**A continuation of our series on breast cancer and nutrition.

Many breast cancer patients assume they will need to take supplements to boost their nutrition during treatment, says Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center nutritionist Mary Eve Brown, and many people think that adding nutritional supplements to their diet will reduce their chances of getting cancer. However, no supplement has been proven to prevent cancer. But in most cases, a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods is the best way to ensure you’re getting the right nutrition, she says.

It’s important to note that supplements are not always safe when taken in combination with other drugs, and that they have side effects of their own that may put you at risk. Brown urges you to share everything you are taking with your health care team, whether supplements, prescriptions or over-the-counter drugs to find out whether they all fit into your treatment program.

Two important nutrients to check on in your diet are calcium and Vitamin D. Brown reccomends getting 3 servings of high calcium foods daily, such as milk, yogurt, cheese or leafy greens. For men who are between ages 19 and 70, that comes to 1000mg per day, increasing to 1200 mg per day for men over 71. For women age 19 to 50, your three servings should include 1000mg per day, increasing to 1200 mg earlier, at age 51 and older. If you’re not getting the recommended amount, you may want to talk to your health care team about taking a supplement. Calcium citrate is very easily digested, Brown notes.

Your physician can check the level of Vitamin D in your blood. Brown notes that, even with adequate Vitamin D in your diet, you still may benefit from a supplement if the test shows that you are deficient. Certain cancers are linked to Vitamin D deficiency, so this is an important issue to discuss with your doctor.

You can find out more about nutrition and your breast cancer journey in Brown’s recent free webinar, What’s Food Got to Do With It? Eating Well Before, During and After Treatment.

Videos from Mary Eve Brown:
Colon Cancer and Nutrition

Pancreatic Cancer and Nutrition

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