanoma is the skin cancer with serious mortality implications, and sun exposure without burning has never been proven to increase the risk of melanoma. In fact, some studies indicate the opposite could even be true—that exposure to sun without burning decreases the risk of acquiring or dying from melanoma. (emphasis mine)
- Cummins, Ivor. Eat Rich, Live Long (p. 494). Victory Belt Publishing. Kindle Edition.
As I said, I could go on and on with that, and I’ll share more about this later but vitamin D is important and we get that from the sun and through supplements.
Some great sources of foods with magnesium are avocados, full fat yogurt (not the “dessert” yogurts), brazil nuts, almonds, and dark chocolate (should to be 80% or more). A deficiency in magnesium can cause an increased risk in cardiovascular disease so you’re doing your heart good to get enough magnesium in your diet or through supplements. You can take 300 mg a day as a supplement if you’re getting some in your food as well.
Great sources of foods for vitamin K2 would be grass-fed butter, cheese, goose liver pate, organ meats, grass-fed meats, sauerkraut, and fermented vegetables. These are also important for cardiovascular health and will prevent calcification of the blood vessels. This vitamin is also needed to distribute calcium to the parts of the body that require it. If you need to supplement, you can add 200 mcg a day.
Foods like shellfish, seaweed, eggs, and cheese can help you get iodine in your diet. Some studies have shown that iodine could be beneficial in preventing breast cancer. Breast cancer is so prevalent today, that’s a great reason to make sure to have this! Iodine is also needed for healthy thyroid - something very important for hormones in your body. Kelp tablets are good supplement option if you need to supplement and you need at least 290 mcg a day.
Some other vitamins that you can focus on in your diet:
Some great sources for this vitamin are eggs, liver, grass-fed butter, heavy cream, broccoli, spinach, and dark leafy greens. If you need to supplement, cod liver oil is great option. Vitamin A is needed to interact with the vitamin D in your body to keep things healthy.
You can eat eggs, liver, grass-fed butter, heavy cream, hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, spinach, and broccoli to get vitamin E in your body. This vitamin is needed for antioxidant effects.
You can get your B vitamins through eggs, cheese, pork, shellfish, fresh vegetables, and organ meats. The B vitamins include B12, B6, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, and biotin. These help your body turn food into energy and a deficiency can result in neurological diseases and cardiovascular diseases.
This is such an important one because it supports healthy immunity. And the last (almost) three years have shown us how important that is. You can get vitamin C through asparagus, berries, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lemons, limes, dark leafy greens, bell peppers, and tomatoes. Vitamin C helps repair and regenerate tissue, protects against heart disease, prevents scurvy, protects against a variety of cancers, and, as I mentioned, supports healthy immunity.
Zinc and Copper
The ratios of the two of these are important. They’re needed to interact with magnesium and fat-soluble vitamins. You can get zinc through lamb, beef, cocoa, yogurt, and spinach and you can get copper through organ meats, seafood, dark chocolate, hazelnuts, and brazil nuts.
Selenium is needed for proper thyroid functioning. You can get this in your diet through brazil nuts, lobster, oysters, shrimp, beef, pork, and lamb.
As you start a low-carb diet you might suffer from the “keto flu” and feel kind of terrible in the beginning. That’s usually because you’re low on electrolytes - essential minerals your body needs. Potassium is one of these and you can get this through avocados, spinach, and wild salmon. So if you’re keeping your potassium levels high enough, you’ll reduce the effects of keto flu.
Yes, your body needs sodium. This is also something that I could write a whole post about because of the misleading advice being given about sodium these days. But our bodies need it to function. But regular table salt is not the healthy choice. You want pink Himalayan salt, sea salt, or kosher salt - the true mineral. People worry that they are eating too much salt but it’s far more likely your intake is too low rather than too high on a low-carb diet. Part of that is because processed foods are full of added salt - and not the good salt. ;) A real food diet will not have tons of added salt and will require more being added. So salt that food with high quality salt if you’ve eliminated processed foods. (If you want to learn more you can read The Salt Fix by Dr. James DiNicolantonio.)
Chromium is needed to help regulate blood sugar. You can get this by eating beef, turkey, liver, lobster, oysters, shrimp, tomatoes, spinach, onion, broccoli, garlic, and green peppers.
This is only available as a supplement. It’s helpful in the treatment of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome and reduces blood glucose and triglycerides. It also improves LDL particle quality (big fluffy LDL are fine - small, dense LDL can cause problems).
As I mentioned above, most of the books I read that address vitamin deficiency will talk about most of these. For the purposes of this post, I gathered most of my information from Eat Rich, Live Long by Ivor Cummins - truly one of the best books I’ve read to help us understand how we got to where we are and how to turn it around. It includes great practical advice too. I’ll be doing a full book review of it soon too. :)
What about you - do you have other vitamins you like to take that you feel like have benefitted you?