Vitamins and Supplements on a Keto Diet [When You Need Them and When You Don’t]

  • Date: May 14, 2022
  • Time to read: 12 min.

There is no doubt that ‘going keto’ is a big change in the way that most of us are used to eating, but do you need additional vitamins and supplements on the keto diet to maintain your health? Nutrient deficiency is something that we all worry about, keto or not. Here we will take you through everything you need to know, including when you do and do not need supplements – don’t get scammed. 

What are Supplements?

A supplement is a product that contains vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids, enzymes, hormones, etc. These supplements are usually sold in pill form.

They are often used for health reasons such as weight loss, energy, immune system support, and muscle recovery.

In keto terms, some people will use supplements to ensure that they are getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals in their daily diet as well as taking additional supplements to try and get them into ketosis quicker and keep them there.

But are all supplements necessary? Read on to find out more.

Why May You Need Supplements when Eating a Keto Diet?

If you’re new to keto and want a bit more information, check out our keto beginners guide.

As a quick summary, if you need it, the keto (also known as the ketogenic diet) is a low-carb, high-fat diet (LCHF).

The whole concept of the keto diet is that your body transitions from burning glucose, in simple terms, sugars or carbohydrates, to burning fat as its primary fuel source.

For a keto diet, people will restrict their macros to eating;

  • 70% of their calories are from fat
  • 25% from protein
  • 5% from carbohydrates

Sticking to these macros for a period of time will put your body into a state of ketosis. Ketosis is when your body has transitioned from burning carbohydrates as its primary fuel source to burning fat for fuel. It is at this point that you will start to see and feel the benefits of the keto diet.

It is the role of the liver to convert amino acids into small amounts of glucose. This process is called glucogenesis. This is when ketone bodies (ketones) are created.

Eventually, your body will become what is known as ‘fat adapted‘. In simple terms, this means that your body is accustomed to burning fat as its primary fuel source and it will function this way as its default setting.

There are a lot of new terms and abbreviations that you may come across, sometimes it can feel like a new language that you need to learn. In order to help you out and keep you on the right track, we have created a keto terms and keto abbreviations guide, bookmark these to make your keto journey easier.

Some people can be put off the keto diet because of the side effects, however, these are only short-lived and the health benefits of keto far outweigh the side effects.

There is no doubt that the process of getting into ketosis and remaining there is a massive change to the way your body is used to functioning.

Supplements may be able to assist your body with this transition and speed up your journey to your health and keto goals. So let’s go through vitamins and supplements that you are likely to come across on the keto diet. We will take you through them in turn, when, and why you may need them. We will also flag where these supplements are not essential to a keto diet.   

What Supplements May You Need to Take?

Here we will go through the most common supplements which are discussed in relation to the keto diet. If you know what you are looking for, feel free to jump to the section that interests you.

Potassium

Here’s what more potassium does for the body:

  • It helps regulate fluid balance 
  • It is important for the nervous system
  • It regulates muscles and heart contractions 
  • It can reduce blood pressure
  • Can offer protection against strokes 
  • It can prevent osteoporosis 
  • It can prevent kidney stones 
  • It can reduce water retention

Bet you didn’t know all of that, that’s why it is essential to ensure that your potassium levels are in balance, regardless of whether you are eating a keto diet or not. 

There is no doubt that the role of potassium is underappreciated.

Symptoms of low potassium include;

  • Weakness and fatigue 
  • Cramps 
  • Digestive problems 
  • Abnormal heartbeat 
  • Breathing difficulty 
  • Tingling and numbness 
  • High blood pressure 

Rather than defaulting to taking potassium supplements, they and up your intake of keto potassium-rich foods.

Some options include clams, mushrooms, avocado, pumpkin seeds, leafy greens (such as swiss chard spinach and broccoli), fatty fish, brussel sprouts, and pork. 

If you are interested in learning more about potassium supplements, why not check out our article which will take you through everything you need to know, including how much potassium you need on a keto diet.

Magnesium

Magnesium acts as a natural calcium blocker for the body, which keeps muscles relaxed. It also maintains healthy brain functioning and a healthy heartbeat.

In addition, magnesium is also known to;

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce the risk of heart disease
  • Control blood sugar levels
  • Improve sleep quality

Symptoms of too little magnesium can include;

  • Shaking
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Muscle spasms 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pins and needles 
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Fatigue and weakness

Keto-friendly foods naturally high in magnesium include;

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Spinach 
  • Avocado
  • Mackerel 
  • Spinach
  • Almonds
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Artichokes
  • Flax seeds
  • Fatty fish
  • Chicken
  • Leafy Greens (Spinach, Swiss Chard, Kale)

As you will see there are more than enough keto-friendly foods which are high in magnesium. Supplements should not be required.

Check out our article on magnesium and the keto diet if you want to find out more.

Sodium

Get ready for the answer to the question as to why you pee so much on the keto diet!

Glycogen stored in our body holds a lot of water, as we start reducing the number of carbohydrates we are consuming, the body uses up its existing supplies.

When the body uses up the glycogen (glucose), the water that was held within it is also used and is secreted in the urine. Sodium is excreted in your urine.

Furthermore, sodium is found in a lot of processed products, which are not consumed on a keto diet.

Symptoms that you have too little sodium in your diet could be;

  • Fatigue (or general weakness)
  • Brain Fog (or loss of focus)
  • Headaches

Do you need a sodium supplement?

Probably not! There are a lot of ‘keto’ sodium supplements available on the market. The reality is that you do not need these expensive supplements.

Sodium is one of the main minerals found in salt (note that they are not the same thing). 

Rather than spending money on expensive sodium supplements, add some pink Himalayan salt to your diet. It is less processed than table salt and should provide you with the minerals you need.

If you think you may have a sodium deficiency or just want to know more about sodium, check out our article, How Much Sodium Do You Need on Keto? This will take you through everything you need to know.

Calcium

The majority of people not eating a keto diet will get the majority of their calcium from milk, fortified cereals, and other dairy products.

Calcium is a mineral that is required by your body in small quantities. It helps build bones, as well as assisting the heart in pumping blood around the body.

Common symptoms of having too little calcium in your diet include;

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Nail and skin problems
  • Osteopenia and osteoporosis
  • Tooth Decay and Gum Disease
  • Rickets
  • Depression
  • Numbness and Tingling
  • Muscle Cramps & Spasms
  • Abnormal Heart Rhythm
  • Confusion and Memory Loss

The good news is that you should not have to take a calcium supplement because of eating a keto diet. There are plenty of keto-friendly foods which are calcium-rich such as the below;

  • 1 cup of cooked Broccoli contains 62 mg of Calcium
  • 100 g of Sesame Seeds contains 1000 mg of Calcium
  • 1 oz Sunflower Seeds contains 20 mg of calcium
  • A 3.5 Ounce Chia Seeds serving contains 631 mg
  • 100 grams Kale serving contains 254 mg of Calcium
  • 1 Ounce of Almonds contains 200 mg of Calcium
  • Full-fat dairy products

So, are you getting enough calcium on the keto diet?

As you can see with all of the minerals, no dietary supplements should be required as a result of the keto diet, and all of the minerals can be gained from common keto-friendly foods. 

Vitamin Supplements You May Need On Keto

We have been through the common minerals that you may be lacking, certainly in the early days of transitioning onto a keto diet, but let’s have a look at some of the common vitamins.

Vitamin A

As a general rule, nothing in the process of transitioning onto a keto diet should cause you to become efficient in vitamin A.

Here are the signs that you may be running low on Vitamin A –

  • Night blindness (struggle seeing in twilight)
  • Dry eyes
  • Skin irritations
  • You become prone to infections immune system becomes weak without Vitamin A
  • Hazy vision
  • Gastrointestinal issues

Keto-friendly foods which you can naturally get vitamin A from include;

  • Oily fish (omega-3 fatty acids)
  • Salmon
  • Liver
  • Leafy greens (kale, spinach, swiss chard)

If you think you may have a vitamin A deficiency, or want to know more about the relationship between vitamin A and the keto diet check out our article, Keto Vitamin A Deficiency.

Vitamin B

A lot of meats and fish contain vitamin B, as you will probably know, both of these foods are commonly eaten on a regular keto diet. This means that if you are eating a regular keto diet, you are not likely to struggle to get enough vitamin B.

However, if you are eating a vegan keto diet, it is possible that you will struggle to get enough B vitamins.

Signs of a lack of vitamin B include;

  • Insomnia
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pain
  • Upset stomach
  • Depression
  • Hands and feet going numb

Some may even experience confusion, loss of appetite, weakness, memory loss, and heart problems Check out our article on the keto diet and vitamin B if you are interested in finding out more.

Vitamin B12

Although we’ve discussed vitamin B above, we will address vitamin B12 levels separately.   Again, as with the other B vitamins, the keto diet is not likely to lead to a deficiency in B12. However, some people do have a vitamin B12 deficiency and will be taking supplements for this. 

Can You Take B12 While on the Keto Diet?

If you need to take a vitamin B12 supplement, take it, do not worry.  Check out this article on vitamin B12 if you want to know more.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is widely known for having antioxidant properties. It helps in maintaining the immune system and protects against oxidative stress.  It is also required
  On a traditional western diet, a lot of our vitamin C will come from citrus fruits and potatoes. As you will be eliminating these from a keto diet, and really restricting consumption on a low carb diet.   Symptoms of having too little vitamin C;

  • Tired
  • Weak
  • Irritable
  • Dull Skin

  The good news is that you do need to reach for the supplements. Vitamin C can be found in a lot of healthy foods which are also keto-friendly such as;

  • Peppers 
  • Strawberries 
  • Blackcurrants 
  • Broccoli 
  • Brussels 
  • Sprouts 
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Tomatoes

All of the above are keto-friendly and should be factored into a healthy diet.

For more information, check out our article, How To Get Vitamin C On Keto.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin containing Vitamin D1, D2, and D3. When the body is exposed to the sun, it produces Vitamin D. Besides this, one can also get Vitamin D from different food items to maintain its adequate levels in the body. 

Having a balanced level of Vitamin D in the body is proven to offer the following benefits:

  • It strengthens the immune system
  • It might prevent certain types of cancer
  • It may improve brain function
  • It improves the texture and health of the skin
  • It boosts your mood
  • It can aid in weight loss
  • It can lower the risk of rheumatoid arthritis
  • It lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes
  • It can help lower blood pressure
  • It might reduce the risk of heart disease 

If you are following a keto diet, there are plenty of vitamin D rich foods you can eat you can eat, such as;

  • Salmon
  • Egg yolk
  • Canned tuna
  • Mushrooms
  • Sardines
  • Swiss cheese
  • Other dairy products
  • Beef liver

You can also take a cod liver oil supplement in order to top up your vitamin D, but this should not be necessary with a balanced keto diet.

Check out this article if you want to read more about vitamin D on keto.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is essential for a number of functions such as;

  • Improving vision
  • Maintaining cholesterol
  • Supports the immune system
  • Reducing the risk of cancer
  • Preventing skin damage
  • Hair growth

  Vitamin E is largely found in keto-friendly foods, so you should not encounter a deficiency as a result of eating a keto diet.

If you are looking at how to get Vitamin E on keto, there are some great options to help you out. 

Here is our list of keto food sources of Vitamin E –

  • Nuts as in Almonds
  • Avocado
  • Asparagus
  • Spinach
  • Beets greens
  • Collards
  • Sunflower seeds

Vitamin E supplements are fine to take on a keto diet. For more, check out our article on the topic.

Vitamin K

It is very unlikely that you will be deficient in vitamin k because of eating a keto diet. Vitamin K is essential for making various proteins as well as blood clotting. Keto-friendly foods which are high in vitamin k include;

  • Kale
  • Collard greens
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Cabbage
  • Lettuce

Check out our article for more on vitamin K and the keto diet.

Other Supplements You May Want To Consider On Keto.

There are plenty of other common supplements that are pushed on people eating a keto diet.

MCT Oil

MCT Oil is a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT), which contains medium-length chains of fats called triglycerides. They are naturally high in good fats, which makes it great to add to your keto coffee to bump up the fat content. This will make you feel fuller for longer.    MCT oils can be expensive to buy. Coconut oil is very similar in structure to MCT and is a lot cheaper to buy.

Diet Supplements that the Big Companies Will Try and Sell You

Some of the biggest keto blogs and companies will try and sell you a whole host of ‘keto’ supplements that you really do not need if you are eating a keto diet. 

Why? It is simple, to make money.

Probably anybody running a blog is making money through ads, like the ones you will see on this site. Alongside that, they will make money through affiliate marketing (recommending products).

When you click on the link, it will not cost you anything, but the owner may receive a small commission. The bigger blogs/websites are designed to make money, with serving an audience being secondary to this.

Therefore, they will recommend anything to you to try and make money, what is more, they will recommend the product with the highest commission and not the best product.

Here, we’re more interested in offering you information to support you on your keto journey. If we give you good advice, hopefully, you will keep coming back.

Anyway, back to the point, there are a lot of keto products that are advertised as being ‘essential’, they are not essential at all. We will take you through some of the most commonly recommended products that you do not need below.

Exogenous Ketones

As the production of ketones is one of the first steps to ketosis, some suggest taking additional ketones, exogenous ketones to help speed up this process.

Studies to date have been inconclusive as to their effectiveness in getting a person’s ketosis quicker.

The reality is, that if you are following a keto diet, your body will naturally be producing ketones, therefore supplementing this will not be necessary.

If you are still insistent on wanting ketones, check out our article on the topic.

How to Track Vitamins and Minerals on Keto?

Hopefully, by the end of this article, you have realized that by eating a well-planned and balanced keto diet, you should not be nutrient deficient in any way. If you do find yourself in this situation you should seek the advice of your healthcare provider to discuss your concerns. 

Using an app such as MyFitnessPal will allow you to track all of your vitamins and mineral intake to ensure that you are giving your body all of the essential nutrients that it needs to stay fit and healthy.

Final Thoughts: Vitamins and Minerals on the Keto Diet

Vitamins and minerals are essential to healthy body functions, regardless or not as to whether you are on a keto diet. Hopefully, here we have taken you through some of the main supplements that are recommended for keto dieters and when they are necessary or not.

What are your thought on supplements on the keto diet? Let us know in the comments below.

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