One of the things people have asked me about following a ketogenic diet is, “How will I get enough Vitamin C?” Fear over vitamin deficiencies is one reason that people have given for not wanting to try a ketogenic diet. Many studies have shown that there is no need to fear.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a molecule that is needed by our bodies to maintain the health of our circulation and immune systems, among other things. Humans cannot produce Vitamin C. Primates lost that ability millions of years ago. Because we lack the enzyme necessary to make vitamin C from sugar, all of the vitamin C that we have in our body comes from the food we eat or the supplements we take. If we don’t eat foods with vitamin C, we risk developing scurvy and suffering fatigue, bleeding gums, poor wound healing, and potentially death from infection or bleeding. Good sources of vitamin C are fresh fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin C deficiency can occur in states of severe stress on the body such as surgical stress, severe infections and during cancer treatment. In those cases, high dose vitamin C in the form of IV nutritional therapy can be helpful in supporting the immune system to restore health.
However, because we are dependent on food intake for vitamin C, deficiency can also occur in states of malnutrition due to starvation or restrictive food intake. This is why some people are worried to embark on a keto-lifestyle.
However, ketogenic diets reduce stress on the body that is caused by sugar fluctuations and inflammation. It also increases levels of glutathione (the master antioxidant) and uric acid in the body, taking over much of the work done by vitamin C.
There are great posts here, here, and especially here about why you shouldn’t fear vitamin C deficiency while on a ketogenic diet. Go for it!