Childhood Cancer

Childhood Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors

Commercial nutritional supplements

Many children cannot tolerate solid food or can only eat small amounts each day. Liquid supplements can help provide the necessary calories. The following is a sampling of the variety of supplements that can be purchased at pharmacies or grocery stores. If you are unable to locate a particular brand, your pharmacist may be able to order it for you:

  • Sustacal®. Lactose-free liquid. Flavors are chocolate, vanilla, eggnog, and strawberry. It also comes in a high-protein or extra-fiber formula. (Mead Johnson)
  • Sustacal Pudding®. Sustacal® in pudding form. Flavors are chocolate, vanilla, and butterscotch. (Mead Johnson)
  • Sustacal HC®. Concentrated liquid. Flavors are vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and eggnog. (Mead Johnson)
  • Ensure®. Lactose-free liquid. Flavors are chocolate, vanilla, black walnut, coffee, butter pecan, banana, and strawberry. Other formulas have high protein or extra fiber. (Ross Laboratories)
  • Ensure Plus®. Concentrated liquid. (Ross Laboratories)
  • Isocal®. Lactose-free, vanilla-flavored liquid. (Mead Johnson)
  • Enrich®. Lactose-free liquid with fiber. (Ross Laboratories)
  • Instant Breakfast®. Powder that is added to milk. Variety of flavors. (Carnation)
  • Citrotein®. Orange-flavored powder that is added to water or juice. (Doyle Pharmaceutical)
  • Polycose®. Liquid or powder. Powder is added to milk, juice, gravy, or soups. Adds carbohydrates for extra calories. One tablespoon adds 30 calories. (Ross Laboratries)
  • Myoplex® Nutrition Shake. A liquid that is added to water and a little ice and mixed in a blender. Flavors include orange, piña colada, banana cream pie, chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla. (EAS, Inc.)
  • Boost Kids Essential®. High in calcium and formulated for kids ages 1 to 10. Flavors are chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla. (Nestle)
  • Nutren Junior®. Vanilla-flavored liquid formulated for children ages 1 to 10 who need nutritional support. It comes with or without added fiber. It is 50 percent whey and 50 percent casein. (Nestle)
  • Kindercal®. Lactose-free liquid in vanilla and chocolate flavors. Formulated for children. (Mead Johnson)

We tried all the high-calorie drinks: Pediasure® in three flavors, Boost®, and Scandi-shake®. The one that Emily would drink is called Nutrashake® (tastes like melted ice cream and can also be eaten frozen). Of course Pediasure® and Boost® are available over the counter. We had to get Scandi-shake® (a powder that you mix with milk) at the hospital. I had to do some research to obtain the Nutrashake®. It comes frozen, and Kroger grocery stores carry it. Since there were no Kroger stores near us, I finally found an outfit called American Medical Supply that would ship it.


The home health agency I worked for did a study on the nutritional content of Ensure®, Sustacal®, and Carnation Instant Breakfast®. All were basically the same, with Carnation® being much more palatable. The other two have a bit of a medicinal smell and taste to them. You can add calories by throwing it in a blender with ice cream, bananas, or strawberries. My other two non-cancer kids loved this stuff. Mandy would “sip” a tiny bit but would rather eat the spicy food: bologna, Polish sausage, or tomatoes drowning in Catalina dressing. Reese’s® peanut butter cups were breakfast for a long time (7 grams of protein!).