This article is written by Skip Franzsen and Anya Joubert and was first published on 4 Jan 2016.
If you are new to Banting, you may have depleted vitamin and minerals by long-term use of medication and also daily stress. Today’s processed foods are hugely nutrient-deficient compared with foods grown in the past. To give your body the best shot at good health, it is important that you have enough of all the required vitamins and nutrients. But what do you need and where should those vitamins and minerals come from?
When you start eating ‘real’ foods that are nutrient-rich as the main component of your diet, it will become increasingly unnecessary to use vitamins and minerals supplements with the exception of vitamin C supplements and omega 3 fish oil (obtained from fish not flax seeds) as neither of these important nutrients are manufactured by the body and you will need a daily supply of both.
Dr Loren Cordain, founder of the Paleo diet, describes the use of nutritional supplements like this: “When you start eating Paleo, you simply won’t require vitamin or mineral supplements.In fact, except for fish oil and vitamin D, if you choose to take antioxidant and/or B vitamins, you will increase your risk of cancer, heart disease and dying from all causes combined”. It is well worth reading the full article and especially his reference to the “U curve” (see below).
Even if Dr Cordain is only partially correct about the adverse effects of vitamins and minerals and their overuse leading to potential illness, it is a sad reflection on anindustry cashing in on consumers. The global market for vitamin and supplements exceeded $90 billion in 2013, growing at an annual rate of 5% since 2009 (Pearson, no date). In Australia, the industry is considered to be worth between $1 billion and $2 billion, boosted in 2015 by increasing demand by Asian customers (Taylor, 2015) and sales in South Africa continue to grow despite a reduction in disposable income.
At the start of my Banting lifestyle, I (first author) added a host of vitamins and minerals and even did a course on minerals and supplements (which has since been discontinued). The takeaway from this course was that your body needs:
Omega 3 Fatty Acids – obtained from fish and fish oils and also eggs.
Vitamin C – obtained from dried herbs and spices, sweet yellow peppers, red chili and kale
Vitamin D – obtained from sunlight
Magnesium – essential for over 300 metabolic processes and obtainable from Pink Himalayan salt.
Zinc – essential for blood sugar control and obtained from meat, spinach, pumpkin and nuts
L-Carnitine – improves oxygen use by heart muscles and improves exercise tolerance; obtained from beef, pork and chicken.
Chromium Picolinate – works to improve insulin resistance and curb sugar cravings. Sources are broccoli, beans, cheese, mushrooms, asparagus and organ meats.
Armed with this list, I spent time at the local Dischem [a large chain of pharmacies in South Africa] and purchased a host of vitamins, including Vitamin K2 and co-enzyme Q10. I remember opening many bottles and taking a handful of supplements each evening. I later discovered that Nativa sells a Diabetic Vitamin complex which contains all of the above including Iron and Selenium for 20% of the cost of individual ingredients, and all in one single tablet. I simply got mine at Checkers (a supermarket chain in South Africa).
After more than a year on LCHF, I no longer take or need any vitamin or mineral supplements. If you are going to use vitamins, it may be necessary at the start of the Banting journey to ensure you have all the requirements for optimum health. However, after a few months it may not be needed because all the required minerals and vitamins should be included in a real food Banting Diet. Looking at the U curve below (Cordain, no date), once you have vitamin and mineral balance it is important to stop taking unnecessary and excessive minerals and vitamins. That is also good news for your pocket.
This leads to the question of how to obtain the highest quality ‘real’ foods that are nutrient-dense. Clearly the quest for high quality food would drive you in the direction of unprocessed, organic, free-range or home grown. ‘When we eat real, living foods there is little or no need to supplement our diet with any vitamin, mineral or single nutrient thought to be protective against disease’ (Cordain, no date).
Anya Joubert (second author) posted this gem on the Real Meal Revolution Beginer Banting course earlier this year, apparently from Dr Thomas Heath, a chiropractor from Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. It influenced me then and I hope it influences you as well; it was the central reason for posting this article.
“It is possible to get your full need of Vitamins from these different low carb food sources:
- Vitamin A (Retinol): Liver, eggs, butter, milk, yogurt
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): meat (pork and beef), Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Meat, liver, kidney, almonds
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin): meat, liver, fish, milk
- Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid): Avocado, nuts
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): Liver, Meat, Fish, Nuts
- Vitamin B8 (Biotin): Eggs, liver
- Vitamin B12 (cobalamin): meat, liver, herring
- Folate / Folic Acid: Liver, Asparagus, Eggs, Broccoli, Cauliflower
- Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid): Peppers, Broccoli, Cauliflower
- Vitamin D (Kaciferol): Oily fish, eggs, liver, butter (I add produced by the body in sunlight)
- Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol): Almond, Spinach, Egg
- Vitamin K (phylloquinone): Lettuce, Spinach, Broccoli, liver”
I will add that fish and eggs are also a rich source of Omega 3 and Pink Himalayan crystal salt is a rich source of most minerals.
If you take any vitamins at all, it may be necessary only in the first few weeks or months of a balanced Banting diet. Make sure you eat from a wide selection of ‘real’ foods and use Pink Himalayan salt (a cure for most things Banting). The aim over the long-term is to develop an optimum balance of natural nutrients in your body by eating real foods.
Cordain, Loren (no date). ‘Vitamin and nutritional supplements increase chronic disease morbidity (incidence) and mortality (death)’, article on The Paleo Diet website, http://thepaleodiet.com/vitamin-nutritional-supplements-increase-chronic-disease-morbidity-incidence-mortality-death/#.VnlAPVIeHIVlast accessed 26 Dec 2015.
Taylor, David (29 Oct 2015). ‘Chinese demand boosts vitamin and supplement industry’, article on ABC News website, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-10-29/chinese-demand-helps-see-vitamin-makers’-shares-soar/6896444, last accessed 26 Dec 2015.
Pearson, Lewis (no date). ‘Get to know everything about the food supplement industry: key trends and strategies explained’ article on ReportLinker website, http://www.reportlinker.com/ci02037/Vitamin-and-Supplement.html, last accessed 26 Dec 2015.