Getting the nutrients your body needs isn’t always easy, especially when certain treatments, such as chemotherapy, may make food less desirable. Many people consider taking vitamins and supplements to ensure optimal health, but, according to Dana-Farber nutritionist Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, it is important to think about the benefits of “food first.”
Eating a plant-based diet can also increase your intake of health-promoting nutrients, such as phytonutrients, which are associated with foods such as blueberries, carrots, tomatoes, and other colorful fruits and vegetables. Many of these phytonutrients come in pill form, but the way your body processes supplements may be different from the way it would process natural foods. Some high-dose antioxidant pills can even reduce the effectiveness of cancer treatment, so it is important to discuss vitamins and supplements with your physician or dietitian.
While some supplements may be necessary, for example, if you have a magnesium or vitamin D deficiency, it is easier than you may think to get vitamins and nutrients through food.