When it comes to dietary supplements, there are far too many options to choose from. If you’ve ever walked by the vitamin aisle of your local health or grocery store, you may have noticed how many different kinds of vitamins and supplements there are.

Dietary supplements are any kind of vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals, and amino acids that you can eat or drink. Supplements come in all shapes and sizes, such as:

  • pills
  • powders
  • tablets
  • capsules
  • liquids

People take supplements for different reasons. The main function of dietary supplements is to do exactly what the name implies — supplement an existing diet. Vitamins and mineral tablets aren’t meant to take the place of a healthy and nutritious diet.

That being said, taking the right supplements with a nutritious and well-rounded diet can provide a host of added health benefits.

For example, supplements can fill in the nutritional gaps of your diet, and can even assist the body in preventing and assisting in the treatment of certain kinds of illnesses, including cancer.

Cancer and supplements

When it comes to cancer of any kind, it’s important to realize that no dietary supplement can fully treat, cure, or prevent cancer. However, there are some supplements that can potentially help prevent cancer or assist in your cancer recovery.

While many vitamins and minerals can benefit your general health, there’s a huge market of unregulated supplements that may provide no added benefit to your health. Certain supplements even have the potential to negatively impact cancer treatments. This is because some supplements can counteract medications or medical therapies.

If you’re thinking about supplementing your diet with anti-cancer vitamins, always talk to your doctor first.

1. Ground flax seed

Most people use fish oil supplements to enhance the amount of omega-3’s in their diet. However, fish oil was shown in one study on mice to possibly reduce the effectiveness of chemotherapy, and for that reason ground flax seed is a worthy alternative.

Flax seed is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may reduce the risk of certain cancers. When supplementing, try to avoid flaxseed oil because it lacks the nutrients of ground flax seed.

Ground flax seed can be purchased online or found in many larger grocery store chains. Simply sprinkle some ground flax seed on your food and enjoy.

2. Garlic

Garlic is a great choice when it comes to giving your body a little extra protection. To reap the benefits of garlic, you should eat one clove per day, or 300 to 1,000 milligrams (mg) of garlic extract.

Protective effects may include:

  • antibacterial properties
  • blocking and halting the activation of cancer-causing substances
  • enhanced DNA repair
  • a reduction in cancer cells spreading

3. Ginger

Ginger is suggested to play a beneficial role against cancer because of its anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea properties.

When it comes to adding ginger to your diet, ginger supplements can be too concentrated and aren’t recommended. Instead, cut up and add fresh ginger root to a meal or purchase ginger candy for a quick snack.

Avoid excessive amounts of ginger, as it may interact with blood thinners and affect certain people’s blood sugar levels.

4. Green tea

Green tea is an excellent antioxidant, and studies show the properties of green tea help protect against metastasis of certain kinds of cancer. Green tea also contains chemicals called polyphenols that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

If you have cancer, consider drinking up to 3 cups of green tea per day to experience the benefits. Green tea pills are also available, but may be too concentrated.

5. Selenium

The mineral selenium removes free radicals from the body, making it a potential defense against cancer. Free radicals are the unstable molecules that attack cells and can eventually lead to cancer if they’re not removed.

Too much selenium can be toxic, but doses as high as 300 micrograms (mcg) have been shown to reduce certain kinds of cancer, including cancers of the:

  • esophagus
  • colon
  • lung
  • liver

The recommended daily amount of selenium is 55 mcg. You can get your daily dose via supplements, or through foods like cereal, grains, and Brazil nuts.

6. Turmeric

The Indian spice turmeric can be extremely helpful when it comes to fighting cancer. Studies show that the curcumin in turmeric may kill cancer cells and slow tumor growth.

The benefits of curcumin may include:

  • blocking cancer cells from multiplying
  • killing colon, breast, prostate, and melanoma cancer cells
  • slowing tumor growth

Add some turmeric to your next dish, or take a supplement containing curcumin to experience the benefits of this powerful substance.

7. Vitamin D

Vitamin D can absorb calcium and help the immune, muscle, and nervous systems function properly.

According to BreastCancer.org, research suggests that certain cancers such as breast cancer, can have a higher risk of occurring when the body has low levels of vitamin D.

The recommended daily amount of vitamin D is 15 mcg. Vitamin D can be absorbed through sunlight, or with the following diet:

8. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an excellent cancer-fighting nutrient. Vitamin E is fat-soluble and acts as a strong antioxidant, helping the body remove cell-damaging free radicals.

Vitamin E can significantly decrease the risk for prostate, colon, and lung cancers. In fact, low amounts of vitamin E may increase the risk of cancer. It’s important to get enough of this vitamin daily from diet or supplements.

The recommended daily amount of vitamin E is 8 to 10 mg. You can also eat the following foods to supplement vitamin E in your diet:

The best way to prevent cancer is by maintaining good health, like from eating a nutritious whole-food diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, and exercising. While there’s no silver bullet vitamin, there are some anti-cancer supplements on the market that may help you keep the disease at bay or stop it from getting worse.

These supplements are merely a suggestion. Whether you’re living with cancer, a survivor, or just concerned for your health, talk to your doctor to determine the best treatment for you.