Supplements while on chemo: Hi. Does anyone have... - My Ovacome

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Supplements while on chemo



Does anyone have a comprehensive list of supplements that should not be taken while on chemo?

If I ask my onc he says to take nothing, whereas naturapaths recommend various things to mitigate chemo side effects. I take a probiotic and omega 3, plus a selection of other vitamins and minerals.

I have also heard that pro biotic yoghurt and blue cheese shouldn't be eaten, though I have never been told this at the hospital, and ate the live yogurt throughout my treatment last time. Surely if it was that important, we would be given the information at the time of treatment.

Hoping you can help me out here Jenny

46 Replies

Hi Jenny

They seem to be a bit more relaxed about what you can eat on chemo since I last did it 5 years ago. However I have recently been told not to eat yoghurt with probiotics added but it’s ok to eat ordinary live culture yoghurt. Pro and pre biotics seem to be a particular no no. I would check if I were you xx

Newbie_2020 in reply to Lyndy

As per my other reply, different views are out there. My Oncology nurse advised against anything that has live bacteria in it and she was precise about yogurt and cheese.

27-359 in reply to Lyndy

Thanks for that, I thought "live" meant it contained pro biotics. I will need to check that out.


jwilliamsb in reply to 27-359

It does mean that - otherwise it wouldn't be live...


Hi, in nearly 13 years since diagnosis, 2 recurrences, 3 trial drugs (currently on 3rd) Ive never once been told to avoid eating anything. I belong to a facebook page and a lot of ladies say that seville oranges should be avoided whilst taking the drug Im on. I asked my Onc about that (having been on the drug 6.5 years) and he said that wasnt relevant. Funnily after an analyphatic shock during chemo I became allergic to Orange zest so tend to avoid them anyway. I think the point Im trying to make is it depends on what yr Oncologist recommends rather that a blanket no for certain foods and supplements. I know I certainly never gave up blue cheese (god forbid cos I love blue cheese!) or yoghurt. Kathy xx

delia2 in reply to Katmal-UK

Kathy, what about alcohol on Olaparib? I’ve been on it two and a half months and no longer have nausea.

Katmal-UK in reply to delia2

Hi Delia, I'm not a regular drinker of alcohol (never have been) usually only when I am on holiday or a special occasion and then only a couple but I've never been told to avoid it and never had any reaction .

delia2 in reply to Katmal-UK


27-359 in reply to Katmal-UK

Yes, I love blue cheese too!


Different views are out there from medics and no consensus on this. I took the list of supplements with me on my first appointment with the oncologist, as I was advised. It has minerals (iron, selenium, magnesium and zinc) and vitamins (B-Complex, Vit C, D, and B12) , plus Omega 3, 6, 9 and Adaptogens (Ginseng and Ashwagandha). He only asked, if any of this is mushroom based. I said No. He was happy with all. So, I continued taking them.

27-359 in reply to Newbie_2020

That sounds like a good idea, but I suspect my onc will just give a blanket no to everything.


Hi,When I had chemo 4 years ago I was given a list of foods not to eat. ie. soft cheese, soft boiled eggs, cooked meats from the deli, takeaways, shell fish. I did continue with a general vitamin tablet which I will continue with when I start chemo on Friday.

I think lime everything all Oncologists have their own views on these things.

Sorry I cannot be more helpful.x

27-359 in reply to Caleda4

As you say, they all have their own thoughts. I think I just want one that tells me what I want to hear!!!


Hi there.

It’s so hard to know exactly what is best to eat (& what not) to give ourselves the best chance of survival.

I haven’t been given any advise on this but my oncologist advised not to take supplements but to have a wide & varied healthy diet so it includes as much of the vitamins & minerals our bodies need in their natural form.

I did find out if you have one Brazil nut each day there’s more than enough selenium in it for your recommended daily allowance.

Best of luck with it all,

Lynne xx

Oh dear. Now I am going to have to add Brazil nuts to my daily supplements.


I was never told what or what not to eat, just a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and veg. Whenever I ask my consultant if I can take something, he always says ‘no it doesn’t make any difference’ so I don’t! x

27-359 in reply to Doglover1410

I do wonder if it makes any difference myself, but feel that I am taking a bit of control in a situation where I actually have no control at all.


Doglover1410 in reply to 27-359

I think if you put it more like ‘I am taking xxx will that be ok with my chemo’ maybe they’d be a bit more open! x

I am finding discussion a bit difficult now that it is all done by phone. Added to that, my regular onc is not there (not sure why) so I am talking to someone I have never met and have no relationship with.

It looks as though I will be starting chemo without even seeing or being examined by him! Not sure I like this remote treatment.


Yeah I get what you mean 27_359.remote is not for me either, I had my stand in too with no relationship . But im quite pragmatic so just got to the point and hopefully see Dr next time . Supplements.. after 3 years and little time off chemo ... on drug 5 now .I only take b12 works well for me . I eat fresh and not a big red meat eater.. gone off booze altogether although wasnt a big drinker before so no loss. Watch supplements you take as they can cause constipation!!.my advise live every day eat what you want and can. PMT . Stop thinking to hard about it as it will rule your life.. enjoy what we have . You can do it 😁😁😁.xx

27-359 in reply to SuziTench1

I have always taken various vitamins and minerals, was vegetarian for over 30 years, and have studied nutrition closely over time.

I find it hard to give up my supplementation and don't believe modern, much travelled food can adequately supply our needs.

I know my thoughts are questionable but leaving those pricey little pills in the packet is so hard for me.

OMG I think I'm an addict!


Hi, All chemo is different you should talk to your oncologist. I was told to stop taking turmeric but otherwise okay. Take care Sue xx

Newbie_2020 in reply to SUE7777

Exactly all Chemo are different. Surprisingly, my oncologist recommended I take Turmeric. Someone has been told not to have garlic-based supplements, for example. We learn every day.

27-359 in reply to SUE7777

That's funny, I thought turmeric was beneficial for people with cancer.

It's a minefield isn't it?


SUE7777 in reply to 27-359

It's definitely a minefield and the trouble is we poor mortals have to rely on the experts. That's just what my oncologist said, I think she was worried it might interfere with the chemo. I want to start taking it again so will run it by her now I've finished chemo. Good luck and take care, Sue xx

Hi Jenny, I don't know the answer to the probiotic question, just to say the oncologist is in charge of your treatment so if anything goes wrong.........

Sorry I can't help further, I'm pretty new to all this.

Take care and all the best. Sue xx

27-359 in reply to SUE7777

I know. Follow expert advice!


I have been on chemo twice and now on olaparib. The only food I have been told that I must not take is seville oranges and grapefruit as it appears to affect the absorption of olaparib. I am a vegan so take vitamin B12. I also take a teaspoon of wheatgrass each day. My blood levels are fine.

Having suffered low white blood cells on previous treatment - one time resulting in the need for a blood transfusion, I decided to try Turkey tail mushroom this time round - the Chinese medical profession give it to patients during chemo to boost white blood cells? Fingers crossed 🤞

27-359 in reply to lyn1987

An earlier post on this thread said that her onc said to avoid anything mushroom related!

That's why I find this whole subject so confusing.


I was told not to ear anything with bacteria such as live yoghurt and soft cheese - this was not because of the chemo therapy it is because your immune system is low And not to take a supplement - they pick up deficiencies from your blood test - so in my case I was prescribed magnesium 💕

jwilliamsb in reply to Catgir

I don't understand that; if you take magnesium during chemo, surely it keeps your magnesium levels up, which is what you want, rather than not taking it and then having to take it because its got low... doesn't make sense to me. I take it every day, along with Vitamin D, calcium and Vitamin K2 (because magnesium aids calcium absorption), have done for years, and I haven't stopped during chemo - take it for my bones because I'm osteopenic. Not that I've mentioned it to the oncologist, I just continue with it anyway.


I think the idea behind taking nothing they give you themselves is so it’s akin to a ground zero picture so they can fully and properly see the effects chemo is having on you. If you’re not up front about supplements and such like then they can’t assess your results having taken those vitamin/mineral supplements into account. They look at your results not just to look at giving supplements but also whether they need to adjust your treatment.

The food thing is essentially like the one they recommend for pregnancy as it’s the higher risk of infection and subsequently fighting that infection. Other than that at The Christie they were happy for you to eat what you wanted as the most important thing was actually getting sustenance and of course many are pretty ill before starting treatment x

I understand what you;re saying in principle, but quite honestly, if they were that fussed about what minerals or vitamins you have always taken, you'd think they'd ask if it were that important when you're on chemo. They certainly knew about the Adcal because they were giving it to me in hospital after my surgery, and they knew I was taking magnesium with it at the time, so it must be recorded in my notes. No one said a word about it when I started chemo and I only asked about starting to take ALA while on chemo - which was a no.

Carboplatin depletes the body from magnesium. It has been monitored amongst the blood tests and before each chemo. Although, I have been taking magnesium daily, 450mg elemental, the levels were dropping consistently with each chemo. I have increased the dose (doubled my daily dose) with the 3rd chemo and the levels continued to dropped but not to a level that needed an IV dose.

Thanks for that - I was aware magnesium can be a problem when on carbo (and other chemos) but so far, no one's mentioned mine being an issue - the only element they've mentioned is potassium, which was borderline too high last time bloods were done. I shall enquire about both magnesium and potassium levels next the meantime, have cut right back on the tomatoes and soft fruits in hopes it helps reduce the potassium level. Still eating my daily banana though, for its magnesium...


Carboplatinum and most chemo upset the balance of all electrolytes in the body. When Magnesium drops it pulls the sodium with it and as a result of both deficiencies, the levels of potassium will increase, referred to as Hypokalemia.

That might explain why I keep craving salty snacks, which I never normally eat - I've eaten more ready salted crisps, prawn crackers and Pringles in the last 3 days than I've ever eaten in my life, my Tesco delivery this week was very unusual for me! Normally I intensely dislike salty foods. I am also on heparin, have been for some years, and that can cause raised potassium levels on its own, so I've always had to be careful not to eat too many potassium rich foods...

Now that you mentioned Heparin, it does cause ostopenia and continues to deplete the body from calcium and vitamin D which, thank goodness, you are on to of that and supplementing. If you also take b12 and/or b-complex, take them, all, 4 hrs apart from Heparin.

Thanks. When I take B complex, I do it in the morning (and no tea for 1 hour before or after) because I know it can keep some people awake taken late in the day, but the other vitamins and minerals I take in the evening,usually 2 hours after my heparin shot. It depends what I've eaten though - calcium has to be 2 hours apart from anything with oxalates, like spinach or oats... Timing of vitamin and mineral ingestion to ensure absorption is a bit of a minefield, isn't it...

Like everyone says, each oncologist is different. One of the problems is that many supplements, vitamins and minerals have never been tested alongside of chemo treatment, so they often just give a blanket 'no' based on 'just in case' really. Certainly, my onco did not want me to take any of the COC protocol drugs at the same time as chemo, nor anything else, yet the COC says quite categorically yes, do. And certainly, some women do continue to take that regime and other supplements at the same time, as anyone who's read Jane McLelland's book will know...


No vitamin c a b or omega 3 get thru food instead. Glutamine in powder form good for neuropathy. Pharmacist can Dvise on homeopathic...

27-359 in reply to Ruebacelle

That's a shame. I take all those!


Newbie_2020 in reply to 27-359

I take them, too :-)

Hi, when I started this journey in February I asked if I should take any supplements, and was told by my OC team not to take anything as the ingredients could react to the chemo drugs.

Hope this helps

Good Luck


One of the purposes of chemo is to reduce the red blood cells but not too much. You still need to live! This is why blood tests are done. Anything that affects the blood like Omega 3 should be eliminated until after the treatment. Supplements that build up immune systems will probably fight the chemo you get and that is not wanted. Always ask your Onco for advice and always tell them if you will follow or ignore their advice in part or in whole.

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