Top 5 Supplements for Cancer Patients

Elizabeth Sherwood RN MS ANP-C specializes in Integrative Oncology care and has more than 35 years of clinical experience. She is well-versed in conventional, alternative, and integrative therapies, and places special focus on the benefits of nutritional choices, supplements and repurposed medications. Elizabeth also has advanced knowledge in the use of medicinal cannabis for both symptom management and integrative care protocols for those dealing with cancer.

After a cancer diagnosis, patients are often left wondering, “what now?”


One thing that may help immediately is to start a supplement regimen. Some supplements can shrink cancer tumors and prevent cancer growth. When used alongside traditional cancer treatments, supplements can be a powerful tool.

However, before taking every vitamin supplement on your pharmacy shelf, know that some supplements can interfere with treatment. Therefore, cancer patients should always talk to a healthcare provider before taking supplements to ensure they will not interfere with their treatment or other medication.


The top 5 supplements that are the most likely to benefit cancer patients are:

  • Vitamin D
  • Berberine
  • Melatonin
  • Quercetin
  • Resveratrol


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Vitamin D

Studies have found a correlation between a vitamin D deficiency and an increased risk of developing certain cancers, including colon, breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer. There’s still reason to be optimistic for those who have already been diagnosed. Increasing vitamin D levels can be a powerful and cost-effective way to combat cancer and keep it from growing.


It is easy to become vitamin D deficient, especially for those living in northern climates who are less likely to see natural sunlight than those in southern, warmer temperatures. It is challenging to get sufficient amounts of vitamin D from food alone.


Ask your doctor to check your vitamin D level through blood work. Cancer patients want to have a vitamin D level of around 60 ng/ml. If you are deficient, your doctor will recommend a supplement, likely around 2,000–5,000 IU/day. They may also suggest that you go outdoors in the sun without sunscreen for a few minutes a day to get a natural boost.




Berberine (BBR) inhibits cell proliferation by regulating the cell cycle and cell autophagy, which is a process that can suppress tumor growth in cancer patients. Further, BBR has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that regulate the tumor microenvironment.


BBR offers many benefits for most cancer patients. However, it can lower blood sugar levels, which can be dangerous for those taking medicine for diabetes.

  • Cancer patients currently taking medication for diabetes should speak with a health care professional before taking berberine.



Many people are familiar with melatonin for its sleep-inducing effects. These are important for cancer patients, as studies have shown a correlation between a disrupted circadian rhythm and tumor growth.


However, melatonin has other benefits as well. Studies have shown that melatonin can reduce cell cancer proliferation and tumor growth for multiple cancer types. So, taking melatonin can help cancer patients sleep better and fight cancer cells simultaneously.




The natural phytonutrient/flavonol Quercetin comes from plant sources and is found in many food sources, including olive oil, sage, tea, and many fruits. It has been shown to cause cell cycle arrest in many forms of cancer, including prostate, cervical, lung, colon, and breast cancers.



The polyphenol compound resveratrol is found naturally in foods like grapes, berries, and some nuts. This antioxidant also has cardioprotective and anti-cancer properties. Lab studies demonstrate that resveratrol can fight cancer cells and increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy.

As stated earlier, cancer patients should always talk to a healthcare provider before they begin taking supplements. Some supplements can adversely interact with certain medications.


Get an Individualized Protocol

Heal Navigator makes it easy for cancer patients to speak directly with an integrative oncology nurse who can help them understand which supplements may benefit their treatment. In addition to learning more about supplements and herbs, cancer patients can get a personalized holistic plan that helps their bodies stay strong as they continue to fight cancer.

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