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The best supplements for a low-carb diet

Go low carb without losing essential nutrients

Q: I’m not overweight, but I am diabetic, and my doctor thinks I should follow a low-carb diet to help control my blood sugar swings. Are there any supplements I should make sure to take?

Dr. Wright: In addition to a general vitamin-mineral supplementation program — which is essential for all of us in the 21st century — there are a few supplements very specific for low-carb diets.

Fruits and vegetables are the primary dietary sources of potassium. If you’re following a low-carb diet and aren’t eating at least five to six servings of vegetables every day, make sure to take at least 400 to 500 milligrams of potassium daily. Also, since there’s so much phosphorus in protein, be sure to offset it by taking a phosphorus-free calcium supplement daily. 1,000 milligrams is a good general dosage or perhaps a bit more if you’re a woman at or past menopause. This amount of calcium should always be accompanied by 300 to 400 milligrams of magnesium.

Unless you’re a tea drinker, there are virtually no flavonoids in low-carb diets. There’s very little flavonoid contained in animal protein, almost none in fats and oils, and only small amounts in vegetables. The best food sources — fruits and berries — should only be eaten in very limited quantities (if at all) on a low-carb plan. But flavonoids are crucial to your health. They strengthen arteries, veins, capillaries, and nearly all connective tissue, and some reduce the risk of heart attack and certain cancers. So you’ll also need to supplement with these as well.

Bilberry, hawthorn, grape-seed extract, ginkgo, Echinacea, and many other commonly used herbs contain flavonoids. If you’re using two or more of these, you may not need a specific flavonoid supplement. If you’re not taking herbs, my present recommendation for a nearly “pure flavonoid” supplement is Kyanthenol, a mixture of fruit- and berry-derived flavonoids. Take two capsules daily. Kyanthenol is available from natural food stores and compounding pharmacies.