Paleo Vitamins and Supplements: Supplements and Minerals for those on a Paleo Diet
What is Paleo?
Paleo refers to "Paleolithic," the era roughly two million years ago when early humans typically subsisted on a hunter-gatherer supplied diet. Proponents of the paleo diet believe that our genes and anatomy have not changed substantially since those days and neither has what our bodies need in terms of nutrients.
Paleo dieters seek to mimic the diet our ancestors ate, believing it will lead to lower body fat as well as lessen the risk of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.i
Paleo diet designers assume that these ancestors didn’t have the tools and technology to farm or cultivate livestock. They also believe that early humans subsisted mostly on the fruits and vegetables they could scavenge as well as the lean meat they could successfully hunt or catch. Paleo adherents typically eat only:
- Lean Meats
Though there are some disagreements about what specific fruits and vegetables were available in the Paleolithic era, generally this diet is high in protein and fiber while low in fat and carbohydrates, and avoids salt and sugar.ii
Other Potential Paleo Pitfalls
While you will want to discuss any dietary changes with your healthcare provider, you might not even see the results that you want with a paleo diet. It is difficult to achieve sustainable weight loss with this diet—it's simply too hard to rigorously follow it for life.vii It can also be difficult to plan meals, which requires preparing fresh food bought every week. The focus on meat and produce could mean your grocery store trips get more expensive, too.viii
Nutrition for Now
We can't know for sure all the details of our ancestors' diets: we weren't there to see it, and no archaeological record paints a full and complete picture. Although we can guess that our bodies evolved to suit the environment Paleolithic humans lived in, our diets today should provide a balance of the nutrients we need to energize ourselves, maintain a healthy body weight, and minimize the risk of chronic diseases.
There is some good in the paleo approach: it’s a very smart idea to avoid highly processed foods and curb the amount of salt and sugar in the diet. But eliminating entire categories of food such as whole grains and dairy can create nutritional gaps.
In general, medical supervision of people on the paleo diet is recommended: your healthcare provider will have the most accurate view of your health and nutritional status, and whether this diet is right for you. Talk to your healthcare provider today about vitamin and supplement options while on the paleo diet, and be sure to check in with them regularly if you start following this diet.
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i. Diet Review: Paleo Diet for Weight Loss. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-weight/diet-reviews/paleo-diet/. Accessed 10/8/2020. Referenced text is highlighted in source PDF.
iv. B Vitamins. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamins/vitamin-b/. Accessed 10/8/2020. Referenced text is highlighted in source PDF.
v. Vitamin D. https://health.ucdavis.edu/welcome/features/2014-2015/06/20150603_paleo-diet.html. Accessed 10/8/2020. Referenced text is highlighted in source PDF.
vi. Is the paleo diet safe for your health? https://health.ucdavis.edu/welcome/features/2014-2015/06/20150603_paleo-diet.html. Accessed 10/8/2020. Referenced text is highlighted in source PDF.
viii. Diet Review: Paleo Diet for Weight Loss. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-weight/diet-reviews/paleo-diet/. Accessed 10/8/2020. Referenced text is highlighted in source PDF.
x. Thiamin: Vitamin B1. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-b1/. Accessed on 2/17/2021. Referenced text is highlighted in source PDF.