Recently, two clients in a row reported that they finished the Whole 30 Diet and exercise plan and immediately got sick. When I checked them, I found they were both low in Vitamins A and K. Uh-oh.

Be sure to check in with me before launching into a special diet plan! Some diets might be a complete disaster for your unique body, or you might be disappointed with underwhelming results. A little bit of guidance can help you succeed with your diet plan and avoid some of the pitfalls of popular plans. Why was the Whole 30 Diet undermining the immune systems of my two clients?

What’s missing from Whole 30 diets

Here’s why: eating a high protein diet of lean muscle meats burns a lot of Vitamin A. When Vitamin A is deficient, things fall apart: infections take hold, hormone levels fall, protein doesn’t fully digest, mucus membranes – so important for immune functions – degrade, mineral uptake is limited leading to anemias and mineral deficiencies … scary stuff!

Vitamins A, K, and D are synergistic (that is, they combine to create an enhanced effect) and must all be available in a proper ratio to each other to work properly. Most health-conscious individuals and functional medicine doctors today are focused myopically on Vitamin D alone, but my clients know it’s important to take Vitamins A and K along with their Vitamin D.

My preferences for getting these three vitamins into your body are fermented cod liver oil (Green Pasture brand) and liver. I like taking cod liver oil straight, and I enjoy eating various liver products, but if that’s not you, both the oil and liver come in capsules.

Adding to the Whole 30 diet

If this diet tests well for you, I recommend you add these liver foods to your meals: liver pate, Braunschweiger, liverwurst, Herbed Liver Sausage (at Sprouts), chicken livers wrapped in bacon, liver and onions, and smoked oysters – which include all the organs.

Lean protein foods are also missing the glycine that you would get from eating skin and bone broth. Glycine is a key for complete protein digestion, in combination with the organ meat provisions. Drink bone broth during diets such as Whole 30 or PALEO. You can also use good quality gelatin powders as often as possible. I recommend Great Lakes brand gelatin, and Vital Proteins Collagen peptides gelatin.