No matter what your dieting needs and preferences, micronutrients are an essential part of maintaining the body’s systems, improving health while enabling proper growth and development. When you go keto, maintaining micronutrient levels is even more important, as you might eliminate foods that contain these vital essentials. What are micronutrients, what are their functions, and how can you get a healthy helping on a ketogenic diet? Here’s your go-to guide:
What are Micronutrients, and What Do They Do for the Body?
Micronutrients are composed of vitamins and minerals, substances that every body requires in small amounts. While fats and proteins are macronutrients consumed in large quantities, a well-balanced diet also includes ample amounts of vitamins and minerals, which are measured in milligrams or micrograms.
The most important micronutrients are Vitamin A, Iodine, and Iron, but the list is long, and a proper mixture is required to help every body function, from aiding cells to improving digestive function (1). Many micronutrients are contained in protein-heavy meats and vegetables, which can actually make them easier to acquire on a ketogenic diet.
How Can I Get My Daily Helping of Micronutrients?
Getting a healthy helping of micronutrients is easier than you might assume. Vitamins and minerals occur naturally in foods, and depend on growing conditions, storage, and cooking methods. With a multitude of foods supplying a hearty intake of vitamins and minerals, as long as you know what to look for, you can attain an array of keto-friendly sources. Supplements are another method of achieving the necessary micronutrient levels, but they’re no substitute for food. This guide focuses on how to obtain those levels through diet alone.
The Top 3 Micronutrients: Vitamin A, Iodine, and Iron
What Does Vitamin A Do?
Vitamin A does a world of wonder for our bodies. It’s recognized as a key component of vision, especially color and night vision. In addition, it helps our cells function properly and our bones grow strong. Vitamin A even aids the reproductive process, making it a vital micronutrient to centralize in our daily diets (2).
What are Keto-Friendly Sources of Vitamin A?
Keto dieters rejoice! Many mouthwatering forms of vitamin A are keto-friendly, including dairy sources such as eggs and milk, and hearty vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, sweet potatoes, and carrots. With these delicious sources, it’s easy to achieve your daily intake.
What Does Iodine Do?
Iodine regulates your body’s metabolism, helping you to burn calories more efficiently (3). It also regulates the body’s temperature, helping you keep comfortable no matter what the weather.
What are Keto-Friendly Sources of Iodine?
You can find iodine in a variety of food sources, including fresh fish, liver, and dairy products. These fat-heavy foods make iodine an easy-to-achieve nutrient for any keto dieter.
What Does Iron Do?
Iron is the body’s oxygen transporter, as well as assisting in the metabolism that keeps you going strong all day. It helps develop not just the brain itself, but also the entire nervous system, helping control the neurotransmitters that monitor everyday thoughts (4).
What are Keto-Friendly Sources of Iron?
When attempting to get your daily supply of iron, keep in mind that it has two types: heme and non-heme. Both are from different sources, with heme coming from animals. These are all keto-friendly, fat-filled meat sources, such as beef, pork, and fish. Poultry and seafood are also great sources.
On the other hand, non-heme iron is also present in keto-friendly spinach and other leafy vegetables. Its main source is plant foods, but some are too low fat or not diet-friendly for those eating keto—such as breakfast cereals and tofu. To get the most iron on the keto diet, aim for the heme variety.
Other Vital Micronutrients: The B Vitamins
In addition to the primary micronutrients, every body needs a healthy helping of B vitamins. Here are the main four, what they do, and how to get your daily serving.
Vitamin B1 – Thiamin
What Does Thiamin Do?
Vitamin B1, also known as Thiamin, aids in the metabolism of amino acids (5).
What are Keto-Friendly Sources of Thiamin?
Since keto dieters don’t consume carbohydrates, you can get your thiamin from meat sources, such as pork. Peas are another way to get your helping, along with beans on the side. Together, this creates an entire thiamin-rich meal, keeping your amino acid levels solid day after day.
Vitamin B2 – Riboflavin
What Does Riboflavin Do?
Riboflavin aids in the metabolism of fats, making it highly important for keto dieters. When you consume a high amount of fats, your body needs to get them into your system properly--Vitamin B2 does exactly that (6).
What are Keto-Friendly Sources of Riboflavin?
You can get your daily source of riboflavin through high-fat dairy products such as milk and cheeses. Liver is also a great way of getting your fill, offering fat, protein, and riboflavin in every serving.
What Does Vitamin B6 Do?
Vitamin B6 helps your body metabolize proteins, but it also supports healthy blood cells, assisting in the synthesis process (7).
What are Keto-Friendly Sources of Vitamin B6?
Look for Vitamin B6 in fatty meats such as beef and poultry. Other sources are high in carbs, so stick to protein and fat-heavy sources.
What Does Vitamin B12 Do?
Vitamin B12 aids cell function by protecting the myelin sheath. This is the coating that surrounds your nerve fibers, so it also makes everyday movement easier, helping prevent nerve-associated diseases (8).
What are Keto-Friendly Sources of Vitamin B12?
You can discover vitamin B12 in a wide variety of keto-friendly foods, including many different types of meat. From beef to poultry and seafood, it’s not difficult to get a solid supply.
No matter what your dietary needs, keeping healthy is key, and micronutrients are an important part of that process. They help every body function its best, and, thankfully for ketogenic dieters, there are plenty of high-fat, keto-friendly sources to get your daily supply. With the proper amount of micronutrients in your system, your body will go long and strong day after day.
(1) Fragkos, K., & Forbes, A. (2011). Digestion and absorption of nutrients. In L. Sobotka, S. Allison, A. Forbes, O. Ljungqvist, M. Pertkiewicz, R. Meier, & P. B. Soeters (Eds.), Basics in Clinical Nutrition (pp. 83–96). Prague: Galen.
(2) 6 health benefits of vitamin a, backed by science. (2018, August 23). Retrieved October 5, 2018, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-a-benefits.
(3) Zbigniew, S. (2017). Role of iodine in metabolism. Recent Patents on Endocrine, Metabolic & Immune Drug Discovery, 10(2), 123–126. https://doi.org/10.2174/1872214811666170119110618
(4) Harvard Health. (n.d.). Iron and your health. Retrieved October 5, 2018, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/iron-and-your-health.
(5) Martel, J. L., & Franklin, D. S. (2018). Vitamin b1(Thiamine). In StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482360/
(6) Vitamin B-12. (n.d.). Retrieved October 5, 2018, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-vitamin-b12/art-20363663.
(7) Pubchem. (n.d.). Pyridoxine. Retrieved October 5, 2018, from https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/1054.
(8) O’Leary, F., & Samman, S. (2010). Vitamin b12 in health and disease. Nutrients, 2(3), 299–316. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu2030299