Why You Need a Vitamin C Supplement If You're Following a Keto or Carnivore Diet

May 12, 2020

Why You Need a Vitamin C Supplement If You're Following a Keto or Carnivore Diet

Long gone are the days of “dieting” that simply meant cutting portions in half. Nope, today we all live in the age of nutrition revelations, biohacking, & lifestyle optimization. From Noom’s psychology-based nutrition plans to the re-branding of Weight Watchers to avoid the word “weight” at all, going on a diet has become...complex. Although many can benefit long-term from adopting a diet that really works for them, there are always certain limitations we should be aware of, especially when food variety is restricted. Nutrient deficiencies aren’t uncommon and beyond this, some diets aren’t meant to be followed forever. They are merely short-term measures to achieve a specific number on a scale. Talking to a health care professional before you dive into any diet is always advised. It’s not a one-size fits all phenomenon.

In recent years, the popularity of high fat & protein-based diets such as the Keto diet and the Carnivore diet are based on people finding positive results, many of them celebrities or public figures. However, when talking about any restrictive diet limiting and/or excluding a certain category of nutrients, a possibility of deficiency is a matter that must be addressed. Luckily, with proper supplementation, nutritional balance can be reestablished and maintained. If you’re following a keto or carnivore diet, here’s why you should consider an all-natural Liposomal Vitamin C supplement to ensure you maintain your health.

The Mighty Vitamin C & Its Benefits

Vitamin C is a widely recognized, powerful antioxidant, and as such, it doesn’t require much introduction. However, there are certain aspects of this water-soluble vitamin, also known as ascorbic acid, that aren’t necessarily considered common knowledge. One of them is the fact that vitamin C does not belong to the category of nutrients we’re able to produce in our own bodies. In fact, we’re one of the only mammals that can’t. This means that we need to get 100% of the Vitamin C our bodies need from our diets. According to a study conducted by Y. Li and colleagues, most animals are able to synthesize a significant amount of the vitamin on their own, while humans are deprived of this capability due to a series of mutations of the key gene in the vitamin C biosynthesis.

What’s also important to note is that vitamin C is a crucial element of numerous important functions of the body, which means that its absence cannot be overlooked. How do we go about resolving this issue? Given that the amount obtained from common dietary sources doesn’t suffice, that’s where highly bioavailable Vitamin C supplementation comes into play. According to an overview of vitamin C, the stability of the vitamin in vegetables and fruits is compromised by numerous factors - including metallic ions, heat, pH, and oxygen - which may lead to oxidation of vitamin C.

One of the primary roles of vitamin C concerns collagen synthesis, as without it the natural production of collagen in the body would not be possible, and we would be lacking this main structural protein. Besides being the essential fuel in collagen biosynthesis, vitamin C is also required for the production of L-carnitine and certain neurotransmitters, and it is also an important factor in protein metabolism.

Furthermore, vitamin C is known for its protective role in the body as a physiological antioxidant which has been found to aid in the regeneration of other antioxidants, including vitamin E. It has also been shown to aid in the protection of indispensable molecules in the body, including carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and nucleic acids. What’s more, given its role as a potent antioxidant, vitamin C also appears to combat the free radicals produced by normal metabolic respiration. Vitamin C also seems to reduce potentially harmful free radicals by producing relatively stable ascorbate free radicals.

According to a study on the effects of vitamin C supplementation on blood pressure, supplementing with all-natural Vitamin C has been associated with a reduction in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. While on the topic of cardiovascular health, it is important to mention that there are indications connecting vitamin C supplementation with lowered levels of blood cholesterol and triglycerides.

Vitamin C for Blood Pressure

Moreover, vitamin C has been associated with the proliferation of white blood cells, crucial in the body’s defense against infections, therefore greatly benefiting the immune system. In combination with zinc and arginine, vitamin C supplementation also appears to promote wound healing and shorten healing time. In addition, low levels of vitamin C have been linked to signs of cognitive impairment affecting memory and thinking.

Finally, vitamin C has been recognized as a valuable factor in skin health, especially given its role in collagen synthesis. According to an overview of vitamin C in skin health by the Linus Pauling Institute, ascorbic acid is an important component of skin structure, present in both the dermis and the epidermis. Therefore, this vitamin demonstrates great potential when it comes to photoprotection, skin dryness, protection against environmental pollutants, as well as wrinkling and other signs of aging.

Diets & Mindset

As anyone who’s been on a diet can attest to, it can be easy to get all caught up in numbers on the scale or the “end-goal,” partially or completely disregarding the possible consequences of a certain regimen. The truth is that every single diet, no matter how efficient, may lead to a deficiency, given that it limits or excludes a certain group of nutrients. Therefore, we’ll review some of the popular diets, mainly focusing on keto and carnivore, and we’ll discuss how we can avoid depriving our body of vital nutrients.

Ketogenic Diet & Potential Nutritional Gaps

Keto Diet

The massively popular Ketogenic diet, simply referred to as Keto, is a low-carb regimen that limits carbohydrate intake to 25-50 grams a day. As far as other macronutrients are concerned, the recommended scheme goes as follows: 55-60% fat, 35% protein, which leaves only 5-10% for the intake of carbs throughout the day. The main objective of this regimen is reaching nutritional ketosis, which is a state a deprivation of carbohydrates results in. A study on the ketogenic diet conducted by W. Masood and colleagues finds that during ketosis, ketone bodies replace glucose as a predominant energy source, limiting the insulin secretion and the stimulus for fat and glucose storage.

When it comes to efficiency, the statistics speak for themselves. According to an overview conducted by the Colorado State University, the keto diet has been proven to yield impressive weight-loss results, especially in type 2 diabetes patients and those diagnosed with the metabolic syndrome. Beyond weight-loss, the review suggests that these patients have experienced reduced cardiovascular disease symptoms, as well as improved insulin and glucose metabolisms.

Given the carbohydrate content of fresh fruits and vegetables, it is understood that keto dieters often choose to limit their intake of these foods. For instance, a single banana contains 27g CHO, and a single baked sweet potato 37g CHO - either of which surpasses the accepted keto limit of 25g CHO/day. Typically, keto followers get 65-75% energy from fats alone, 15-25% energy from protein, and only 5-10% energy from carbs. Research conducted by M. K. Taylor et al. suggests that this kind of macronutrient profile promotes the conversion of fatty acids to ketone bodies serving as energy substrates.

However, a study conducted by F. T. McSwiney and colleagues suggests that endurance athletes following a low carbohydrate ketogenic diet during a 12-week period experienced a significant drop in vitamin C levels. Furthermore, a study reviewing low-carb diets states that even though larger weight loss has been noted in low-carb diets as compared to low-fat diets, there is a risk of low intake of fiber, water-soluble antioxidants, and vitamins.

Limited Fruit and Vegetable Intake on Keto

What’s more, a systematic review by C. Churuangsuk and colleagues states that restricting CHO-rich foods may seriously compromise the levels of minerals, B-vitamins, as well as antioxidants such as vitamin C. Furthermore, limiting them for a longer period of time could result in decreased content of iron, magnesium, thiamine, and folic acid. In addition, an evaluation of the Atkins diet (a similarly carb-restricted diet) emphasizes a serious risk of inadequacy for nutrients, including vitamin C.

Apart from the scientific evidence to support the Keto diet, you’ll also hear a lot of hype from successful entrepreneurs, celebrities, and even athletes about their Keto lifestyles. From Lebron James to the Kardashians, and business leaders claiming their focus & productivity is improved because of it, Keto looks like it’s here to stay for a while. The trouble is simply, can you stay on it for an extended period of time and stay healthy.

Carnivore Diet & Deficiencies

When it comes to a carnivore diet, there couldn’t be a more suitable name as this regimen is based solely on meat and products derived from animals, disregarding other food groups altogether. More specifically, the carnivore diet menu includes meat, fish, eggs, and select dairy products, while excluding vegetables, fruits, legumes, seeds, grains, and nuts. To put it simply, you eat a lot of meat!

Carnivore Diet

Supporters of this diet include controversial professor Jordan Peterson, and comedian & podcaster Joe Rogan, who followed the carnivore diet for 30-days during World Carnivore Month in January. It’s important to note that many people who try this diet find it very difficult to sustain long-term and if you’re looking to have a lesser impact on the planet, this is about as far away from plant-based eating as you can get.

As far as dairy products are concerned, the diet proposes a limited intake of foods low in lactose. Unlike keto, this diet allows no consumption of carbs of any kind, which makes it heavily restrictive and very difficult to maintain long-term. Needless to say, due to the lack of numerous nutritious foods on the table of a carnivore, this kind of nutritional plan could easily lead to numerous deficiencies.

According to P. Dockrill at ScienceAlert.com, what some may consider a long-forgotten deficiency condition is a reality of many people - and the excessively restrictive diets aren’t helping. Scurvy, often developed as a direct consequence of low levels of essential vitamin C, is just one of the health complications associated with strict regimes such as a carnivore diet. Think twice before adopting the pirate lifestyle.

Vitamin C Deficiency: Development & Manifestation

Okay, now that we can conclude that restrictive diets such as keto and carnivore put you at serious risk of developing vitamin C deficiency, it is clear that obtaining this vitamin from non-GMO Vitamin C supplementation should be a priority. But, what exactly do we mean by vitamin C deficiency, and why is it important - aside from obtaining all the discussed benefits - to avoid lacking it?

While the recommended daily dose of vitamin C for adults stands at 90 mg, the statistics show that intake hardly surpasses 48.8 mg. The consequences of failing to meet the daily requirement over a certain period of time appear to be both short-term and long-term - almost chronic. Namely, the health conditions associated with the suboptimal concentrations of vitamin C include scurvy, coronary heart disease, as well as stroke, a study on the nutritional deficiencies of ketogenic diet states.

Furthermore, the aforementioned study links vitamin C deficiency to numerous bone health-compromising conditions, including osteoporosis and hip issues due to lower bone mineral density. Also, neglecting vitamin C intake has been shown to increase the risk of hip fracture over the course of a lifetime.

Vitamin C in Bone Health

According to a study conducted by Y. Li and colleagues, in order to preserve the stability of vitamin C, and its role as an antioxidant, high levels of the vitamin must be obtained from highly bioavailable sources. If not, the instability of vitamin C promoted by its poor intestinal absorption and consistent excretion from the body could jeopardize the physiological availability of the vitamin.

The Aftermath of Vitamin C Deficiency: Scurvy

Scurvy is, without a doubt, a condition caused by vitamin C deficiency, a study conducted by S. A. Ahmad et al. states. According to this study, vitamin C acts as a reducing agent, lowering the levels of metal ions in enzymes and combatting free radicals. What’s more, vitamin C is necessary for the conversion of the dietary form of iron into an easily absorbable ferrous form, which is the main reason behind anemia in scurvy. A vitamin C overview describes scurvy as a condition characterized by fragile capillaries and weakness of connective tissues, accompanied by fatigue or lassitude.

Furthermore, the study on florid scurvy goes on to explain how a lack of vitamin C compromises the vital process of collagen synthesis, thus potentially leading to loss of teeth, anomalies in the dentin, as well as hemorrhaging gums. In addition, insufficient levels of vitamin C have been associated with the development of osteoporosis manifested through radiological changes such as brittle bones and loosened periosteum, commonly detected in scurvy patients.

In addition to the mentioned symptoms, other manifestations of scurvy-related vitamin C deficiency include poor wound healing, easy bruising, hair loss, joint ache and swelling, and subcutaneous bleeding. All of the mentioned symptoms have been related to collagen impairment in connective tissue, blood vessels, and bones. Even though scurvy is rarely diagnosed in children, there have been instances of this condition among both children and the elderly following a strict diet regimen.

Learning as much as possible about the nutrition your body needs is one of the best approaches you can take for long-term health when it comes to any diet. However, in the process of implementing a certain diet into your lifestyle, remember to take a hard look at the pros and cons - and supplement accordingly. When considering more restrictive diets like Keto or Carnivore, supplementing with vitamin C is essential. The power of this essential nutrient can’t be emphasized enough. Looking for more all-natural quality supplements? See our full selection.


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Article References:

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  7. Huijskens, M., Walczak, M., Koller, N., Briedé, J., Senden-Gijsbers, B., & Schnijderberg, M. et al. (2014). Technical Advance: Ascorbic acid induces development of double-positive T cells from human hematopoietic stem cells in the absence of stromal cells. Journal Of Leukocyte Biology, 96(6), 1165-1175. doi: 10.1189/jlb.1ta0214-121rr
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