Vitamins after Bariatric Surgery: When , What, Why?

vitamins after bariatric surgery
Vitamin B1, B12, Iron, Calcium, and Vitamin D are the most important essentials that bariatric patients need to avoid post-op malnutrition and deficiency-related complications.
When your body is missing critical vitamins and minerals it can alter your mood, affect focus and energy levels, as well as cause deficiency-related diseases. Obtaining enough of the necessary vitamins and nutrients the body needs is hard enough for an average person, and is challenging for bariatric surgery patients.

Why Do Bariatric Surgery Patients Have to Take Vitamins?

Bariatric surgery changes the size of the stomach causing individuals to eat less, and since some techniques alter the digestive system, nutrients from foods that are ingested cannot thoroughly be absorbed. This decrease in absorption means that many vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients critically needed by the body are not being captured.

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What Happens if You Don’t Take Vitamins after Gastric Sleeve or Other Weight Loss Surgery?

The main objective of bariatric surgery is to improve one’s health, which will require proper nutrition. Proper nutrition involves providing the body with the nutrients it needs to function properly. Some can be obtained through meals, and others will have to be supplemented.

Usually, the doctor or weight loss clinic will monitor your nutrient levels as well as set up a schedule and dosage lineup of vitamins and supplements for you to take. Your vitamin regime must be taken seriously and strictly followed to avoid malnutrition and deficiency-related complications.

What Is the Most Important Nutrient after Bariatric Surgery?

There are three very important components in proper nutrition after bariatric surgery:

  • Macronutrients are proteins, carbs, and fats that will be tracked using daily goals or limits.
  • Micronutrients: this is a big word that means vitamins and minerals, but unlike proteins, carbs, and fat, your body only needs a small amount of vitamins and minerals. Macro is a prefix that means “large” and micro is a prefix that means “small”. Do not be confused, however, thinking that because the body only needs a SMALL amount, those micronutrients are unimportant because a deficiency can cause BIG problems.
  • Water: after weight loss surgery, it is very important you remain hydrated because dehydration is the reason bariatric surgery patients most often re-enter the hospital. You will be tracking your daily liquid intake to ensure you are getting the recommended amount. Most bariatric doctors recommend carrying around a 64-oz container of water and sipping on it throughout the day, except for 30 minutes before and after meals.

What Vitamins & Micronutrients Are Deficient after Bariatric Surgery?

The short answer to this is your body may become deficient in any vitamin or nutrient that you do not provide through a supplement after bariatric surgery. Let’s look at what vitamins and minerals you need to keep your body healthy as this will provide you a benchmark of what to look for when choosing supplements.

Vitamins B for Bariatric Patients

Vitamin B1 (or thiamin) helps turn food into energy and aids in growing healthy hair, skin, and the health of your liver. A thiamin deficiency will cause fatigue, fitful sleep, irritability, and abdominal discomfort.

Vitamin B12 is instrumental in the creation of new red blood cells and helps keep the nervous system functioning properly. B12 deficiencies can be asymptomatic but eventually lead to overall weakness, lightheadedness, the feeling of pins and needles, heart palpitations, vision changes, and more.

Micronutrients for Bariatric Patients

Iron is essential for our growth and development and is used to make hemoglobin which is a protein found in red blood cells. This protein transports oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body. Iron is used by our bodies to manufacture certain hormones and has a plethora of other important functions.

In the United States, a deficiency in iron is an astonishingly common condition within the general public and more so among patients who have had bariatric surgery. An iron deficiency can begin with dizziness, general fatigue, feeling light-headed, a rapid heart rate or palpitations, brittle nails, and more. A chronic deficiency in iron will eventually lead to anemia which can cause even more severe complications and possibly even death.

Calcium and Vitamin D can both be derived from dairy products. A calcium deficiency can cause memory loss, confusion, muscle spasms or numbness, and tingling. A good source of Vitamin D is 15 (safe) minutes in the sun each day. Vitamin D helps keep our bones strong and healthy and increases the absorption rate of vitamin C. Vitamin D deficiency signs can cause muscle weakness and bone pain.

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List of Essentials for Bariatric Patients

Usually, bariatric surgery patients start with chewable tablets and then if tolerated, move to orally taken supplements. Special bariatric multivitamins help cut down on the number of pills you have to take. The vitamins you take should contain at least:

  • 18mg of iron;
  • 400 mcg of folic acid;
  • 3,000 IU of vitamin D;
  • 2mg of copper;
  • 12 mg of thiamin;
  • 200% for most, if not all, of the vitamins and minerals listed on the label of the daily recommended dose;
  • 500 mcg per day of vitamin B12 (cobalamin or methylcobalamin). B-12 that dissolves in the mouth and chewable tablets are the most commonly used;
  • 1500 mg per day calcium citrate. Normally taken in 500 mg doses 3 times a day. Calcium needs to be taken separately from iron because it inhibits iron absorption. It is recommended you take these two supplements at least two hours apart;
  • 18 mg per day of iron. Taking iron in tandem with vitamin c helps the absorption rate. Take at least 2 hours apart from calcium supplement.

Which Multivitamin Is Best for Bariatric Patients?

Vitamin supplements are needed by bariatric patients for the rest of their lives to ensure that their bodies are getting the 24+ micronutrients required to function properly. Some micronutrients are needed in only trace amounts and others such as B vitamins or minerals, such as calcium, are required in larger dosages.

Multivitamins are available today that are made specifically for bariatric patients and specially formulated to contain proper dosages of most key elements to minimize the number of supplements needed every day. It is recommended that you choose one that follows guidelines recommended by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS).

Do I Have to Take Vitamins Forever after Weight Loss Surgery?

After bariatric surgery, part of your daily routine for the rest of your life will be ensuring you consume your micronutrients. The doctor or nutritionist will work with you to determine the dosages you require and will make recommendations on how you can best obtain them.

Bariatric patients are fortunate today to have a wide range of products to choose from that offer solutions to many challenges facing weight loss surgery patients. Supplements are available in pill form, chewable form, drinkable form, and patch form. Using a combination of these can help patients reach their daily recommended dosages.

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Make Your Supplement Routine Easy

The easier it is for you to take these supplemental nutrients, the more likely you will stick to the routine and not let them lapse. Choosing supplements that work for you and staying on a schedule will result in success.

If you would like to learn more about bariatric supplements or bariatric weight loss procedures, please call IBI Healthcare Institute today to set up a consultation. Our team of experts is available to answer your questions and put a plan in place to help you reach your weight loss and overall health goals.

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