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.
What's in the 'Diet and pancreatic cancer' information section?
- Diet and pancreatic cancer
- How does pancreatic cancer affect digestion and nutrition?
- What symptoms are caused by problems with diet and digestion?
- What is a dietitian?
- Pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT)
- How do I take pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy?
- What if pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy doesn’t help my symptoms?
- Nutritional supplements for pancreatic cancer
- Coping with the emotional effects of diet symptoms
- Tips for eating well and dealing with digestion problems
If you are losing weight or struggling to eat, your dietitian will suggest some changes that you can make to get more calories (energy) and protein in your diet. If changes to your diet don’t help, you may be given nutritional supplements. These can help you get all the calories and nutrients you need.
There are different types of nutritional supplements. Some are milk based, some are similar to juices, smoothies, puddings, or soups. They can be savoury or sweet. Try different supplements to find one you like. Your dietitian can explain how to take them.
You will still need to take pancreatic enzymes (PERT) with nutritional supplements. Speak to your dietitian about what dose to take.
Vitamin and mineral supplements
If you are not digesting your food properly, you may not be getting enough vitamins and minerals. Ask your doctor or dietitian if vitamin and mineral supplements would help, and how to take them.
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.
Vitamin and mineral supplements are often absorbed better if you take them with a meal. If you are taking any supplements that contain oil (like cod liver oil), take PERT with these.
Questions to ask your doctor, nurse or dietitian
- How should I take supplements?
- Can I take them if I have a vegetarian, vegan or other special diet? Are there other options?
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.
Updated March 2023
Review date March 2025