There are several supplements you may want to consider taking while undergoing chemotherapy. Research is inconclusive on exactly which vitamins you should take; ask your doctor and conduct your own research as well. You can also consult a registered dietician to see whether you can consume any necessary vitamins and minerals through your diet.
Fat-Soluble Vitamins A, D, E and K
Fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E and K. Vitamin A may reduce your risk of cancer and prevent infection. It also helps your vision and eye health. Getting enough vitamin D is important for helping your body absorb calcium. Your body gets the vitamin D it needs if you expose your skin to natural sunlight, although too much sunlight isn't good for your skin and can increase your cancer risk. Increasing vitamin E in your diet before beginning chemotherapy can retard hair loss. Vitamin E may also alleviate pain and help reduce inflammation, according to Women & Infants: Nutrition Tips During Chemotherapy.
Water-Soluble Vitamins: All B Vitamins and Vitamin C
Water-soluble vitamins include all B vitamins, along with vitamin C. Vitamins B6 and B12 have been studied and have shown to be preventative against some types of cancers, including breast and cervical cancer. Adding a vitamin B complex to your diet may give you more energy and help your body metabolize the food you eat. Vitamin C helps boost your immune system and can help fight infections.
Selenium, Calcium, Magnesium
Selenium has been shown to reduce hair loss, minimize abdominal pain and eliminate having a loss of appetite. Calcium is important to build your bone strength, which may be weakened during chemo. Adding magnesium to your diet can help fight fatigue and ward off muscle pain.
Additional Herbs and Supplements
Herbs can come in a pill, powder, or leaf form. Herb leaves are traditionally used in teas. Ginger and caraway seed can help alleviate symptoms if you are feeling nauseous, according to the Cancer Cure Foundation. Stomach pains can be diminished by mixing 1 tsp. arrowroot with licorice tea. Blue-green algae may be used to prevent viral infections during chemotherapy. You may enjoy ginseng in a tea form to help boost the immune system. Cooking with garlic can help fight cancer and prevent infection. Garlic properties change drastically during processing and cooking. In order for you to get the maximum benefits from garlic, use it in its fresh form instead of taking it as a supplement.
- The Cancer Cure Foundation: Dealing with the Side Effects of Chemotherapy and Radiation
- The Journal of Nutrition: The Role of Dietary Supplements During Cancer Therapy
- Women & Infants: Nutrition Tips During Chemotherapy
- Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: About Herbs, Botanicals & Other Products