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Nutritional supplements for pancreatic cancer

Some people with pancreatic cancer may find it helpful to take nutritional supplements. These can help make sure you are getting all the calories (energy) and nutrients that you need. Nutritional supplements can be helpful for people who have lost their appetite or are losing weight.

If you are losing weight or struggling to eat, your dietitian will suggest some changes that you can make to your diet to get more calories and protein. If changes to your diet don’t help, you may be given nutritional supplements. These are drinks or powders that can help you get extra calories, protein, vitamins and minerals in your diet.

You will still need to take pancreatic enzymes with nutritional supplements – speak to your dietitian about what dose to take.

There are different types of nutritional supplements. Some are milk-based, some are similar to juices, yoghurts, or soups, and they can be savoury or sweet. Try different supplements to find one you like. Your dietitian can explain how to take them.

Vitamin and mineral supplements for pancreatic cancer

If you are not digesting your food properly, you may not be getting enough vitamins and minerals. Speak to your doctor or dietitian about whether vitamin and mineral supplements would be helpful.

Don’t take very high doses of these supplements and don’t start any vitamin and mineral supplements without talking to your doctor first. This is because they can affect the way some medicines work.

If you are taking pancreatic enzymes, you will normally take these and the supplement at the same time, together with a meal or snack. You should always follow the instructions from your doctor or on the supplement packet. Make sure you ask your doctor if you are unsure how to take them.  

Find more information on diet and pancreatic cancer

Find out why pancreatic cancer cause problems with digestion?

Read about how to manage your symptoms with pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy

Read more about pancreatic cancer and managing diabetes

Read about managing your diet if you can have surgery to remove the cancer

Read about managing your diet if you can’t have surgery to remove the cancer  

Find out more on coping with diet symptoms

Read our diet tips for pancreatic cancer

Updated January 2020

Review date January 2023

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