Vitamin Deficiencies You Might Have If You're Following The Carnivore Diet

Love meat? Then you might also love the carnivore diet. While vegetarians might swear off meat, carnivores swear off carbs. That means no fruits, vegetables, whole grains, or nuts. The logic behind carb-zero in the carnivore diet is similar to the keto diet. You avoid large fluctuations in your blood sugar if your diet is high in carbohydrates. You could therefore lose weight because those carbs that aren't used for energy don't get stored as fat. By eliminating carbohydrates, your body turns to fat as its energy source (per Cleveland Clinic).

Like other high-protein, low-carb diets, you're also more likely to lose weight on a carnivore diet because protein fills you up, so you'll eat less at each meal (per Healthline). After all, reducing how many calories you eat each day is one of the keys to weight loss. Sure, the carnivore diet is restrictive, but you're eliminating the unhealthy, processed carbs such as packaged baked goods and sugary sodas that can lead to chronic conditions like type-2 diabetes. But you're also eliminating the good carbohydrates that include fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals needed for overall health. In particular, you'll miss vitamins C and E (per Self-Hacked).

Vitamins C and E are low in the carnivore diet

If your diet doesn't get at least 10 milligrams of vitamin C every day, you could develop scurvy after a few weeks. Symptoms of scurvy include depression, anemia, fatigue, and inflammation. Your body needs vitamin C to make collagen and to ward off free radicals that can damage your cells. Vitamin C also helps absorb iron from your food. You get vitamin C mainly from fruits and vegetables, which are abandoned on a carnivore diet. The vitamin C and other nutrients in these foods work together to help lower your risk for some cancers, cardiovascular disease, and age-related macular degeneration, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Vitamin E might also be tough to get on a carnivore diet unless you eat snails and fish eggs, such as roe. Vitamin E is another antioxidant that also supports your immune system and prevents blood clots. You need 15 milligrams of vitamin E a day, and a 4-ounce uncooked flank steak provides just 0.34 milligrams. Chicken liver only provides a little more vitamin E with 0.79 milligrams, but 100 grams of sockeye salmon will give you 0.83 milligrams. Meanwhile, if you eat 100 grams of roe, you'll get almost half your recommended amount of vitamin E. Snails will give you one-third of your vitamin E for the day.

Some deficiencies depend on your food choices

You could see other nutritional deficiencies if you don't include a wide variety of choices in your meat and seafood. For example, if most of the meat you eat comes from steak, salmon, or chicken, you could lose out on vitamin A. Vitamin A protects your vision and your major organs. However, adding beef, pork, or chicken liver can provide you with plenty of vitamin A. Grass-fed beef also has more vitamin A as beta-carotene than beef that hasn't been grass-fed. Liver meat can also provide more biotin and folate, which are two B vitamins essential for your cells and metabolism (per Self-Hacked).

The carnivore diet allows fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, which are good sources of vitamin D. You can also get some vitamin D by eating beef liver, egg yolks, and cheese on the carnivore diet. However, you'll miss out on the many vitamin D-fortified products such as milk, yogurt, and breakfast cereals that are avoided on the carnivore diet. The National Institutes of Health says the sun on your skin causes your body to make vitamin D, but winter weather, clouds, and pollution can limit your ability to get sun exposure. A vitamin D deficiency could lead to bone pain and weakness in children and teens. As an adult woman, you could develop osteoporosis if your body lacks sufficient vitamin D. Because you need vitamin D for your brain, low levels of vitamin D might be linked to depression.

Other nutritional problems with the carnivore diet

One possible side effect of the carnivore diet is constipation because animal protein lacks fiber (per Healthline). Even if you take a supplement to alleviate constipation while on the carnivore diet, you need plant-based fiber to improve the health of your gut bacteria. Without these gut bacteria working optimally, following the carnivore diet might run the risk of inflammation and unhealthy byproducts in your gut.

The types of meat you choose could also affect your health. Some animal products are high in fats that can increase your cholesterol, particularly if you're not exercising or eating foods to regulate cholesterol levels. Bacon and other processed meats are high in sodium, which could increase your blood pressure. High-sodium diets are also linked to kidney issues. Dietitians tell the Cleveland Clinic that the carnivore diet should be avoided if you have conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or cardiovascular disease.