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The 5 Best Keto Supplements to Keep you Healthy

By Thomas Wrona Updated on

Keto is the most popular diet trend on earth. And growing alongside its popularity is interest in using keto supplements and vitamins to optimize the numerous benefits of the diet. 

These benefits range from weight loss, and reduced inflammation, to increased energy, mental clarity, and freedom from food addiction.  

While at the same time, keto supplements can be used to make the transition into ketosis easier, enhance athletic performance, and make keto more sustainable in the long term. 

In this article, we’ll explore the best keto supplements and vitamins and what they’re good for. 

Table of Contents

Do I Need to Take Supplements on Keto? 

The question of whether you need to take keto supplements in the first place is really the “elephant in the room” that needs to be addressed. 

Some experts and purists say that a well-formulated keto diet doesn’t require supplements or vitamins. 

The true answer is, it depends:  On your individual metabolic makeup, your health goals, athletic activities, and the type of keto diet you’re practicing. 

Different Supplements for Different Keto Diets

For instance, a meat, salt, and water  carnivore elimination diet, will likely require supplementing with vitamin C and potassium after a month or so.

However, a nose-to-tail carnivore diet that includes mineral rich organ meats like spleen and beef liver, can more than cover your micronutrient bases. In fact, they can even offer an abundance of vitamin C, which most people think you need to get from fruit.  

Vegetarian keto or vegan keto plans may call for vitamin B and D supplementation. While more inclusive Mediterranean keto, pescatarian keto plans can provide all your nutrient needs from your daily whole-food based meals. 

The value of keto supplements also depends on factors like your age, your activity level, and the season you find yourself in. 

Get Your Nutrients from Whole Foods First

It’s important to keep in mind that studies show that the nutrients you get from whole foods, and especially meat, are absorbed far better than the nutrients contained in dietary supplements. [1

However, for many people, the quality and availability of nutritious whole foods  is far from ideal. There are many instances where getting keto-specific nutrients can be challenging. And that’s were supplementation comes in.

Use Keto Supplements to Fill in the Gaps

Keto supplements are best used to fill in the gaps and round out the edges of your keto diet.  

Top keto supplements include:

  1. Electrolytes: sodium, potassium, and magnesium
  2. Organ Meat Supplements
  3. Digestive aids and enzymes
  4. MCT oil
  5. Exogenous ketones

Electrolyte Supplements

Electrolytes are minerals that provide your body with the proper amount of conductivity, allowing electric impulses to travel through your nervous system. There are six main electrolytes: [2

  • Sodium
  • Calcium
  • Chloride
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Bicarbonate 

A lack of electrolytes is marked by muscle cramps, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, confusion, and other uncomfortable and downright scary symptoms.3 

These symptoms can be thought of as a type of electrical ‘short-circuiting’ where muscle and brain cells aren’t receiving enough electricity to fire properly. 

What Happens to Electrolytes on Keto? 

The transition into ketosis is often marked by a loss of electrolytes, namely sodium, magnesium, and potassium. This happens for two reasons:

  • Keto diets are naturally low in some electrolytes, especially sodium and magnesium. This is due to reducing extremely salty high-carb processed foods, and cutting out most plant foods. 
  • Lower  insulin levels experienced on keto cause electrolytes to be excreted more quickly [3]

The electrolyte deficiency many people experience when they begin keto is responsible for  keto flu’s nastiest symptoms: muscle cramps, restless legs, fatigue, headaches, and sleeping problems. [4]

Thankfully, countering these symptoms is pretty easy. Just ensure adequate electrolyte intake!

You’ll likely need to make a concerted effort to get enough salt

The best keto-friendly electrolyte sources include: 

How many electrolytes do you need on keto? 

Research shows that the ideal intakes are roughly: [5][6][7

  • 4-5+ grams sodium
  • 4-5 grams potassium
  • 300-600 milligrams magnesium

Sodium

While sodium has already been mentioned in the sense that it’s one of the six major electrolytes, it’s important enough to deserve its own category. 

Your kidneys excrete large amounts of sodium when you begin a keto diet, especially at first. 

Dr. Kiltz and other keto-conscious doctors recommend consuming 12 grams (2 teaspoons) of salt per day in the first few days of keto. Once you’re adapted, 5+ grams (roughly 1 teaspoon) is recommended. This should help you avoid muscle cramps, fatigue, and constipation. [8]

Despite what you may have heard, high sodium intake is not inherently bad for you. The select few studies that fueled mainstream low-sodium recommendations were observational studies which showed that sodium reduction resulted in slightly lower blood pressure for some people. 

There’s a catch, though: there’s no evidence that shows this small drop leads to improved cardiovascular health. [9] That connection was simply assumed. 

Older, more comprehensive research is nearly unanimous that daily sodium intake of 3-6 grams is ideal. Getting less sodium may be detrimental to your health. [10][11]

We recommend starting off keto strong by upping your sodium intake immediately after you’ve cut carbs. (Unless you have high blood pressure and take medication for it, in which case you should talk to your doctor first.) 

High sodium intake should be continued throughout your keto diet journey. An easy — and tasty — way to meet this intake is to drink salted bone broth.  

Magnesium 

Magnesium is another electrolyte that can become depleted on a ketogenic diet. It’s directly responsible for functions as important as muscle contraction (including heart contraction), nerve transmission, and bowel motility. [12

Conversely, magnesium deficiency can lead to: muscle cramps, severe fatigue, constipation, and heart palpitations. 

These symptoms are synonymous with the collection of side effects referred to as keto flu. [13

Studies show that many Americans are already deficient in magnesium, due in large part to the prevalence of nutritionally devoid junk foods and magnesium-depleting pharmaceuticals. Hypothyroidism can also cause your body to waste magnesium. [14

If you’re coming to keto from a Standard American Diet (SAD), you’d be wise to take a proactive approach to magnesium supplementation. 

Taking the whole-foods approach, you can get significant magnesium from these top keto foods: 

TypeAmount per 100 grams% RDA
Salmon roe300 mg75%
Almond Butter279 mg70%
Dark chocolate228mg64%
Chinook salmon122 mg30%
Halibut864 mcg18%
Tuna64mg15%
Oysters60 mg15%

 

Given that other high-magnesium foods — like most fruits and legumes — are off-limits on keto, supplementation may also be warranted. We recommend taking 200-400 milligrams of magnesium a day until your body has fully acclimated to ketosis.

You may want to continue taking magnesium indefinitely in light of its health benefits. [15]

Some of the most absorbable forms of magnesium include magnesium citrate, magnesium glycinate, and magnesium gluconate. Citrate has the added benefit of balancing out your pH levels. [16

Studies show that magnesium can also improve many metrics of sleep, which can be disturbed when becoming keto-adapted. [22]

Supplemental magnesium on the keto diet: summary

Supplementing with magnesium on your keto diet can help you avoid keto flu side effects. Make an effort to eat magnesium rich foods, but don’t be afraid to supplement with a bioavailable form of magnesium. 

Potassium

Potassium is another highly important electrolyte. In addition to facilitating muscle contraction, potassium helps maintain healthy blood pressure and fluid balance. [17

The richest food sources of potassium include many fruits and vegetables. Here’s a more extensive keto-friendly foods list:

TypeAmount per 100 grams%RDA
Beet greens909 mg19%
Clams535 mg13%
Avocado485 mg10%
Zucchini459 mg10%
Pork loin430 mg10%
85% Ground Beef318 mg8%
Lamb chops310 mg8%

Like magnesium, potassium is water-soluble. That means you should save any liquids you generate in the veggie-cooking process. It also means that throwing some leafy greens in your next batch of bone broth can be a good move. 

If you wish to supplement with potassium, potassium citrate is a highly absorbable form that complements magnesium citrate perfectly. 

Organ Meat Keto Supplements

For most people, going keto means dramatically limiting their food choices.

Limiting foods can also mean limiting certain nutrients. That’s were organ meat supplements can make a huge difference!

As the most nutrient-dense foods on earth, organ meats  can provide every essential nutrient in near perfect proportions for our bodies.

This metabolic fit between humans and organ meats isn’t surprising when considering the evolution of our diets.  Recent research reveals that for most of our 2 million years on this planet humans were hyper carnivorous apex predators who ate mostly the meat (organs) of large animals.2

For us modern humans, quality organ meats can be hard to come by, and take some time to get used to. With organ meat supplements you can get the benefits of organ meats in a tasteless capsule. 

Popular organ meat supplements include single organs like liver supplements made from desiccated beef liver. And they also include well as multi-organ supplements that offer a blend of liver, pancreas, heart, kidney, and even brain

One of the most powerful nutritional properties of organ meat supplements is that the organs you eat directly benefits the corresponding organs in your body! 

It’s a property called “like-supports-like.” 

Desiccated Beef Liver Supplements

Desiccated (dried) beef liver, can be a keto diet supplement that assists your transition into ketosis. Nature’s very best source of B vitamins, as you might expect, is desiccated beef liver. 

Liver’s B12 content is most impressive — a single serving of Dr. Kiltz’s Grass Fed Beef Liver Supplement contains roughly 1000%  of your B12 RDV. All these B vitamins mean noticeably more energy. 

B vitamins are extraordinarily safe, too; their water solubility means that any excesses you take can be easily excreted. [21

Desiccated beef liver is also rich in biotin, folate, and coenzyme Q10. These nutrients help your body access stored energy and turn it into fuel while generating a minimal amount of harmful byproducts. [22]

Desiccated beef liver is a great choice for keto athletes, too. Some historians think athletes have used it since Grecian times.[23][24

Liver supplements were also known and loved by golden and silver era bodybuilders. [25][26] For all their quirky beliefs, these bodybuilders were validated by the scientific community when Dr. Benjamin Ershoff showed that mice given liver tablets had much greater endurance, affirming liver’s “anti-fatigue factor”. [27

Digestive Aids and Enzyme Supplements

A keto diet is a high fat diet, and you body can need some help making the digestive transition. 

A gallbladder-produced substance called bile is one of the most important factors in digesting dietary fat. 

Whenever you consume large amounts of fat, your digestive tract sends out a hormone, cholecystokinin (CCK), that triggers bile production. This bile can then emulsify the fat you’ve eaten and make it easier to absorb. [18]

While this process works perfectly well most of the time, some people’s gallbladders have trouble keeping up with all the extra keto fats that need processing. 

If you’re having a hard time digesting meals loaded healthy keto fats like tallow and lard then you may want to try an ox bile supplement. 

Ox bile can step when your body is lacking in bile production, which can be especially helpful when you’re still becoming keto adapted. 

Some people may also struggle with the high protein content of their ketogenic diet. Particularly if they’ve come from a vegan or vegetarian background. 

Protein breakdown can cause digestive issues like nausea, diarrhea, and bloating. Consider supplementing with a digestive enzyme blend that contains:

  • Lipase (breaks down fat)
  • Amylase (breaks down fat)
  • Protease (breaks down protein)

One added benefit of digestive enzymes, for all you keto athletes out there: in addition to breaking down protein, proteolytic enzymes have also been shown to reduce post-workout muscle soreness. [19]

Digestive aids and enzymes on the keto diet: summary

Digestive enzymes and digestive aids like ox bile can help your body process and assimilate all those healthy animal products you’ve started eating. 

MCT Oil Supplements

MCT oil is a special form of saturated fat that’s metabolized almost like a carbohydrate

Rich in medium chain-triglycerides (MCT’s), MCT oil cannot be stored as fat. Instead it travels directly to the liver and becomes processed into ketones. MCT oil essentially provides a keto-friendly metabolic hack. [28]

MCT oil is so effective at boosting ketone levels that it’s been used for decades by epileptic children who need to stay in ketosis for medical reasons — but also want a little more dietary freedom. 

Many people find supplemental MCT oil allows them to eat up to 100 grams of carbohydrates a day while staying in ketosis. [29

Just be warned that MCT oil can have a laxative effect if your body isn’t used to it. Consider starting off slow by taking just a teaspoon a day. With time your body should be able to assimilate several tablespoons as needed. 

Medium-chain triglycerides themselves can also be ingested via many food sources. The richest source of dietary MCT’s is coconut oil: 

  • Coconut oil: 50-70% MCTs 
  • Coconut manna: 30% MCTs 
  • Butter: 8% MCTs 
  • Cream: 3% MCTs

MCT oil on the keto diet: summary

Supplementing with MCT oil can make getting into ketosis faster and easier. It can even provide you with a little more dietary freedom! 

Exogenous Ketone Supplements

Ketosis is marked by the production of endogenous (internal) ketone body production in the liver. 

This process, however, can be accelerated by supplementing with exogenous (external) ketones. Exogenous ketone supplements directly boost blood ketone levels and give your body a quick load of usable energy. 

Interestingly, these ketones have also been shown to decrease appetite, boost athleticism, and improve muscular endurance. They are commonly used by people following a ketogenic diet to increase blood ketone levels. [30]

Some experts, however, argue that exogenous ketones aren’t needed on the keto diet since the body will eventually start producing plenty of its own. More research is needed on this unique class of supplements. 

Exogenous ketones on the keto diet: summary

Supplementing with exogenous ketones on your keto diet can help speed your transition into ketosis. If you feel fine without this supplement, however, then feel free to keep going without — more human research is still needed to understand the pros and cons of exogenous ketones.  

Keto Supplements: The Takeaway

Though supplements are not essential on a keto diet, they can make the transition smoother and help you sustain the diet for longer. 

A good rule of thumb is to “supplement” your nutrient needs by focusing on whole-foods first, and then add specific vitamin, enzyme, and exogenous ketone supplements when needed. 

Above all, it’s important to listen to your body, practice mindful eating, and consult with a keto-conscious medical professional if you have questions about nutrient and vitamin deficiencies. 

And remember to salt your food!