Food is the best source of nutrients. If you choose to take supplements, be sure to choose supplements with appropriate amounts of vitamins, minerals, or other chemicals. And actually, there isn’t any proof that taking many of the supplements below will prevent cancer.
Multiple vitamin and mineral supplements
If you avoid specific groups of foods, such as dairy products, including milk/cheese/yogurt or fruits and vegetables, you may need to take a multiple vitamin/mineral supplement in order to get some of the nutrients these foods supply. A multiple vitamin/mineral supplement also includes vitamin D. Look for a supplement with 100 percent of the daily value for most of the vitamins and minerals.
The role of selenium supplements in reducing the risk of cancer is not clear. One study showed that only people with low blood selenium levels benefited from taking selenium supplements. Other studies have suggested a potential increased risk of some types of cancer for people taking selenium supplements. Based on current knowledge, the best source of selenium is food. Foods rich in selenium include Brazil nuts, wheat germ, bran, brown rice, whole wheat bread, barley, onions, garlic, turnips, soybeans, mushrooms, fish, and eggs.
Studies of the role of vitamin E in cancer prevention have reached various conclusions.
Some showed that vitamin E had no effect; others showed a positive effect or a positive effect only for former smokers. The amounts of vitamin E given to participants in these studies were 50 mg. or less. Another study found a 10-15% increased risk of prostate cancer when participants took vitamin E supplements. Until more is known regarding the role of vitamin E supplementation in cancer, focus on consuming foods rich in vitamin E. These foods include nuts (such as almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts), vegetable oils (olive and canola), seeds, wheat germ and whole-grain products, and spinach and other dark, green leafy vegetables.
Lycopene is a phytochemical (phyto means plant in Greek) that has shown, in preliminary testing, to have cancer prevention properties for some types of cancer, particularly prostate cancer. However, the safety of lycopene supplements in cancer has not been tested. Lycopene supplements are also fairly expensive. It’s better to consume lycopene-rich foods as part of a diet high in fruits and vegetables. Tomatoes and tomato products (such as tomato sauce, tomato juice, tomato paste, salsa, tomato soup, and marinara sauce) are major sources of lycopenes. Watermelon, pink grapefruit, papaya, and apricots also contain lycopenes.
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