With the Paleo diet, you will mostly be consuming whole, nutritious and real foods, so you may think that you may not need any supplementation with the diet. However, getting in enough micro-nutrients is essential with any diet and some supplements should be taken just for overall individual health. It’s normal to be skeptical with taking any type of supplement, considering there are so many on the market.
For those Paleo followers thinking, “But cavemen didn’t take any supplements!” I completely understand, but we are not cavemen and overall health should always be the first priority. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as just taking a multivitamin, considering most multivitamins provide very little benefit at all. Here are some supplements Paleo dieters may want to consider.
For General Health
DHA/EPA fish oil supplement: For general health, fish oil is a great way to add in some Omega-3 fatty acids into one’s diet. Most people have an unbalanced ratio of omega 6 to omega 3’s in their diet and tissues. Originally, fish oil has been praised for it’s anti-inflammatory properties and cardiovascular benefits, but eating actual foods with higher ratios of omega 3’s seem to have a greater benefit. Either way, it’s best to play it safe and supplement with fish oil.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is a great supplement for overall health, considering most people don’t get enough sun as it is. People get vitamin D in two ways: from food(mostly fish) and from the sun. If your sun exposure is relatively low, supplementing with vitamin D is a great way to get it in.
Prebiotics: Prebiotics provide fiber that the gut flora can eat. Supplementation with prebiotics during a paleo diet can help if the individual doesn’t eat enough carbohydrates and fiber while eating Paleo.
Probiotics: Probiotics provide an infusion of extra gut flora and can help improve gut health. You can also get probiotics from fermented foods such as sauerkraut and certain yogurts. As mentioned before, most people who eat Paleo do not get a lot of carbohydrates in their diet unless they are from fruit, potatoes, and vegetables. Probiotics can help with digestion for anyone following the this diet.
Magnesium: Magnesium has been shown to help relieve constipation, but it provides many other benefits as well. It can help with muscle cramps, blood clotting, sleep and muscle contractions. You may have a magnesium deficiency if you are experiencing headaches, fatigue, loss of appetite and weakness.
Coenzyme 10: CoQ10 as it’s commonly called, helps with mitochondrial electron transfer and helps prevent damage from free radicals. CoQ10 is a fat soluble vitamin, which makes it important for individuals on Paleo eating a high meat diet or those who are endurance athletes.
Vitamin C: For those Paleo dieters who eat very little fruit and are following a more low-carb Paleo approach, it can be difficult to get in enough vitamin C. Supplementation can help, but whole foods are always preferred.
Minerals Selenium, Iron, and Iodine: These three supplements are needed for optimal thyroid function. Relative to seafood, the Paleo diet is too low in DHA and Iodine, with Iodine being related to hypothyroidism. The more red meat one eats, the more one can expect to become iodine deficient, due to the fact that Iodine is more prevalent in seafood and not in red meat. Eating more seafood is a good way to get in Iodine, especially with food such as shrimp. Iron isn’t too much of an issue, but eating too much fructose from fruit and having absorption problems in the gut can cause too much iron in the blood, which can be problematic. Too much can cause testosterone levels to drop and free estrogen levels to rise. Finally, selenium helps strengthen the immune system, helps with thyroid function, and can help fight cancer and reduce stress. Most Paleo dieters do not get in enough selenium but can through supplementation, brazil nuts, and fish like yellowfin tuna and halibut.
The Paleo diet is a great way to start implementing whole foods into one’s diet, but can be deficient in certain nutrients and vitamins and minerals. Supplementation can help, but whole foods are always the best option.