Vitamins, and Minerals as Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Cancer and Disease


In various shapes, forms and preparations, vitamins and minerals have been used for thousands of years and by different cultures and civilizations in the fight against diseases, cancers, and the promotion of vitality and long life.

“Modern” medicine has begun to recognize the need to evaluate herbs, vitamins, and minerals in terms of their potential value and benefit to all types of patients.


In the vitamin arsenal, it’s Vitamin C that is on top. Vitamin C boosts our immune system, and increases our ability to destroy “foreign” bodies, chemicals, and debris. The active form of Vitamin C, ascorbate, helps prevent formation of cancer-causing chemicals known as N-nitrosoamines, commonly found in cured and smoked meats, drinking water, and cigarette smoke. They are also sprayed on our pre-cut vegetables, and become part of produce grown on farm soils heavily fertilized with nitrogen-based fertilizers.

The immune system plays such a key role in cancer that a person with cancer is considered to have a weakened immune system because it was not capable of removing the foreign substance that caused the cancer. If you decide to take Vitamin C as part of either a cancer-preventive or cancer therapy, most protocols will recommend large doses (“mega dose” therapy), which may not agree with your body. The acerola cherry is the most concentrated source of Vitamin C, followed by red chili peppers, guavas, red sweet peppers, kale, and parsley. Collard greens, turnip greens, green peppers, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts follow close behind. Be sure to seek the advice of your doctor before you make your decisions.

Beta-carotene, the precursor to Vitamin A, is another antioxidant with cancer fighting properties, preventing excessive free radical damage – allowing cells to utilize oxygen more efficiently. Vitamin A and beta-carotene are known to be helpful in preventing prostate, cervical, lung, stomach and oral cancers. Vitamin E, also known as alpha-tocopherol, has been effective in decreasing the overall cancer risk in non-smokers. Our top sources of Vitamin E are sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, and asparagus.

Also, the group of B-vitamins, including pantothenic acid, may be critically low in patients susceptible or diagnosed with cancer. Rather than spend extra time and money deciding on which individual B-supplements to take, a general B-group multivitamin with pantothenic acid is the better choice. This group of vitamins works together with your body’s enzymes and minerals to provide the cells with maximum energy and nutrients.


Selenium is a mineral that plays a key role with an enzyme called glutathione peroxidase, one of our body’s most powerful antioxidants. High levels of glutathione peroxidase have lowered the risk of breast, colon, gastric, and rectal cancers. Oranges, grapes, radishes, almonds, onions, and cabbage are good sources for selenium. Along with zinc, potassium, and other micro-minerals that participate as co-factors to bodily processes, we can help improve our chances for preventing cancer and perhaps, fighting its devastating effects on our bodies.

A strong note of caution regarding the use of herbal, vitamin, and mineral supplements, and nutritional supplements in general: It is imperative you discuss any questions or considerations about supplements with your doctor before you take any over-the-counter substances. Many of the common supplements have important, and possibly deadly interactions with some medications, and may affect you directly. Also, remember the Food and Drug Administration does not supervise the dietary supplement market in the United States, and the quality and contents of these substances varies widely between manufacturers. Many supplements are manufactured outside of the United States, where no quality control supervision exists.

The American Cancer Society
The National Cancer Institutes Office of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine
The National Institutes of Health National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
The Entirely On-Line Alt-Med Primer

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