What are dietary supplements?

Dietary supplements are products that are meant to be taken in addition to your regular diet, as the name suggests. They come in a variety of forms, including tablets, powders, and liquids. They contain substances that can also be found in foods, such as vitamins and minerals, but in larger concentrations and generally at a higher dose. A nutritional supplement could be an animal product, such as fish oil, or it could be manufactured from plants like St. John’s wort (hypericum) or garlic.

Dietary supplements are available over-the-counter, which means you don’t need to visit a pharmacy to purchase them. They could potentially be used as part of (additional) medical treatment.

The following substances can be found in dietary supplements:

• Minerals and trace elements (such as vitamin C, vitamin E, folic acid, and beta-carotene).

• Vitamins and pro-vitamins (such as vitamin C, vitamin E, folic acid, and beta-carotene) (such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc).

• Compounds that are similar to vitamins (such as coenzyme Q10).

• Omega-3 fatty acids (such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids).

• Protein constituents (such as L-cysteine and L-carnitine).

• Carbohydrate sources (such as the fiber oligofructose).

• Additions such as brewer’s yeast, algae, and probiotics.

When you take dietary supplements, your body can absorb a lot more of these nutrients than if you just ate a regular meal.

What are free radicals, and how do they contribute to the development of cancer?

Free radicals are extremely reactive molecules that can cause cell damage. When an atom or a molecule (a compound with two or more atoms) receives or loses an electron, they form a small negatively charged particle found in atoms. Free radicals are produced naturally in the body and are involved in a variety of typical cellular functions. Free radicals, on the other hand, can be harmful to the body in excessive concentrations, causing damage to all major components of cells, including DNA, proteins, and cell membranes. Free radical damage to cells, particularly DNA damage, may play a role in the development of cancer and other health problems.

Exposure to ionizing radiation and other environmental pollutants can result in abnormally high levels of free radicals in the body. An electron may be lost when ionizing radiation strikes an atom or molecule in a cell, resulting in the production of a free radical. The process by which ionizing radiation destroys cells is by the generation of unusually large quantities of free radicals. Furthermore, some environmental hazards, such as cigarette smoke, some metals, and high-oxygen environments, may contain huge numbers of free radicals or drive the body’s cells to make more of them.

The most prevalent type of free radical produced in live tissue is oxygen-containing free radicals. They’re also known as “reactive oxygen species,” or “ROS”.

What are antioxidants, and what do they do?

Antioxidants are substances that interact with free radicals and neutralize them, keeping them from harming. Free radical scavengers are another name for antioxidants.

Antioxidants are produced by the body and are used to neutralize free radicals. Endogenous antioxidants are the antioxidants that occur naturally in the body. The body, on the other hand, obtains the balance of the antioxidants it requires from external (exogenous) sources, chiefly the diet. Dietary antioxidants are the term for these exogenous antioxidants. Antioxidants can be found in abundance in fruits, vegetables, and grains. Supplements containing dietary antioxidants are also available.

Beta-carotene, lycopene, and vitamins A, C, and E are examples of dietary antioxidants (alpha-tocopherol). Although the mineral selenium is frequently assumed to be a dietary antioxidant, its antioxidant benefits are more likely owing to the antioxidant activity of proteins that contain this element as an essential component (i.e., selenium-containing proteins), rather than selenium itself.

The following are some examples of frequent dietary antioxidants:

1.Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant (ascorbate).

2.Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant.

3.Flavonoids are a type of antioxidant (e.g., soy isoflavones, green tea catechins).



Many anticancer drugs produce reactive oxygen species, which reduce antioxidant levels, damage deoxyribonucleic acid, and trigger cancer cell death. Many cancer patients take antioxidants in the hopes of protecting and repairing healthy cells that have been harmed by cancer treatment. Many antioxidant supplements have insufficient data to evaluate if they are safe and beneficial as a supplemental therapy to regular cancer treatment.

The Importance of Dietary Supplements in Cancer Treatment

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a lipid-soluble antioxidant. Plants are the only ones who can make it naturally, and it comes in a variety of forms with differing amounts. Vitamin E is mostly found in edible polyunsaturated vegetable oils. Vitamin E is the most critical nutrient for preventing the peroxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids. The most popular form of vitamin E supplement is -tocopherol, however, vitamin E succinate is also utilized.

Because of its involvement in avoiding lipid peroxidation, vitamin E may prove to be a significant supplement for boosting antineoplastic action. This characteristic allows cancer cells to proliferate quickly, which is necessary for chemotherapy while avoiding harm to normal cells and improving immune function. According to some research, vitamin E has a synergistic effect with chemotherapy and radiation in cancer cells.

Because it has been found to relieve pain, prolong survival when combined with polyunsaturated fatty acids, minimize fibrosis from radiation treatment, and decrease oral mucositis linked with chemotherapy, vitamin E may be effective in the management of cancer patients treatment. Although vitamin E was found to lessen the cardiotoxicity of doxorubicin, it had no other significant effects. Vitamin E was found to be effective and well-tolerated in the treatment of oral leukoplakia. Chemotherapy-induced stomatitis heals faster with intensive topical vitamin E treatment.

When contemplating the usage of supplemental vitamin E, it’s important to keep in mind that vitamin E can function as a prooxidant in cigarette smokers, especially if they eat a diet high in (n-6) fatty acids. Furthermore, large quantities of vitamin E, acting as a prooxidant, were demonstrated to directly suppress human prostate tumor growth by inducing tumor cell apoptosis without damaging adjacent tissues. Vitamin E has been found to promote cell death in colorectal cancer cells and to increase the growth inhibition of these cells by 5-fluorouracil, suggesting that it might be used as adjuvant therapy for colorectal cancer.

Vitamin C 

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that is a water-soluble vitamin. It may be found in many fresh fruits and vegetables. It is commonly taken by cancer patients, although it is unknown whether it has any effect on standard treatment. Based on the form, amount, and time of supplementation, as well as the cancer location and kind of treatment, limited preclinical research suggests that vitamin C may either accelerate or inhibit tumor development.


Although selenium is not an antioxidant in and of itself, it is integrated into selenoproteins in cells, some of which have antioxidant properties. Glutathione peroxidase is the best-known antioxidant selenoprotein. Selenium may be found in several foods, including cereals, vegetables, and shellfish. A selenium-enriched brewer’s yeast supplement is the highest source of selenium in a supplement.

Selenium supplementation may help chemotherapy drugs work more effectively. As a result, there is a lot of interest in selenium as a cancer preventive agent in a lot of places. The proposed mechanism is that selenium serves as a scavenger for products of oxidation processes generated by conventional treatments (through glutathione peroxidase activity). Furthermore, selenium supplementation has been shown to promote tumor cell death.

The emergence of drug resistance is a primary cause of chemotherapy failure, especially in ovarian cancer. The focus of research has been on reversing drug resistance and the alternate strategy of preventing resistance from developing. In human ovarian tumor xenografts, selenium compounds were shown to inhibit the induction of treatment resistance by cisplatin.

Supplementing with selenium protects individuals who are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation.

Vitamin D-3

Yellow fish oil pills

Vitamin D-3 is a hormone that is generated in the skin as a result of sunshine exposure. Vitamin D supplements include the physiologically inert vitamins D-2 (calciferol; plant origin) and D-3 (animal origin), both of which must be converted to the active form 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D. Until it is converted to 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D-3, vitamin D-3 is mostly inert physiologically. This active form has been proven to inhibit the growth of cancers of many sources, including breast cancer cells, in addition to playing a key function in bone and calcium metabolism.

Increased dietary calcium and vitamin D may have a role in the chemoprevention of colon and breast cancer. A major disadvantage of clinical use in cancer therapy is the requirement for large doses of dihydroxy vitamin D-3, which can lead to hypercalcemia and mortality. Synthesis of analogs of hydroxyvitamin D-3 that exhibit antiproliferative and pro-differentiation actions against cancer cells without causing hypercalcemia has been a significant focus of chemoprevention research. The outcome is a novel class of synthetic vitamin D-3 analogs that are effective cancer cell growth inhibitors.