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.

Read our tips for getting more calories and protein into your diet

Read our tips

Vitamin and mineral supplements

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.

If you think nutritional supplements might help

If you think nutritional supplements might help, speak to your doctor, nurse or dietitian.

You can also speak to our specialist nurses on our free Support Line with any questions about supplements or managing your diet.

Speak to our nurses
Specialist nurse Dianne

Updated January 2020

Review date January 2023