The focus of conversations in our Konscious Keto groups, related to the keto diet usually centers around the consumption of healthy fats, but getting our micronutrients is just as important as keeping carbs low on a ketogenic diet.
Our bodies go through many changes as we work to become fat-adapted, so we can efficiently and effortlessly run on fat and ketones for fuel. Even though ketosis offers many benefits, the transition away from sugar and using glucose for fuel is a process.
As we journey into metabolic ketosis, and the body starts eliminating all refined sugars and high-glycemic carbs, we empty our body's glycogen stores and force our systems to seek out another energy source.
Once our glycolytic stores are depleted, our bodies also begin to release an increased amount of body fluid (water weight), vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes—so replenishing the body with essential nutrients more diligently, becomes especially critical on a ketogenic diet.
Our bodies need a spectrum of nutrients to function correctly, and B-complex vitamins play a significant role in keeping our body and brain functioning properly. Keep reading, there's much more on the various roles of B vitamins and why they're crucial to our overall health, that we’ll share below.
What Are B Complex Vitamins?
B-complex vitamins consist of eight water-soluble elements: thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6, folate, vitamin B-12, pantothenic acid, and biotin.
While each of the vitamins within the B-complex vitamin family play a unique role to support our health, they collectively act as a powerful protector against a variety of degenerative diseases and help the body perform at its best.
Primarily, in addition to the varied benefits of each B vitamin, they work in concert to help the body derive energy from the foods we eat. Furthermore, B-complex vitamins aid in supporting healthy vision and skin, and also aids in the formation of red blood cells, along with promoting proper immune function and even appetite regulation!
Why Do You Need Keto B Vitamins?
Keeping an eye on keto B vitamins becomes more critical as we eliminate whole food groups like grains and specific veggies and fruits to keep carbs low enough to establish or maintain metabolic ketosis.
Also, the body is only able to store vitamin B-12, and this makes replenishing the other B-vitamins within this crucial complex of nutrients even more critical to maintain adequate levels.
Although many keto-friendly food sources provide an abundance of B vitamins, you may want to still consider adding in a quality B-complex supplement to your regimen to ensure you get the amount of B vitamins you personally need for optimum health.
B-complex vitamins support so many functions in the body, from maintaining cardiovascular health to promoting healthy brain function and healthy muscle tone—making maintaining proper levels of the utmost importance.
It's also important to note that for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, consuming enough B vitamins becomes crucial to the health of mom and baby.
Furthermore, B vitamins can enhance energy levels and help reduce feelings of nausea during pregnancy, to help you get through your first trimester of morning sickness with fewer trips to the bathroom.
Adequate levels of B-complex are equally essential to prevent potentially dangerous conditions during pregnancy like preeclampsia, which can significantly jeopardize the health of mom and baby.
Benefits of Low-Carb Diet and B Vitamins
We've mentioned the essential nature of regular consumption of B-vitamins. However, there are additional benefits to consuming B vitamins specific to those eating a low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet.
Despite eliminating grains and beans or rice from the diet on keto, those participating in a 2010 study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition noted those on keto can acquire adequate B vitamin levels from food sources alone, save in the case of biotin—where supplementation is advised based on the study findings.
Consider trying a premium biotin supplement to ensure that you're consuming the full B-complex spectrum of nutrients needed to support your lifestyle and nutritional needs.
In addition to being mindful of B-vitamin consumption, there are a few other vital supplements to consider adding to your keto regimen. Here are our suggested supplements for those looking to optimize their health on keto:
- Magnesium: promotes increased energy and helps regulate blood sugar levels, along with providing immune system support
- MCT Oil
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids (salmon, mackerel, cold-pressed fish oil)
- Vitamin D (take a stroll outside and absorb the sun's rejuvenating rays or take a quality supplement to support balanced levels)
- Digestive Enzymes (eating fermented, low-glycemic, foods like pickles, sauerkraut, and olives help to populate the gut with good bacteria to aid in digestion)
- Exogenous Ketones: Premium exogenous ketones, like our Keto Activate, are an excellent tool to use to boost ketones for a burst of energy
- Greens Powder: Keto is often centered around eating a plethora of animal products, but getting your greens is still essential
Fortunately, it's no problem to find nutrient-dense powder forms of greens easily combined into beverages, or other foods, that make it easy to get your daily dose of micronutrients.
And again, many food options are keto-friendly and filled with essential B vitamins. Here are some excellent foods to help you ensure you hit your B vitamin target:
- Liver and other organ meats (liver, kidney, heart)
- Red meats (grass-fed beef or lamb)
- Seafood (salmon, oysters, clams, mussels, trout)
- Dairy (nut milk or cheese)
- Dark leafy greens (kale, chard or spinach)
- Nuts and seeds (sunflower seeds, pistachios, sesame seeds)
- Chicken and turkey
- Nutritional yeast (a great ingredient to add for a cheesy flavor that's packed with B-12)
- Spirulina and chlorella
Eating organ meats are certainly encouraged on a standard ketogenic diet, and this is promising for anyone looking to boost B-complex, as well.
Organ meats, especially beef liver, are a rich source of B vitamins and are an excellent way to hit your needed requirements each day, along with benefiting from other necessary minerals offered by offal meats, like iron.
Electrolyte Supplements or Mineral-Rich Foods
In a perfect world, we would get all of our needed nutrition through a nutrient-dense, organic food-based source, but many factors can make supplementation advisable—especially on a ketogenic diet.
Our bodies release more fluid (water weight), salt, electrolytes, vitamins and minerals as we eliminate most carbs and all refined sugars from our meal plan, on the road to ketosis.
While eating a micronutrient-focused ketogenic diet, filled with nutritious foods like liver, kale, low-glycemic fruit and delicious grass-fed butter can provide ample nutrition, supplementation can provide your system with additional needed support.
Signs of B Vitamin Deficiency
You may be unaware of symptoms occurring in your body that could indicate a possible B-complex deficiency. Here are some signs to look for and which related mineral you might be lacking:
Signs of a sodium deficiency: fatigue, headaches, feelings of physical weakness or difficulty concentrating
Solution: Don't be afraid to generously add quality, mineral-rich sea salt to your meals to regularly replenish nutrients in your body, throughout the day.
Daily need: 3 – 7 g of sodium (7 – 17 g of salt, 1-3 teaspoons)
Also, consider sipping on some delicious and soothing grass-fed beef bone broth, with a massive dollop of salted pastured butter a couple of times a day to keep your micronutrients at optimal levels.
Here are a few suggestions to help you get your daily dose of sodium:
- Add a teaspoon of sea salt to a liter of water and drink it throughout the day
- Sip on bone broth once or twice a day for a boost of electrolytes
- Use a bouillon cube and hot water for a broth alternative
- Lastly, make sure to stay hydrated throughout the day, which will help you remain energized.
Signs of a potassium deficiency: muscle cramping, heart palpitations or muscle twitching
Solution: Add a whole avocado sprinkled with sea salt to your meal plan each day, or make ample amounts of sautéed spinach swimming in grass-fed butter as a side dish to keep in heavy rotation throughout the week, and you should be all set.
Daily need: 3,000–4,700 mg of potassium (3–4.7 g)
Here are a few suggestions to help get your daily dose of potassium:
- Avocado 1,000 mg per medium avocado (200 grams)
- Swiss chard, cooked 950 mg per cup (175 grams)
- Spinach, cooked 840 mg per cup (180 grams)
- Mushrooms, cooked 550 mg per cup (150 grams)
- Brussels sprouts: 500 mg per cup (160 grams)
- Broccoli, cooked 460 mg per cup (160 grams)
- Salmon 430–500 mg per 4 ounces (114 grams)
- Meat 400–500 mg per 4 ounces (114 grams)
- Flounder 400 mg per 4 ounces (114 grams)
- Artichoke 345 mg per medium artichoke (121 grams)
- Hemp seeds 335 mg per ounce (30 grams)
- Almonds 200 mg per ounce (30 grams)
Signs of a magnesium deficiency: post-workout muscle twitching or cramping
Magnesium is rarely deficient in those on a ketogenic diet because the ideal foods related to this eating style lean toward providing an abundance of this crucial mineral.
However, increasing more mineral-rich foods or adding a supplement may be needed.
Daily need: 400 mg magnesium
Here are a few suggestions to help get your daily dose of magnesium:
- Hemp seeds 195 mg per ounce (30 grams)
- Swiss chard, cooked 150 mg per cup (175 grams)
- Pumpkin seeds, dried 150 mg per ounce (30 grams)
- Mackerel 105 mg per 4 ounces (114 grams)
- Chia seeds 95 mg per ounce (30 grams)
- Dark chocolate (70–85% cacao) 70–90 mg per ounce (30 grams)
- Almonds 75 mg per ounce (30 grams)
- Spinach, cooked 75 mg per cup (180 grams)
- Pine nuts 70 mg per ounce (30 grams)
- Avocado 60 mg per medium avocado (200 grams)
- Artichoke 50 mg per medium artichoke (120 grams)
While there are many food-based sources of potassium that work well on keto, you may still want to take a premium supplement if your diet is less-than-balanced and you're noticing any of the symptoms of a possible deficiency as noted above.
Delight in a savory mackerel fritter, fried lightly to perfection in omega-3-rich avocado oil. Or add edible seeds like chia, hemp, and pumpkin, along with nuts like almonds to keep levels balanced.
How to Get the Keto B Vitamins You Need
Consider adding more of the ingredients mentioned above into your weekly meal plan. The food options shared above all provide an abundance of B vitamins, along with other minerals and vitamins, and are an excellent blueprint to keep you feeling your best on keto.
Structure your meal plan with a focus on eating the densest sources of vitamin B-complex, like liver, seafood and avocado, that you can source. Again, an extra bonus to eating the noted foods is their broad spectrum of nutrients that all support optimal brain and body function—you'll be boosting overall health by eating food rich in B-complex vitamins.
Most of us don't eat a perfect diet every day, even if the foods we eat are sugar-free whole foods that are otherwise pretty healthy. Despite even our best efforts, we can sometimes develop deficiencies that we may not even realize are there.
Supplements are a great way to add a little extra security to your regimen so that your body still has the nutrients it needs, even if your dietary discipline takes a hit during a given week.
For more information on getting started on the ketogenic diet, along with a meal plan to jumpstart your results, review this article, here.
We all live busy lives, with hectic schedules, and never-ending to-do lists—trust us, we can relate, and we understand. Shortfalls in our nutrition can occur, even if we are making an effort to mind our macros and micros.
If you prefer going exclusively with a food-based approach; source the best quality ingredients possible—and keep the focus primarily on organic, whole foods.
As we've shared, there are so many food-based sources to turn to when keeping it keto and nutrient-dense. Experiment and enjoy discovering new recipes or remixes of family-loved recipes as you go.
A ketogenic diet naturally encourages consuming foods that are rich in B-complex vitamins, and that attribute is undoubtedly on our side. Most would be hard-pressed to ever really get bored when there are so many ways to mix and match foods and varying flavors, all while keeping it low-carb.
Don't sweat perfection, but use the foods noted above as a guideline to keep yourself in the ideal intake range. Remember, a diet rich in B vitamins will keep your appetite satiated, and your brain and body feeling rejuvenated and energized—so, eat up to your health!
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- Vitamins Of The B Complex. (1956). The Lancet, 267(6906), 39-40. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(56)91876-1
- Vranceanu, M. (2017). Long term effects of a ketogenic diet with Mav Ketofast pro supplements in obese postmenopausal women. International Journal of Growth and Development, 1(1), 33. doi:10.25081/ijgd.2017.v1i1.34