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Are you getting enough micronutrients?
By The Low Carb Clinic, 9 April 2019
Low-carb isn’t about loading up on ‘fat bombs,’ nor is it about avoiding vegetables and whole food proteins, ‘chasing ketones’ or relying on shakes, bars and powders. Low-carb is a lifestyle: it’s about long-term dietary changes that promote a wide variety of whole foods, maximising nutrient density.
Remember that micronutrients are always better absorbed when they come from whole foods (which include important anti-oxidants, fibre, and complementary nutrients), rather than as supplements. Are you getting enough micronutrients?
By enjoying a wide variety of nourishing, low-carbohydrate whole foods, and limiting processed and refined foods, you’ll help your body stay well and ensure you give it all the nutrients it needs. When first transitioning to a low-carbohydrate diet, lowered glucose and insulin levels means our bodies tend to flush out water, sodium and potassium. Low levels of potassium may cause constipation, irritability, anxiety, muscle cramps, and heart palpitations. Ensure you are eating a range of low-carb, high potassium foods, including:
Spinach (840 mg in one cup, as well as high levels of vitamin A, calcium and manganese)
Avocado (about 1000 mg per avocado, as well as vitamin C, B6, fibre and folate)
Salmon (about 1200 mg per fillet, as well as high levels of omega-3 fatty acids)
Mushrooms (about 650 mg in a 200 gram serve, as well as vitamin D and magnesium)
Low sodiumcan cause symptoms like weakness, irritability, and headaches. Ensure you are getting enough sodium in your diet by adding it to taste to foods - don’t fear salt, and trust your palate: your body is very good at regulating salt balance naturally . Choose a high-quality salt, like Pink Himalayan or Celtic (grey) salt: they contain more calcium, potassium, and iron than regular table salt does .
Many ‘staple’ carbohydrates (like wheat flour and sugar) have been fortified with nutrients that we are commonly deficient in – including thiamine (vitamin B1), folic acid and vitamin D. On a low-carbohydrate diet, ensure you get enough of these micronutrients by enjoying:
B1: leafy greens, red meat and nuts
Folic acid: Brussel sprouts, dark green leafy greens, liver, asparagus, egg, seafood
Vitamin D: sunshine! As well as fish, seafood, eggs and mushrooms
To get the full range of essential micronutrients, don’t be scared of low-carbohydrate vegetables, animal foods, and dairy (if you tolerate it). This doesn’t mean expensive ‘green’ powders or nutrient fortified drinks or protein bars! Super-easy, super-food choices on a low-carbohydrate diet include:
Eggs (from free-range hens) contain 13 essential vitamins and minerals – including vitamin D, choline and selenium, high quality fats and protein. Ever thought of owning some chickens?
Sardines (wild-caught) – one serve contains almost 40% of your daily calcium requirements, and almost 50% of your daily vitamin D requirements, plus magnesium, iron, protein and healthy fats (but make sure you buy them packed in spring-water or olive oil, NOT vegetable oil).
Liver – just 100 grams of liver contains high amounts of vitamin A, B-6 and iron
Broccoli – broccoli is high in fibre, vitamin C, potassium and vitamin A.
Rocket – contains high amounts of vitamin K1, A, C, calcium, and magnesium.
As an easy way to ensure great micronutrient status, try rotating protein sources (from red meat, seafood, eggs, and organ meats) and changing the colour of your vegetables each night. Remember that fibre is important in feeding your gut microbiota and protecting your digestive system, which has beneficial effects all over the body. Grow your own herbs and add liberally to meals – you’ll be amazed by what some fresh herbs and salt can do!
Essential nutrients are nutrients we need to consume for survival since our body can’t make them. The fact is that with regular high carb meals, virtually all the nutrients are in the low-carb parts of the meal – the filling in the sandwich, the sauce on the pasta etc. Remember there are no essential carbohydrates – but there are essential fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals: all of which can be found in a low-carbohydrate diet. By choosing nutrient dense foods, you will maximise your intake of life-sustaining micronutrients, not to mention flavour and health!
 DiNicolantonio, J. (2017). The Salt Fix. United States of America: Harmony Books.
 Drake, S., & Drake, M. (2010). Comparison of salty taste and time intensity of sea and land salts from around the world. Journal of Sensory Studies, 26(1), 25-34. doi:10.1111/j.1745-459X.2010.00317.