Which Vitamins Do I Really Need?
Taking on a new vitamin regimen after weight loss surgery may seem daunting, but the benefits far outweigh the minor hassle. The changes in the stomach and bypass of the small intestine make it more difficult for your body to receive vitamins naturally from food. Compound that with the decrease in portion size, and it is easy to see why it is more difficult to get the recommended daily amounts of vitamins and minerals as a post-op bariatric patient.
Vitamin deficiencies are a known complication for bariatric patients, but one that is largely preventable with supplementation. Neglecting to take vitamins can result in consequences from minor changes that may be hard to notice, to major complications like nerve issues, loss of vision, or even death. If you have specific questions about your vitamin levels or how to best supplement, we want you to call the office or let us know during Tuesday’s live support chat on Facebook.
Multivitamin, preferably a Bariatric Formulated One
We recommend most patients start their vitamin supplementation with a bariatric formulated multivitamin. While there may be several multivitamins available at the local grocery or drug store, most bariatric patients will find to achieve the appropriate levels recommended for a bariatric patient, they would need to add several additional supplements. Although bariatric multivitamins may be slightly more expensive, the convenience and tailored nature of these vitamins is helpful to ensure you are getting what you need. These vitamins are often taken more than once per day. While this may seem less convenient than a one-a-day option, these are typically easier for your body to absorb.
There are a few important notes on calcium. First, calcium should not be taken with or too soon before or after iron. This includes your multivitamin, if it contains iron. Second, the body cannot absorb the recommended daily value all at once. Calcium citrate is also preferable, as it does not require stomach acid to be absorbed by the body. This is especially valuable in bariatric patients as the amount of stomach acid is reduced when the stomach organ is lessened in size during surgery. Vitamin D should be taken in addition to calcium to aid in absorption. These can be found in combined form, or separate supplements. Either is fine, but the two should be taken together.
For those with a history of anemia, menstruating women, and those who have undergone a gastric bypass, additional iron may be recommended to prevent deficiency. The iron in your multivitamin may be sufficient, but we recommend you discuss your chosen supplement with your dietitian or surgeon along with your lab work to determine if additional iron is needed. Some patients find iron supplements cause constipation, but this can be remedied with a fiber supplement or non-stimulant stool softener.
B Vitamins are important for cell reproduction and nerve function. B12, Folic Acid, and other B Vitamins can become deficient following changes to the anatomy. B vitamins can often be taken sublingually, meaning a tablet that dissolves under the tongue for quick absorption. They can also be found in pill, chewable or liquid form. B Vitamins will help with energy levels and cell renewal.
Overall Rules for Vitamins
Following surgery, you will initially be on a liquid diet. Once you work your way up to a fuller diet, your vitamins should be introduced in a chewable or liquid form to help avoid stressing your new anatomy. If you think you are ready to transition to pills or capsule form, we can discuss if this is appropriate.
If you have a question about your supplements or are worried you may be deficient or not getting enough of a vitamin or mineral, please contact us.