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Do These Popular Diets Make You Nutrient Deficient?

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Do These Popular Diets Make You Nutrient Deficient?

by Carin Gorrell | Posted February 2nd, 2018

Eating well and meeting all of the daily nutritional recommendations is hard enough when you have no dietary restrictions. But if you’re on any kind of diet that eliminates specific ingredients or entire categories of foods—whether it’s for health purposes, to lose weight, to align with your ethical beliefs, or any other reason—there’s a good chance you’re falling short on certain key nutrients, says nutrition counselor Stephanie Clarke, M.S., R.D., cofounder of C&J Nutrition.

That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to break your diet rules in order to meet your nutritional needs. Which is especially reassuring news if you’re someone with a serious condition like Celiac disease who simply can’t start eating whole grains without some very real health consequences.

We asked Clarke to help identify possible deficiencies you should be thinking about if you’re following a Paleo, Keto, gluten-free, strict elimination, or vegan diet. Keep reading to discover the most common deficiencies, plus what you can add to your plate that’s within your dietary restrictions to help replace those missing nutrients.

The Paleo Diet

The basic premise of the Paleo Diet is that you can eat anything a caveman (or cavewoman) could hunt or gather back in the Paleolithic era, more than 2 million years ago. That means yes to meat, fish, nuts, leafy greens, regional produce, and seeds, and no to modern foods—namely grains, dairy, and legumes.

You might be missing: Calcium, folate, and fiber

Smart fixes: It’s hard to get enough calcium from natural sources other than dairy, so Clarke suggests looking for a Paleo-friendly non-dairy milk like coconut or almond milk that’s fortified with calcium. If you’re eating plenty of vegetables, you’re likely getting enough fiber and folate, a B vitamin that’s essential for heart health, preventing birth defects, and more. But if your diet is pretty meat heavy, start piling more vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, and dark leafy greens on your plate.

The Keto Diet

This diet was originally developed for use in hospitals to help control seizures in children with epilepsy, says Clarke, but has recently become popular for weight loss. The very low-carb, high-fat plan requires you get only 10% of your calories from carbohydrates and 20% from protein; the remaining 70% should come from fat—think tons of meat, fish, nuts, and oils. Even fruits and vegetables are limited because of their carbohydrates, and so is dairy thanks to its lactose (a natural sugar).

You might be missing: Fiber, B vitamins, vitamins A and C, and calcium

Smart fixes: Eat more green leafy vegetables like spinach, chard, and kale, which are low in carbs but high in B vitamins, A, C, and fiber. These greens also contain some calcium, but not enough, so Clarke recommends taking a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement that includes 100% of your daily value of key vitamins and minerals.

Gluten-Free Diet

Only a small percentage of people have Celiac or a true intolerance to gluten, a protein in wheat (and wheat varieties and derivatives like farro and spelt), rye, barley, triticale, malt, brewer’s yeast, and wheat starch. But many more people have a sensitivity to gluten, and nixing it from their diet can relieve symptoms such as GI distress, brain fog, and joint pain.

You might be missing: Folate and fiber

Smart fixes: Falling short on B vitamins and fiber is really only a concern if you don’t eat a lot of vegetables and you’re entirely grain-free (meaning you don’t eat gluten-free grains like brown rice, quinoa, and amaranth), explains Clarke. If that’s you, time to load up on leafy greens for folate, and beans and produce like raspberries, apples, and pears for fiber. Note that many gluten-free packaged products such as breads and cereals are not fortified with folic acid (the synthetic version of folate), so don’t count on those to meet your folate needs unless the label says otherwise.

Elimination Diet

These diets can vary depending on your individual needs, but it involves eliminating all foods that are suspected of disrupting digestive function and health due to allergies, sensitivities, chronic illness, or an otherwise impaired immune system. That can entail nixing all grains (there may be some exceptions, such as white rice), seeds, dairy, eggs, legumes, tree nuts, nightshade and cruciferous vegetables, and most meat (aside from chicken and fish).

You might be missing: Calcium, folate, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and enough calories in general

Smart fixes: Remember that most non-dairy milks are fortified with calcium, so choose one that is (check the label) and that works with your plan, such as oat or rice milk. Your folate is likely low because you’re not eating fortified foods or some of the top vegetable sources such as black-eyed peas (legumes) and broccoli (cruciferous), so focus on the high-folate produce you can have such as asparagus, white rice, and avocado. Look to vegetables and fruits on your “yes” list to help pump up your fiber intake as well.

Vegan Diet

Veganism is characterized by no animal products, including all meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. It’s a rapidly growing trend: While only about 6% of Americans are vegan according to one 2017 survey, that’s exponentially higher than the estimated 1% of vegans in 2014.

You might be missing: B12, iron, and protein

Smart fixes: The only reliable vegan source of B12 is fortified foods (non-dairy milks and some tofu, soy, and cereal products), so if you’re not eating fortified foods a few times a day, you should take a B12 supplement, says Clarke.

Iron from non-heme (non-animal) sources is not as easily absorbed by the body. It’s easy to get enough from sources like legumes, blackstrap molasses, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, whole grains, and even dark chocolate, just be sure to pair it with a little vitamin C (strawberries, kiwi, oranges), which aids in iron absorption, says Clarke.

When it comes to protein, most Americans (including vegans) get more than they need, which is 10-20% of their daily calories, says Clarke. But if you suspect you’re falling short, aim to have two or more complementary proteins at every meal—pairing incomplete proteins such as whole wheat, rice, beans, lentils, and peanuts will provide all the essential amino acids you need.

As for vitamin D and omega-3s, two 3-4 ounce servings of salmon a week should be enough to hit your levels, but you might still consider taking a vitamin D supplement—even the healthiest people have trouble getting enough D, says Clarke. And if you’re struggling to meet your caloric needs, lean on high-fat avocado and oils on your approved list (avocado, canola, grapeseed, and olive oils are usually allowed): One gram of fat delivers 9 calories, compared to only 4 calories in a gram of carbohydrate or protein.

As always, talk with your healthcare practitioner if you have any concerns about nutritional deficiencies or starting a new diet or supplement. Have other questions or suggestions about filling in nutritional gaps? Share them with us on Facebook.



Food is important for everyone, but the Lyme/MSIDS patient needs to take it extremely seriously.  This article points out some possible holes in various diets.  Please work with a good nutritionist and figure out your personal imbalances.  It will help you greatly in your journey.

For more:  Cyndi O’Meara is a nutritionist, film maker – ‘What’s With Wheat?’, best-selling author, international speaker and founder of Changing Habits.  She gives simple and practical steps to change your health.  Diagnosed with MS, Dr. Terry Wahls received the best standard medicine had to offer. After declining to the point of being in a wheel chair, she took matters into her own hands and learned how to properly fuel her body. Using the lessons she learned at the subcellular level, she used diet to cure her MS and get out of her wheelchair.  Great video explaining how 70-80% of our immune system is in our gut and the importance of eliminating sugar.  I add info about how MSM, a safe, inexpensive supplement can help heal leaky gut.  Excellent video that explains many nutritional myths we’ve grown up with including – fat is bad. It also points out a few things that are helpful for weight loss, since many MSIDS patients gain weight while in treatment. It also discusses digestive enzymes with ingredients I cover in the article about systemic enzymes:


Magnesium: An Invisible Deficiency

Magnesium: An Invisible Deficiency That Could Be Harming Your Health

By Dr. Mercola January 19, 2015 

Magnesium Deficiency

Story at-a-glance

  • Only about 25 percent of US adults are getting the recommended daily amount of magnesium (and even that may not be enough)
  • Magnesium deficiency may trigger 22 medical conditions, from anxiety to diabetes
  • Early signs of magnesium deficiency include loss of appetite, headache, nausea, fatigue, and weakness

Magnesium is a mineral used by every organ in your body, especially your heart, muscles, and kidneys.1 If you suffer from unexplained fatigue or weakness, abnormal heart rhythms or even muscle spasms and eye twitches, low levels of magnesium could be to blame.

If you’ve recently had a blood test, you might assume it would show a magnesium deficiency. But only 1 percent of magnesium in your body is distributed in your blood, making a simple sample of magnesium from a serum magnesium blood test not very useful.

Most magnesium is stored in your bones and organs, where it is used for many biological functions. Yet, it’s quite possible to be deficient and not know it, which is why magnesium deficiency has been dubbed the “invisible deficiency.”

By some estimates, up to 80 percent of Americans are not getting enough magnesium and may be deficient. Other research shows only about 25 percent of US adults are getting the recommended daily amount of 310 to 320 milligrams (mg) for women and 400 to 420 for men.2

Even more concerning, consuming even this amount is “just enough to ward off outright deficiency,” according to Dr. Carolyn Dean, a medical and naturopathic doctor.

Magnesium Deficiency May Trigger 22 Medical Conditions

Magnesium is often thought of primarily as a mineral for your heart and bones, but this is misleading. Researchers have now detected 3,751 magnesium-binding sites on human proteins, indicating that its role in human health and disease may have been vastly underestimated.3

Magnesium is also found in more than 300 different enzymes in your body and plays a role in your body’s detoxification processes, making it important for helping to prevent damage from environmental chemicals, heavy metals, and other toxins. In addition, magnesium is necessary for:

  • Activating muscles and nerves
  • Creating energy in your body by activating adenosine triphosphate (ATP)
  • Helping digest proteins, carbohydrates, and fats
  • Serving as a building block for RNA and DNA synthesis
  • Acting as a precursor for neurotransmitters like serotonin

Dr. Dean has studied and written about magnesium for more than 15 years. The latest addition of her book, The Magnesium Miracle, came out in 2014 and in it you can learn about 22 medical areas that magnesium deficiency triggers or causes, all of which have all been scientifically proven. This includes:4


Anxiety and panic attacks Asthma Blood clots
Bowel diseases Cystitis Depression
Detoxification Diabetes Fatigue
Heart disease Hypertension Hypoglycemia
Insomnia Kidney disease Liver disease
Migraine Musculoskeletal conditions (fibromyalgia, cramps, chronic back pain, etc.) Nerve problems
Obstetrics and gynecology (PMS, infertility, and preeclampsia) Osteoporosis Raynaud’s syndrome
Tooth decay    

Early signs of magnesium deficiency include loss of appetite, headache, nausea, fatigue, and weakness. An ongoing magnesium deficiency can lead to more serious symptoms, including:

Numbness and tingling Muscle contractions and cramps Seizures
Personality changes Abnormal heart rhythms Coronary spasms

The Role of Magnesium in Diabetes, Cancer, and More

Most people do not think about magnesium when they think about how to prevent chronic disease, but it plays an essential role. For instance, there have been several significant studies about magnesium’s role in keeping your metabolism running efficiently—specifically in terms of insulin sensitivity, glucose regulation, and protection from type 2 diabetes.

Higher magnesium intake reduces risk of impaired glucose and insulin metabolism and slows progression from pre-diabetes to diabetes in middle-aged Americans.5 Researchers stated, “Magnesium intake may be particularly beneficial in offsetting your risk of developing diabetes, if you are high risk.”

Multiple studies have also shown that higher magnesium intake is associated with a higher bone mineral density in both men and women,6 and research from Norway has even found an association between magnesium in drinking water and a lower risk of hip fractures.7

Magnesium may even help lower your risk of cancer, and a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that higher intakes of dietary magnesium were associated with a lower risk of colorectal tumors.8

Results from the meta-analysis indicated that for every 100-mg increase in magnesium intake, the risk of colorectal tumor decreased by 13 percent, while the risk of colorectal cancer was lowered by 12 percent. The researchers noted magnesium’s anti-cancer effects may be related to its ability to reduce insulin resistance, which may positively affect the development of tumors.

Surprising Factors That Influence Your Magnesium Levels

Seaweed and green leafy vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard can be excellent sources of magnesium, as are some beans, nuts, and seeds, like pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame seeds. Avocados also contain magnesiumJuicing your vegetables is an excellent option to ensure you’re getting enough of them in your diet.

However, most foods grown today are deficient in magnesium and other minerals, so getting enough isn’t simply a matter of eating magnesium-rich foods (although this is important too). According to Dr. Dean:

“Magnesium is farmed out of the soil much more than calcium… A hundred years ago, we would get maybe 500 milligrams of magnesium in an ordinary diet. Now we’re lucky to get 200 milligrams.”

Herbicides, like glyphosate also act as chelators, effectively blocking the uptake and utilization of minerals in so many foods grown today. As a result, it can be quite difficult to find truly magnesium-rich foods. Cooking and processing further depletes magnesium.

Meanwhile, certain foods can actually influence your body’s absorption of magnesium. If you drink alcohol in excess, for instance, it may interfere with your body’s absorption of vitamin D, which in turn is helpful for magnesium absorption. If you eat a lot of sugar, this can also cause your body to excrete magnesium through your kidneys, “resulting in a net loss,” according to Dr. Danine Fruge, associate medical director at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Florida.9 The following factors are also associated with lower magnesium levels:10

  • Excessive intake of soda or caffeine
  • Menopause
  • Older age (older adults are more likely to be magnesium deficient because absorption decreases with age and the elderly are more likely to take medications that can interfere with absorption)
  • Certain medications, including diuretics, certain antibiotics (such as gentamicin and tobramycin), corticosteroids (prednisone or Deltasone), antacids, and insulin
  • An unhealthy digestive system, which impairs your body’s ability to absorb magnesium (Crohn’s disease, leaky gut, etc.)

Calcium, Vitamin K2, and Vitamin D Must Be Balanced with Magnesium

It may seem like you could remedy the risks of low magnesium simply by taking a supplement, but it’s not quite that simple. When you’re taking magnesium, you need to consider calcium, vitamin D3 and vitamin K2 as well, since these all work synergistically with one another. Excessive amounts of calcium without the counterbalance of magnesium can lead to a heart attack and sudden death, for instance. Research on the Paleolithic or caveman diet has shown that the ratio of calcium to magnesium in the diet that our bodies evolved to eat is 1-to-1.11Americans in general tend to have a higher calcium-to-magnesium ratio in their diet, averaging about 3.5-to-1.

If you have too much calcium and not enough magnesium, your muscles will tend to go into spasm, and this has consequences for your heart in particular. “What happens is, the muscle and nerve function that magnesium is responsible for is diminished. If you don’t have enough magnesium, your muscles go into spasm. Calcium causes muscle to contract. If you had a balance, the muscles would do their thing. They’d relax, contract, and create their activity,” Dr. Dean explains.

When balancing calcium and magnesium, also keep in mind that vitamins K2 and D need to be considered. These four nutrients perform an intricate dance together, with one supporting the other. Lack of balance between these nutrients is one of the reasons why calcium supplements have become associated with increased risk of heart attacks and stroke, and why some people experience vitamin D toxicity. Part of the explanation for these adverse side effects is that vitamin K2 keeps calcium in its appropriate place. If you’re K2 deficient, added calcium can cause more problems than it solves, by accumulating in the wrong places, like your soft tissue.

Similarly, if you opt for oral vitamin D, you need to also consume it in your food or take supplemental vitamin K2 and more magnesium. Taking mega doses of vitamin D supplements without sufficient amounts of K2 and magnesium can lead to vitamin D toxicity and magnesium deficiency symptoms, which include inappropriate calcification that may damage your heart.

Tips for Increasing Your Magnesium Levels

One way to really increase your magnesium, as well as many other important plant-based nutrients, is by juicing your greens. I typically drink one pint to one quart of fresh green vegetable juice every day, and this is one of my primary sources of magnesium. Organic foods may have more magnesium if grown in nutrient-rich soils but it is very difficult to make that determination. If you opt for a supplement, be aware that there are a wide variety of magnesium supplements on the market, because magnesium must be bound to another substance. There’s simply no such thing as a 100 percent magnesium supplement.

The substance used in any given compound can affect the absorption and bioavailability of the magnesium, and may provide slightly different, or targeted, health benefits. The table that follows summarizes some of the differences between the various forms. Magnesium threonate and citrate are some of the best sources, as it seems to penetrate cell membranes, including your mitochondria, which results in higher energy levels.Additionally, it also penetrates your blood-brain barrier and seems to do wonders to treat and prevent dementia and improve memory. If you take a supplement, you can use the “bowel test” to determine if you’re taking too much magnesium. Dr. Dean explains:12

The best way to tell if you are getting enough magnesium is the “bowel test”. You know when you have too much magnesium when your stools become loose. This, in fact, may be a blessing for people with constipation… [which] is one of the many ways magnesium deficiency manifests.”

Besides taking a supplement, another way to improve your magnesium status is to take regular Epsom salt baths or foot baths.Epsom salt is a magnesium sulfate that can absorb into your body through your skin.Magnesium oil can also be used for topical application and absorption. Whatever supplement you choose, be sure to avoid any containing magnesium stearate, a common but potentially hazardous additive.

Magnesium glycinate is a chelated form of magnesium that tends to provide the highest levels of absorption and bioavailability and is typically considered ideal for those who are trying to correct a deficiency. Magnesium oxide is a non-chelated type of magnesium, bound to an organic acid or a fatty acid. Contains 60 percent magnesium, and has stool softening properties
Magnesium chloride/Magnesium lactate contain only 12 percent magnesium, but has better absorption than others, such as magnesium oxide, which contains five times more magnesium Magnesium sulfate/Magnesium hydroxide (milk of magnesia) are typically used as laxatives. Be aware that it’s easy to overdose on these, so ONLY take as directed
Magnesium carbonate, which has antacid properties, contains 45 percent magnesium Magnesium taurate contains a combination of magnesium and taurine, an amino acid. Together, they tend to provide a calming effect on your body and mind
Magnesium citrate is magnesium with citric acid, which like most magnesium supplements has laxative properties but is well absorbed and cost effective Magnesium threonate is a newer, emerging type of magnesium supplement that appears promising, primarily due to its superior ability to penetrate the mitochondrial membrane, and may be the best magnesium supplement on the market
– Sources and References



Fantastic and helpful article by Dr. Mercola that Lyme/MSIDS patients should definitely read as we are often deficient in Magnesium.  We also suffer many similar symptoms – which begs the question – could our symptoms be ameliorated by supplementation?

Please discuss ALL supplementation with your health care provider.

Again, I receive no monies and have no ties to any companies.  The following is my personal experience.

My LLMD uses Reacted Magnesium by Ortho Molecular Products with great success.  I’ve been taking this for years now.  It does have the magnesium stearate Dr. Mercola warns about – but remember, it is a common, “potentially” hazardous additive.  It is very hard to find supplements without it and they cost substantially more.

This pdf will explain that this supplement has three forms of magnesium as well as:

Reacted Magnesium provides the additional benefit of highlyabsorbed, Albion® mineral chelates. Albion® is the world leader in manufacturing highly bioavailable mineral chelates, a specialized form of minerals bound to amino acids. This patented process creates organic mineral compounds which use active absorption mechanisms in the gastrointestinal tract to greatly enhance mineral absorption. In a magnesium comparison study reported by Graff et al. at Weber State University, Albion®’s magnesium amino acid chelate had (See Figure 1)[5]:

• 8.8 times greater absorption than magnesium oxide

• 5.6 times greater absorption than magnesium sulfate

• 2.3 times greater absorption than magnesium carbonate

I’m sure there are many other brands equally as effective.  Talk to your provider for suggestions.

For a great article explaining the various ways to test for magnesium deficiency:

Wouldn’t it be sweet if your fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, poor memory, and depression were helped or even eliminated by a simple supplement?