Those who follow paleo diets limit their intake of grains, legumes, dairy products, refined sugars, salt, some starches, and processed foods. That means prioritizing fruits, vegetables, leans meats, and fish wherever possible. (The diet allows for the consumption of specific nuts, seeds, and oils, as well.)
Paleo diets tend to be high in nutrients found in fruits and vegetables, as well as those found in lean meats. However, they tend to be low in nutrients found in dairy products and cereals, like calcium, thiamin, and riboflavin. Several studies have also found a link between paleo diets and iodine insufficiencies.
Calcium is primarily found in dairy products. And many of the other calcium sources the NIH recommends — soy products, breakfast cereals, and breads — are equally paleo-unfriendly. Because of this, paleo diets tend to be low in calcium.
Though it’s possible to meet the NIH’s recommended daily calcium intake from leafy green veggies alone, doing so would be a serious challenge. If you or your family are currently following a paleo diet (or even if you’re just doing Whole30), you might want to talk to your doctor to ensure you’re consuming enough calcium each day — and you may consider taking a supplement if you aren’t.
Thiamin is a B vitamin that impacts cell growth, development, and function, according to the NIH. The NIH recommends that women above the age of 19 consume 1.1 milligrams of the nutrient each day — that’s a little more than double the amount found in one cup of egg noodles or a 3-ounce pork chop. (This daily recommended intake increases to 1.4 milligrams for pregnant and breastfeeding women in the same age group.)
Thiamin is found in a number of grains, rices, and pastas — none of which are paleo-friendly. However, it is found in small amounts in chicken and several kinds of fish, so it is possible to consume enough thiamin on a paleo diet. That said, you may find it to be a challenge. So it’s worth it to speak with your primary care provider to ensure you’re consuming adequate thiamin, and to consider supplementing your intake if not.
Riboflavin is a B vitamin that contributes to energy production, cellular function and growth, and the metabolism of several substances, according to the NIH. The NIH recommends that women above the age of 19 consume 1.1 milligrams of riboflavin each day — that’s exactly the amount found in one cup of fortified instant oatmeal. (That daily recommended intake jumps to 1.4 milligrams among pregnant women and 1.6 milligrams among breastfeeding women.)
Riboflavin is found in a number of dairy products, whole grain products, and legumes — none of which are paleo-friendly. But it can also be found in certain meats, certain seafoods and eggs. Given this, it’s possible to consume adequate amounts of riboflavin on a paleo diet. But because the diet has been linked to riboflavin insufficiencies in some studies, it may be worth consulting your primary care provider to ensure you’re consuming enough of the vitamin and to discuss the possibility of taking a riboflavin supplement.
Iodine is primarily found in fish and seafood — both of which are veritably paleo-friendly. Strangely enough, though, studies have found a link between paleo diets and iodine insufficiencies. Given this, you may want to talk to your doctor to ensure you’re consuming enough iodine each day.
The good news? One-fourth teaspoon of iodized salt per day can provide adequate iodine, according to the Mayo Clinic. Salt may be dissuaded on a paleo diet, but we’re sure the powers that be wouldn’t fault you for this small exception. That said, if you’d prefer to consume your iodine in a different format, you can always talk to your primary care provider about taking a supplement.