This means that supplementing on a Paleo diet has become more popular. Whether itâs Robb Wolf and Chris Kresserâs Paleologix line, SFHâs fish oil, Green Pastures fermented cod liver oil, or Prescript-Assist, all kind of products are commonly recommended to followers of the Paleo prescription.
Are Supplements Necessary?
First, I will quote Mat Lalonde (Ph.D in organic chemistry at Harvard) here. His view on supplementationâ¦
In my opinion, multi-vitamins are totally useless. Vitamin D3 is useful for those of us not getting enough sunshine. In other words almost everybody. If you live a solid lifestyle, then you really shouldnât require any vitamins. Also, if your diet is in âcheckâ, then there is really no need to supplement.
I couldnât have put it better myself. That being said, there are definitely supplements that can help people ease into the paleo style of eating, especially if they are metabolically deranged, have specific health issues, or are very nutritionally deprived. I do agree with Matâs suggestion of vitamin D3, so lets start there.
Vitamin D3 has emerged as a vital missing element for anyone in the northern hemisphere. Fifteen minutes of sunlight on bare skin is all it takes for vitamin D3 levels to be optimal, but anyone who has ever been through a harsh winter knows that even that small amount of time is nearly impossible for 3-4 months per year. This is where supplementation comes in.
Since vitamin D is actually a hormone, it is not needed from the diet. As mentioned, given sufficient sunlight, your body can synthesize all the vitamin D it needs from sunlight and your bodiesâ store of cholesterol. A provitamin form of vitamin D, called 7âdehydrocholesterol, is converted to inactive D3, or cholecalciferol, when enough sunshine is present. The liver then converts this to calcidiol, which is then converted by the parathyroid hormone in your kidneys to calcitriol, the primary active form of vitamin D.
Since the recommendations for vitamin D have gone higher and higher as scientists work out the intricacies and since there are no foods that can possibly provide all the required amount, supplementation actually does make sense. I would argue for almost anyone in the world, especially those in the northern hemisphere.
Mat Lalonde recommends 1000 IUs per 25 pounds of bodyweight, per day. This puts me, a 175 pound male, at roughly 7000 IUs per day.
If supplementing, I recommend the liquid form of vitamin D3, which is very easy to find at high potencies and also very cheap.
The idea of supplementing with fish oil has been around for a long time and for good reason. Omega 3 is typically low in the standard American diet, and omega 6, which is inflammatory, is typically high. Besides eliminating foods high in O6, we want to increase levels of O3. Besides eating fish, one of the easiest methods is to take a fish oil supplement.
Though initial estimates were high, it has now been fairly well agreed upon that 3-4g of fish oil per day is a good amount. If you are concerned with what kind, look for a brand that is high in DHA, which is docosahexaenoic acid, since this form of O3 can be retro converted to EPA, but not vice versa.
Fermented What Now?!
The first time I took fermented cod liver oil, I got some odd looks. And that is putting it politely. Expanding upon the concept of fish oil, fermented cod liver oil also contains vitamin A, D and K2 (K2 is present in the butter blend form, which I would recommended).
Since it is a fermented food, it should come as no surprise that it has quite a pungent smell. However, since it is highly touted by such Paleo luminaries as Chris Kresser, and is a great source of vitamins that are commonly lacking (especially if you purchase the butter blend), FCLO is worth a shot.
A Pill For Gut Health
When someone explains to you for the first time that you need bacteria in your stomachâ¦you likely think that theyâre crazy. But this is the scientific truth.
No doubt you must have good bacteria in your gut to help fight off bacteria, inflammation and keep good mental health.
However, a round of antibiotics indiscriminately wipes out ALL bacteria in the gut, leaving you depleted. This is especially true in the cases of multiple rounds of antibiotics throughout your life or if your diet is typically lacking in fermented foods (as is usually the case).
This is where Prescript-AssistÂ® comes in. Being a broad spectrum prebiotic and probiotic, Prescript-AssistÂ® helps restore healthy gut flora. Since it is made from soil-based organisms and doesnât need to be refrigerated, it is my #1 go-to for restoring a healthy gut.
Note that it is fairly intense, so you may want to start with 1 pill a day and slowly ramp up to 2.
Alpha Lipoic Acid
The only antioxidant that is both fat and water soluble, alpha lipoic acid works well for fighting sugar cravings and stabilizing blood sugar, which is very key when first adopting a Paleo diet. I first heard of this suggestion via Robb Wolf, and he used it to help in restoring his adrenal health. Fairly cheap, and very effective, ALA is definitely worth trying and has no real downside.
If you are a female reading this article, pay close attention to the next few sentences. I bet that you are magnesium deficient. If you have any trouble around your cycle, be it with sleeping, or with chocolate cravings, pay close attention. Magnesium supplementation is key for coffee drinkers as well, as caffeine depletes the body of its magnesium stores.
A controversial move in some peopleâs eyes, since Robb Wolf initially said: ââ¦this is part of our reticence to recommend nutritional supplements to folksâ the PaleologixÂ® supplement line has now been around for a little while.
While it is a little overpriced, as all supplement lines tend to be, it is well researched, well formulated, and serves its purpose. Aimed at people who are new to Paleo and may have trouble adjusting, PaleologixÂ® contains 3 different products, all of which may have slightly less than optimal amounts of ingredients (another common problem when purchasing something similar to a multivitamin).
That being said, they are free of fillers, and the AdaptaBoost product in particular should help a large amount of people.
Since a large percentage of Paleo eaters are iodine deficient, it may be a good idea to supplement. Note that thyroid problems can occur if too much or too little iodine is in the diet. Your body has no way to store iodine, so a little bit must be consumed every day. Himalayan sea salt can be added to meals to meet your iodine requirements.
What is your opinion on Paleo supplements? What has worked well, or not worked well, for you? Let us know in the comments!