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Nutrient Management


It's the nutrients that count!

From the perspective of nutrition physiology, eating food serves the purpose of supplying the body with nutrients and water. During a ketogenic diet, it is necessary to ensure a certain macro-nutrient composition (see chapter Basics Ketogenic Diet) to archieve and maintain the metabolic state of ketosis. The so-called "macros" can be checked with the help of nutritional labelling on food packaging and nutrition tables.
More or less independent of the kind of diet, additional nutrient requirements must be met. To maintain all its functions, it is important to get all micronutrients the human body needs. The body also synthesizes many substances it needs by itself. However, there are some cases when this doesn't work and sufficient amounts have to be supplemented from external sources. These substances are called essential nutrients. In adult human beings, these essential nutrients consist of eight amino acids, two fatty acids, some minerals and trace elements, and all the vitamins, whereby vitamin D is the exception because, apart from its dietary uptake, it can be produced in the skin if exposure to solar radiation is sufficiently provided. There are recommendations for the quantitative supply of most essential nutrients, for example, those published by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine which apply for the USA and Canada. The table below shows a list of essential nutrients and indicates exemplary foodstuffs which might serve as adequate sources for a ketogenic diet.

Essential Nutrients and their Sources

Name Important Sources
Vitamin A Carrots (contain the plant-based provitamin form), egg yolk, liver, cod liver oil, butter
Vitamin D Egg yolk, certain types of fish, cod liver oil
Vitamin E Sunflower oil, canola oil, olive oil, linseed oil, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, walnuts
Vitamin K Most vegetables, although in varying quantities, canola oil, egg yolk
Vitamin B1 Pork
Vitamin B2 Chicken eggs
Vitamin B6 Different types off fish, certain types of meat, walnuts, hazelnuts
Vitamin B12 Most types of fish, egg yolk, beef, pork
Biotin Egg yolk, walnuts, hazelnuts
Vitamin C Most vegetables
Folic acids Vegetables, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, walnuts, egg yolk
Niacin (or vitamin B3) Fish, meat, peanuts
Pantothenic acid (or vitamin B5) Vegetables, fish, meat, egg yolk
Calcium Calcium-rich mineral water, certain vegetables, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts
Chlorine Table salt
Potassium Nuts, peanuts, vegetables, fish and meat, hen's egg yolk and egg white, hen's egg white protein powder
Magnesium Hazelnuts, walnuts, Brazil nuts, peanuts, magnesium-rich mineral water
Sodium Table salt
Phosphor Nuts, meat, fish, egg yolk
Sulfur protein-containing foods
Cobalt Found in Vitamin B12
Iron Red meat, poultry, certain types of fish
Iodine Iodized table salt, most sea fish
Copper Nuts, certain meats, fish and vegetables
Manganese Nuts, certain vegetables
Selenium Fish, egg yolk and egg white, certain fish, nuts
Zinc Meat, fish, egg yolk, nuts
Isoleucine Meat, fish, eggs, protein powder
Linoleic acid Sunflower oil, canola oil, linseed oil, olive oil, Brazil nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts
alpha-linolenic acid Linseed oil, canola oil, walnuts

The right composition of fatty acids

Fatty acids are coarsely distinguished in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), and saturated fatty acids (SFAs). The former should make up the main proportion in this form of diet, they primarily originate from animal food products or from canola and olive oil. You take up most of the SFAs by eating animal food products. The percentage of these substances should not be too high. To the group of the PUFAs belong the two essential fatty acids alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3-fatty acid) and linoleic acid (omega-6-fatty acid). While the fulfillment of the demand for these acids must be secured, the quantitative ratio of the two fatty acids is also important (omega-6-fatty acids / omega-3-fatty acids = at maximum 5 /1). Both requirements will be easy to meet due to the high fat content of this diet form, and if the foods are well chosen. Apart from fulfilling the body's dietary demands, the supplied quantity of PUFAs should not be too high because they are much more prone to undergo oxidation.

Note: The vitamin E demand increases the more PUFAs you consume. As PUFAs in this type of diet are taken up predominately in the form of unprocessed vegetable oils and nuts, the somewhat increased demand for this vitamin (compared to most other diets) will be automatically met.

Comparison with reference values of nutrient supply

After several weeks and some routine with this diet you will be able to estimate quite well how often you eat the respective foods. Then you should compare the essential nutrients of your personal diet with the nutrient supply reference values reported in nutritional value tables. You will find the age and sex-dependent supply recommendations for the respective nutrients, for example, on the DRV Finder on the EFSA website. First open the DRV Finder:

You can also look up the nutrient contents of most foods online.

In case of a (distinctly) too low supply of single nutrients, you will have to adjust your personal food selection. For an initial orientation, you can use the data shown in the table above. If necessary, you might have to supplement one nutrient or another. You will be able to purchase suitable products at a low price in pharmacies and drug stores. Always make sure that the dose of single vitamins, minerals or trace elements never (markedly) exceeds your requirement. Always mind the nutrition facts and the dose information printed on the package and seek advice from your pharmacist or doctor whenever you are not sure.

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