There are no studies to support the claim that low-carb dieters need a specially formulated supplement. Granted, low-carb diets restrict or eliminate many nutritious foods, which can lead to poor intake of B vitamins (especially folic acid), fiber and magnesium because of few whole grains, calcium and vitamin D because of too few milk products, and beta carotene and vitamin C from too little produce. You easily can cover your nutrient basis with a less-expensive, moderate-dose multi, a calcium-magnesium supplement, and a fiber product (better yet, lose weight on a more sensible, healthy diet…but that’s another matter). No supplement can replace the thousands of health-enhancing phytochemicals lost when colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and other real foods are restricted on a low-carb diet. Also, don’t be fooled by claims that specially-tailored supplements contain extra nutrients designed to speed fat burning and aid weight loss on low-carb diets. Some products add carnitine, yet no research has found dieters to be deficient in this compound. Others add extra chromium to help build muscle, a benefit that turned out to be more hope than help.
That’s not saying you shouldn’t supplement. While you always should turn to food first for your nutritional needs, the reality is that when you drastically cut calories, restrict entire food groups, or go to any extreme to lose weight, your health suffers. Even non-dieters often fall short of optimal when it comes to one or more nutrients, so it’s a good idea for any dieter to take an inexpensive, broad-range, moderate-dose multiple vitamin and mineral supplement, plus extra calcium and magnesium. Just don’t expect it to turn a high-fat menu into a healthy meal.