Exogenous ketones are becoming more popular as advancements in scientific research continue to show how they work to improve both health and performance. At first, the only options for delivering exogenous ketones were unpalatable ketone esters; however, exogenous ketones can now be taken in the form of ketone mineral salts that are more palatable and easily blended in water. Making ketone mineral salts involves combining beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) with mineral salts such as sodium, calcium, magnesium, or potassium. Before considering whether ketone supplements are a good option, most people immediately look at the salt load, and rightfully so. It is important to take into account the nutritional and health impact of not only the BHB but the minerals that are used to make the product.
Your brain has a very tight barrier so not everything in the blood can get through. This is called the blood brain barrier. Because your brain uses 25% of the energy that your entire body uses throughout the day, you need to make sure it is fueled appropriately. Glucose can’t directly cross the blood brain barrier. When you eat carbs, you get swings in energy that is available to cross the blood brain barrier which leads to mental fog.
One common concern regarding the KD is its purported potential to increase the risk of atherosclerosis by elevating blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels [55, 56]. This topic remains controversial as some, but not all, studies have demonstrated that the KD elevates blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides [57–62]. Kwitervich and colleagues demonstrated an increase in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and a decrease in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) in epileptic children fed the classical KD for two years . In this study, total cholesterol increased by ~130 %, and stabilized at the elevated level over the 2-year period. A similar study demonstrated that the lipid profile returned to baseline in children who remained on the KD for six years . Children typically remain on the diet for approximately two years then return to a diet of common fat and carbohydrate ingestion . The implications of these findings are unclear, since the influence of cholesterol on cardiovascular health is controversial and macronutrient sources of the diet vary per study. In contrast to these studies, the majority of recent studies have suggested that the KD can actually lead to significant benefits in biomarkers of metabolic health, including blood lipid profiles [65–72]. In these studies, the KD positively altered blood lipids, decreasing total triglycerides and cholesterol while increasing the ratio of HDL to LDL [68–77]. Although, the KD is well-established in children, it has only recently been utilized as a strategy to control seizures in adults. In 2014, Schoeler and colleagues reported on the feasibility of the KD for adults, concluding that 39 % of individuals achieved > 50 % reduction in seizure frequency, similar to the results reported in pediatric studies. Patients experienced similar gastrointestinal adverse advents that have been previously described in pediatric patients, but they did not lead to discontinuation of the diet in any patient .
The current recommendation for magnesium is 310-320 mg for adult women and 400-420 mg for adult men. Magnesium deficiencies are common; 2005-2006 data indicates that the majority of Americans’ dietary magnesium intake was less than the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) for the respective age groups. The EAR for a nutrient is about 20% LESS than the RDA. Current data on magnesium intake and deficiency in the US is not readily available, as magnesium testing is not part of routine electrolyte testing in hospitals and clinics.
While exogenous ketones (EK) are a newer supplement, having entered the market for consumers in just the past few years, scientists have been synthesizing ketone bodies in a lab since the 1960’s. They were useful for scientists studying their use for specific disease conditions, most notably childhood seizure disorders, though they were prohibitively expensive for consumers (1, 2).
BHB easily crosses the blood-brain barrier resulting in easily accessible energy to the brain and muscle tissues, becoming a source of energy after entering the mitochondria, being converted to Acetyl-CoA, and then ATP through the Krebs cycle (the same process that glucose goes through to become ATP). This ultimately results in many direct benefits, including:
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