As a bariatric patient, your body could be lacking several essential vitamins and minerals without even realizing it. So, whether you’re planning to undergo bariatric surgery or not, keeping track of the vitamin levels in your body is something that shouldn’t be neglected.
If you’ve already gone through one or more bariatric procedures, you are at increased risk for many vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Typically, chewable vitamins are prescribed for 3-6 months after bariatric surgery. In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about multivitamins for bariatric patients!
Why Do Bariatric Surgery Patients Need to Take Vitamins?
Bariatric surgery causes weight loss by creating restriction of calorie intake, malabsorption of nutrients, or a mixture of both. You will be required to adhere to lifestyle changes, including changes to your eating habits. With restriction of food intake and possible malabsorption of nutrients, fueling your body with necessary vitamins and minerals will be almost impossible solely through food sources.
This can lead to several complications like anemia, organ failure, fatigue, and increased risk of infections. Some doctors even recommend starting a multivitamin before undergoing weight loss surgery.
Why, you may ask? Obesity itself can cause many vitamin and mineral deficiencies due to poor food choices. There’s a high chance that your body is already lacking in several vitamins and minerals even before surgery. It's important to catch these low levels or deficiencies before undergoing weight loss surgery to prevent serious complications in the future.
What Vitamins Do Bariatric Patients Take?
Here’s a full breakdown of some of the most important vitamins bariatric patients may be recommended throughout the weight loss journey:
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that your body requires for healthy bones, immune support, glucose metabolism, and Calcium absorption.
Vitamin D promotes the absorption of Calcium in the body, which is another common deficiency in bariatric patients. Together, these micronutrients protect you against osteoporosis as you get older.
Since Vitamin D and Calcium go hand in hand, up to 100% of bariatric patients are at high risk for Calcium deficiency after weight loss surgery.
The body needs Calcium in order to maintain healthy bones and teeth. Calcium allows proper movement of your muscles and is super important for the health of your nervous system.
After a bariatric procedure, malabsorption and new dietary habits can quickly cause Calcium deficiency. Although Calcium can be found in many food sources, like dairy products and green leafy vegetables, supplements are heavily encouraged after bariatric surgery.
There's around a 20% chance of Vitamin B12 deficiency 2-5 years out from bariatric surgery.
Vitamin B12 is essential for proper maintenance of the nervous system, red blood cell formation, and production of DNA. Vitamin B12 deficiency can result in a form of nutritional anemia that can make you feel tired and weak.
Many gastric bypass patients suffer from a lack of Vitamin B12 because some procedures affect the way the stomach absorbs the vitamin. A daily dose of 350-1000mcg is recommended for most bariatric patients.
Vitamin C is naturally present in most foods, like citrus fruit and most vegetables. When needed, there are Vitamin C supplements available.
Vitamin C has many important roles in the body, including promoting the absorption of Iron, another deficiency that can be seen in bariatric patients.
Vitamin C has antioxidant properties, which can provide protection against inflammation and damage to your cells. Moreover, Vitamin C encourages the production of collagen protein that forms connective tissues in your ligaments and skin.
Iron deficiency can happen at any time after bariatric surgery and the percentage of occurrence can depend on the bariatric procedure performed.
Iron is needed for growth and development. Your body also utilizes Iron to make red blood cells.
A lack of iron puts you at risk of developing anemia, a condition where the body can lack red blood cells making you feel tired and weak. To prevent deficiency, bariatric guidelines recommend 45-60mg of Iron daily for most bariatric patients.
Best Bariatric-Friendly Vitamin Chews and Corrective Supplements
Choosing the right supplements primarily depends on your individual needs. For example, even when consistently taking a multivitamin, some individuals will deal with low Iron levels after weight loss surgery. In this case, you would not take more of your multivitamin, but instead be recommended to take a specific Iron supplement like flavored bariatric iron soft chews with Vitamin C in addition to your multivitamin.
On the other hand, if you have a calcium deficiency, you can get one of these bariatric calcium citrate soft chews to correct blood levels.
The supplements listed above are considered "corrective" supplements. A multivitamin is used to be preventative, but when a deficiency occurs, a corrective supplement should be used in addition to your multivitamin. Other corrective supplements may include Vitamin B1, B50, and Zinc plus Copper.
Consider Taking a Chewable Multivitamin
Initially following bariatric surgery, you will likely be recommended a bariatric specific chewable multivitamin. Chewable vitamins are well absorbed, tolerated, and help during the healing process. A chewable multivitamin can provide the vitamins and minerals your body needs after weight loss surgery.
It can be intimidating being told to take a multivitamin for life. Most bariatric supplements on the market require multiple supplements throughout the day. So, what if you could get all of the vitamins and minerals you need in one product?
Bariatric Fusion Complete Chewable Multivitamin is a great option for bariatric patients looking for great taste, affordability, and an easy daily regimen. By taking 2-4 chewable tablets per day depending on the procedure you had and recommendations made by your healthcare provider, this product can likely provide everything you need.
What Else Do You Need?
Bariatric surgery is just the beginning of the journey. As a bariatric patient, vitamins and minerals are not your only
concern. Bariatric procedures require you to make some substantial changes to your lifestyle.
Protein intake is another important aspect to consider after surgery. Protein is important in maintaining muscle mass, promoting metabolism, and assisting in the healing process. It can be very difficult meeting your daily protein goals after surgery, so you may want to consider a high protein meal replacement.
You might also want to consider taking bariatric probiotics to replenish good bacteria that can be diminished after bariatric surgery. The good bacteria in your GI tract can promote weight loss, absorption of nutrients, and even regulate bowel function. For more information on probiotics, you can check out this article.
Why Do Bariatric Patients Need to Take Vitamins in Chewable Form?
Bariatric vitamins can be found in many different forms from chewables to capsules. Chewable and liquid forms of vitamins and minerals are recommended as they may be better absorbed initially following weight loss surgery. Bariatric surgery can affect the absorption of nutrients from food sources, resulting in the need for supplements. Chewable vitamins can be easier to absorb, better tolerated, and more suitable during the healing process.
Can You Take Over-The-Counter Multivitamins After Surgery?
No, over-the-counter multivitamins are not recommended after bariatric surgery. If taking a regular multivitamin, you would have to take additional supplements due to the fact that these products do not contain the high levels of vitamins and minerals required and also offer different forms of vitamins that may not meet bariatric absorption needs. This would end up being more expensive and would put you at a higher risk of deficiency.
Before you buy a multivitamin, make sure you consult with your healthcare provider to ensure you are receiving the supplements that you need.
What Happens If You Don't Take Vitamins After Bariatric Surgery?
Ignoring essential vitamins and minerals after bariatric surgery may potentially result in severe conditions in the future.
Regular blood work is recommended to prevent any untreated deficiencies. Following up with your healthcare provider regarding necessary supplements to take after surgery is required.
Can Anyone Take Bariatric Multivitamins?
If you are looking to start a new supplement, it is always recommended to consult with your healthcare provider. Bariatric multivitamins provide vitamins and minerals in dosages above the recommended daily allowances in order to compensate for malabsorption after bariatric surgery.
The high levels of some vitamins and minerals are unnecessary for the average individual and may cause potential harm. Consult with your provider before starting a dietary supplement.
Can Bariatric Patients Take Gummy Vitamins?
Gummy vitamins that can be found at your local grocery store usually do not contain the proper amount of vitamins and minerals required after bariatric surgery. Gummy vitamins are also not suggested as the first ingredient is usually sugar. If you are looking for something similar, you could try bariatric soft chew multivitamins that are a similar consistency to a starburst. However, they are formulated for bariatric patients so that they can be well absorbed and tolerated.
It is always recommended to reach out to your healthcare provider before starting a new supplement to ensure it meets your nutritional needs.
What Is the Recommended Dosage for Vitamins and Minerals That Bariatric Patients Need?
Here’s a list of some vitamins and minerals that are commonly recommended to bariatric patients due to high risk of deficiency:
- Iron: 45-60mg elemental Iron for gastric bypass, sleeve, and duodenal switch
- Folic acid: 400-800mcg daily
- Copper: 2mg for duodenal switch and gastric bypass; 1mg for sleeve and gastric band
- Vitamin D: 3000IU daily (aka 75mcg)
- Calcium: 1200-1500mg for sleeve, gastric bypass and gastric band; 1800-2400mg for duodenal switch
- Vitamin B12: 350-1000mcg in the form of oral tablet, sublingual or liquid
- Thiamin: 50-100mg
- Zinc: 16-22mg for duodenal switch; 8-22mg for gastric bypass; 8-11mg for sleeve and gastric band
**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.