Bariatric surgery results in restricted food intake, malabsorption of nutrients, or a combination of both. This increases the risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies when compared to the average individual.
If you have recently had one or more bariatric procedures, there’s a good chance that you were recommended bariatric specific supplements to prevent micronutrient deficiencies.
Initially following weight loss surgery, chewable or liquid vitamins are recommended for toleration, absorption and healing purposes. Multivitamin capsules are typically not an option for 6-8 months after surgery. However, every surgery center has their own guidelines and policies, so follow their instruction on supplementation.
A new alternative trend is to purchase vitamin patches that are applied directly to the skin.
How effective are they and should you really opt for them? That’s what we’re going to shed light on in this guide.
Why Bariatric Patients Need Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
After undergoing a bariatric procedure, such as gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, or gastric band, many patients often forget how smaller food portions affect the body. Restricting caloric intake can be challenging, making it harder for you to provide the body with nutrients it requires to stay healthy.
The good news is bariatric vitamin and mineral supplements are available to prevent common deficiencies after weight loss surgery. Here’s how bariatric surgery and adherence to specific supplements for life can positively affect your health:
Support Your Immune System
Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Iron, Zinc, and Vitamin A are all micronutrients that can naturally enhance immune response.
Bariatric multivitamin supplements typically contain all of these micronutrients in varying amounts. Consistently taking your multivitamin after bariatric surgery will compensate for where you may be lacking in your diet due to restriction and/or malabsorption caused by weight loss surgery.
Consistent intake of these vitamins found in you bariatric multivitamin can help to support your immune system.
Maintain Heart Health
Obesity can increase your risk of cardiovascular conditions. Bariatric surgery has been shown to decrease the risk of cardiac conditions by 50%.
By taking your bariatric multivitamin you are providing the body a number of vitamins and minerals that are required for maintaining heart health.
Maintain Energy Levels
A handful of micronutrient deficiencies, including copper, folic acid, iodine, iron, B-vitamins, vitamin A and zinc can all cause fatigue.
Initially following bariatric surgery, it is common to feel weak and tired because your caloric intake in restricted and surgery itself requires time to heal and rest. Staying consistent with your bariatric specific multivitamin can prevent those common deficiencies that may result in fatigue and other symptoms.
There are fancy supplements out there that claim they enhance energy levels, however, it is not recommended to take any additional supplements without consulting with your healthcare provider first.
Some dietary supplements can interact with medications and interfere with blood work. If you are feeling severely fatigued, reach out to your provider and get blood work done to ensure the issue is not related to a micronutrient deficiency.
Maintain Ligament and Skin Health
Weight loss surgery can relieve the significant stress that excess weight places on the joints, especially the hips, knees, and ankles.
You can continue supporting the health of your ligaments, bones, skin and hair by staying consistent with your bariatric multivitamin, consuming a variety of food sources in your diet and reaching daily protein goals.
Vitamin C can play a role in natural collagen production in the body. Collagen is a protein that forms connective tissues in your skin and ligaments. Collagen is also important for keeping your nails and hair healthy.
There are multiple articles regarding the benefits of collagen supplements in minimizing joint pain, hair loss, improving skin conditions and brittle nails, which are all common issues a bariatric patient may face during their weight loss journey.
Check out bariatric surgery benefits to learn more.
Tip: Do not take additional dietary supplements unless you are directed to do so by your practitioner. Consuming excess amounts of certain vitamins and minerals can be harmful if you were not directed to do so.
How Effective Are Vitamin and Mineral Patches After Bariatric Surgery?
Bariatric surgery patients are medically vulnerable, meaning there is a high risk for complications and deficiencies. That being said, taking the proper supplements for life are important in order to avoid any serious medical issues short-term or long-term.
A research study proved that gastric bypass patients who used a multivitamin patch for a year were more likely to be deficient in vitamin D, thiamin (B1) and vitamin B12.
There is not enough research available at this time to promote a multivitamin patch in the bariatric population. Especially after weight loss surgery, you should be very aware of what products you are using to ensure that you are getting all the required nutrients to promote good health.
Many practitioners recommend that bariatric patients stay away from multivitamin patches because if they don't work, the deficiencies can lead to severe consequences down the line.
How Transdermal Nutrient Absorption Works
Nutrient absorption through the skin works by penetration of the pores, where the nutrients find their way into the bloodstream. This mechanism may work for certain nutrients, like magnesium.
So, why doesn’t this work for other vitamins and minerals?
- The amount of vitamins and minerals required for a bariatric patient would not be able to fit in a small patch based off of current research.
- In order for the skin to absorb a nutrient, the molecular size must be smaller than the skins pores.
- Vitamin A, vitamin B12, and vitamin K have proven to be too large for the skin the absorb.
The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) nutritional guidelines recognize vitamin A and vitamin B12 as common bariatric deficiencies. A vitamin patch would not be able to provide adequate amounts of high risk micronutrients that are necessary for life after weight loss surgery.
At this time, it is not fully understood which other vitamins may or may not be absorbed by the skin. This is the number one reason why bariatric patients should not rely on multivitamin patches in order to prevent high risk vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Vitamin Patches Proven Ineffective After Bariatric Surgery
Bariatric Fusion has been helping Bariatric Patients for over 15 years and improving outcomes after weight loss surgery has always been our #1 priority. Every couple of years, a new product comes along that tries to create a shortcut towards patient success. We know that there are no shortcuts to success and that bariatric surgery is just the beginning. Bariatric Fusion creates products that taste great, are affordable, and easy to use to make a patient’s Bariatric Journey as easy as possible.
Bariatric vitamin patches are the most recent product that is trying to create shortcuts, but in reality, are creating vitamin deficiencies.
A recent study in The Journal of Metabolic Surgery and Allied Care concluded that "Multivitamin patch users are more likely to have vitamin D deficiency and lower serum concentration of various vitamins and minerals."
Please do your research when determining which bariatric nutritional supplement is right for you!
Vitamin Patch Alternatives
There are ASMBS recommended options to supplement vitamins and minerals after bariatric surgery.
Chewable vitamins are the most popular form of supplementation for bariatric patients. Not to mention, a chewable multivitamin is recommended initially following bariatric surgery for toleration, absorption and healing purposes.
You can try chewable multivitamins, like the Bariatric Multivitamin Mixed Berry Complete Chewable and the Orange Cream Chewable Multivitamins that were formulated by bariatric practitioners. Just make sure you are only taking supplements as directed by your healthcare provider. In some cases, taking more vitamins than you actually need will do more harm than good.
Soft Chewable Supplements
Gummy multivitamins are typically not recommended after bariatric surgery because the first ingredient is usually sugar, they may not be well tolerated, and there is little evidence that gummies can provide the required micronutrients.
Soft chew supplements are a different consistency when compared to gummy vitamins. However, they look and taste like a starburst, making them more appealing for life-long use. You can purchase soft chew supplements like Bariatric Iron, Bariatric Calcium, or even Bariatric Soft Chew Multivitamins.
Bariatric specific multivitamins are at the top of the list of importance after weight loss surgery. However, protein is also an important nutrient that may be lacking in your diet after bariatric surgery. Bariatric patients can consume protein powders to assist in reaching daily protein goals.
Are Vitamin Patches Safe for Bariatric Patients?
At this time, it is not fully understood how effective a vitamin patch is for a bariatric patient. Supplementation after bariatric surgery is not something to mess around with as it can have serious consequences for your overall health.
With the current research available, bariatric patients should not rely on multivitamin patches in order to prevent high risk vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
What Happens if You Don't Take Vitamins After Bariatric Surgery?
Restricting your body from the vitamins and minerals it requires will have severe consequences in the long run. Some deficiencies can take a couple years to surface and others can be seen within a couple of weeks. This is why it is essential to follow up with regular blood work in order to monitor levels.
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can cause complications like:
- Memory loss
- Vision problems
- Nervous system damage
- Compromised immunity
- Mental health conditions
Are Vitamin Patches Better Than Chewable Vitamins for Bariatric Patients?
A chewable multivitamin is recommended initially following bariatric surgery for absorption, toleration and healing purposes. Not only are chewable vitamins recommended, they are more effective than a multivitamin patch based on current research.
More information is needed on the mechanism and effectiveness of multivitamin patches for bariatric patients.
To sum it up, there is not enough clinical evidence to support weight loss surgery patients using bariatric vitamin patches. The molecular size of some vitamins and minerals may not be adequately absorbed by the skin.
There is no guarantee that bariatric vitamin patches would work after weight loss surgery. Micronutrient deficiency is a very serious matter and should not be taken lightly. Deficiencies that go unnoticed or untreated for a period of time can cause long-term consequences.
**This blog is for information and education purposes only. This information is not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions in regards to a medical condition. A qualified healthcare professional can best assist you in deciding whether a dietary supplement is suitable based on your individual needs.