Importance of Vitamins and Minerals After Bariatric Surgery
Most bariatric surgery patients are required to take vitamins and minerals after bariatric surgery. With everything else you have to do after surgery, such as getting enough protein and water, and being physically active, it can feel hard to add in another task such as taking vitamins every day or more than once a day. But it’s necessary.
Here is what you need to know about the importance of vitamins and minerals after bariatric surgery and why bariatric surgery patients need supplements. And, keep reading to learn the easiest ways to get the best vitamins for your needs. Be sure to ask your doctor before taking any dietary or nutritional supplements to make sure they’re the right ones for you.
Reasons for the Need to Take Bariatric Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
Why can’t you get your vitamins and minerals from foods? Don’t you eat food for nourishment? Well, yes, but bariatric surgery patients have additional challenges.
The goal is to eat healthy after weight loss surgery, but even if you follow your bariatric surgery diet guidelines perfectly, you’re still likely to need supplementation. Here are some reasons why.
- The variety of foods you eat may be reduced, so the variety of nutrients you consume on a daily basis may be lower.
- You may be avoiding entire food groups because of calories or carbs, but missing nutrients in them. For example whole grains and fortified grains have iron and B vitamins, but you may not be eating them regularly after weight loss surgery.
- You may have intolerances, which can make you avoid certain foods or food groups. For example, lactose intolerance can make you avoid dairy products, which can result in a lack of calcium and vitamin D. Or, you may be intolerant to meat and have trouble getting enough iron and B vitamins.
- You’re eating less overall. Bariatric surgery patients are on a low-calorie diet with small serving sizes. It’s hard to meet nutrient needs with that kind of eating pattern.
- Some bariatric surgery patients have decreased nutrient absorption due to a malabsorptive procedure, such as BPD-DS.
There’s also the fact that most bariatric surgery patients enter the procedure with one or more deficiencies, according to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS). That means you need to overcome the deficiency while you’re recovering from surgery and facing other barriers to getting enough nutrients.
These are some of the most critical nutrients after bariatric surgery and why they’re important.
The B vitamins include thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyrodixine (vitamin B6), folic acid, biotin, and vitamin B12. They have numerous functions in the body.*
- Proper metabolism and energy production from carbohydrates, fats, and protein in foods.
- Generation of healthy red blood cells.
- Supporting heart health.
They are in a variety of foods, but deficiency is common. For example, ASMBS says nearly ⅔ of weight loss surgery patients have a deficiency of folic acid. About 2 in 5 are deficient in vitamin B12, and up to half have thiamin deficiency.
Calcium and Vitamin D
Calcium and vitamin D work together and have a few different functions.* They’re both essential nutrients for bone health. Vitamin D allows calcium to be absorbed and used properly, and calcium is part of a strong bone mineral. These are some other functions.
- Calcium is needed for normal nerve and muscle function.
- Vitamin D supports a healthy immune system.
- Vitamin D is involved in heart and brain health.
The number of bariatric surgery patients with deficiency of calcium and/or vitamin D is shockingly high. In fact, ASBMS says, “prevalence of vitamin D deficiency is reported to occur in up to 100% of post-WLS patients.” That probably includes you!
It may not be surprising when you consider food sources of calcium and vitamin D. Calcium is in dairy products such as milk and yogurt, which aren’t easy on the stomach if you have lactose intolerance. Vitamin D is not in many foods naturally. The most common food source is fortified milk.
The BariatricPal Store makes it easy to get more calcium and vitamin D. You can find Vitamin D Chewables and QuickMelts in delightful flavors, and Softgels that are easy to swallow. We have Calcium and Vitamin D Capsules as well as delicious, sugar-free Chews.
Iron and Vitamin C
Iron deficiency is the most common deficiency worldwide, and bariatric surgery patients are also often deficient. The ASMBS says that about half of gastric bypass, BPD, and DS patients are deficient in iron.
Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron. Even if you don’t have a severe deficiency, it’s possible to be low in vitamin C due to its food sources. Vitamin C is in fresh fruits and vegetables, which can be hard to tolerate after bariatric surgery, and may be off the menu for the first few weeks post-op.
Roles of iron and vitamin C include these.*
- Forming healthy red blood cells that can properly deliver oxygen to cells in your body.
- Producing cartilage and collagen for healthy joints, skin, and hair.
- Supporting a normal immune response.
- Reducing damage to cells by compounds called free radicals.
Vitamins A, D, E, and K are the fat-soluble vitamins. That means your body can store them in your fat so you don’t need to get them every day from food, but it also means you may have more trouble getting them after weight loss surgery because they need fat so they can be properly digested and absorbed.
Some of their food sources include fortified milk, orange fruits and vegetables, oils, and leafy green vegetables.
They have numerous functions in the body.*
- Healthy skin and nails.
- Normal blood clotting and wound healing.
- Protect cells from damage from free radicals.
- Support a normal immune response.
- Promote normal bone health.
BariatricPal has a variety of combinations of these vitamins, including Vitamins A, D, E, and K capsules, Vitamin E Softgels, Vitamins A and D Softgels, and Vitamin A Softgels.
More Essential Minerals
There are even more essential nutrients! For example, chromium, selenium, copper, magnesium, and molybdenum are a few of them. Another, zinc is deficient in about one-quarter of pre-op WLS patients, and about three in four pre-op BPD-DS patients are low in zinc, according to the ASMBS. You should ask your doctor if you have concerns about these minerals. A bariatric-specific multivitamin and mineral supplement, such as BariatricPal Multivitamin One, includes these and other essential vitamins and minerals.
BariatricPal Multivitamin One is a daily vitamin designed specifically with bariatric surgery patients in mind. It meets or exceeds standards set by the ASMBS and it comes in a few different forms to meet your needs.
- Orange Citrus Chewables with 45 mg Iron
- Mixed Berry Chewables with 45 mg Iron
- Mixed Berry Chewables without Iron
- Orange Citrus Chewables without Iron
- Capsules without Iron or with 18 mg, 45 mg, or 60 mg of Iron
Ask your doctor which one is best for you. The easiest way to get your vitamins and make sure they’re always around when you need them is to set up recurring deliveries at the frequency that works for you. When you do, you get free shipping and a discount.
Other Dietary Components
It may sound crazy, but there are even more dietary components that contribute to optimal health, and it’s possible you’re not getting much from food. For example, probiotics are healthy gut bacteria, and a healthy gut profile is linked to healthier body weight and metabolism.* And omega-3 fatty acids are needed for heart health and are also linked to better control of blood sugar.*
Probiotics are in some foods such as yogurt and kimchi, but you may not be eating much of those after weight loss surgery due to lactose intolerance (yogurt) or avoiding spicy foods (kimchi). The BariatricPal Store has Probiotic supplements, as well as Prebiotic supplements to support the growth of probiotics.
Omega-3 fats are in foods such as fatty fish and flaxseed, but you can also get them from supplements. The BariatricPal Store has Omega-3 Patches and Softgels to make it easier to get optimal amounts.
Best Form of Bariatric Vitamins and Minerals
When choosing a supplement, it’s a good idea to choose the form that works best for you. Capsules can be a simple way to get your nutrients, but some people don’t like swallowing pills. It may even be impossible to swallow pills after bariatric surgery when you still have a wound in your digestive system.
Chewable Tablets, Quick Dissolve Tablets, and Liquid Vitamins can be forms that are easy to swallow. The BariatricPal Store has them in delicious, sugar-free flavors. Chews are also available if you’re looking for Calcium supplements.
Vitamin Patches are another choice. Vitamin Patches can contain high amounts of nutrients and a wide range of them, and there’s no risk of an upset stomach from digestion. You can just put them on your skin and leave them on for up to eight hours before removing them and discarding them. The BariatricPal Store has a full range of Vitamin Patches to meet your needs. Just be sure to ask a healthcare provider which patches or other supplements are best for you.
Bariatric versus Regular Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
Is it necessary to take supplements that are specifically designed for bariatric surgery patients? Or can you choose other supplements? After all, there are tons of daily multivitamin and mineral products on the market. Can you just take one or two of those and call it good enough?
That probably won’t work. That’s because your needs as a bariatric surgery patient are different from the needs of target users for those products, many of which have about 100% of the daily value for many nutrients. But your needs can be far higher than average, and higher than the daily value. Consider these differences listed by ASMBS.
- The daily recommendation for weight loss surgery patients for thiamin (vitamin B1) is at least 12 mg, while the daily value is 1.5 mg.
- The daily recommendation for weight loss surgery patients for vitamin B12 is 350 to 500 mcg, while the daily value is only 6 mcg!
- The daily recommendation for weight loss surgery patients for vitamin D is at least 3,000 IU, while the daily value is 400 IU.
Do you get the point? Taking a regular multivitamin or two may not get you what you need to stay completely nourished.
That’s why there are bariatric-specific vitamin and mineral supplements. Our full range of Bariatric Vitamins (and other supplements) is sure to include the ones you need in a form that works for you.
Getting enough nutrients is absolutely critical after weight loss surgery to heal well, lose weight healthily, and keep up your metabolism, immune system, and the other systems in your body. Beyond getting enough protein, you’ll probably need to take Bariatric Vitamins, including a Bariatric Multivitamin and Mineral as well as possible other supplements. Be sure to ask your doctor which ones may be right for you, and to check out all of the options at The BariatricPal Store. We’re here to make healthy weight loss as easy as possible for you!
*The Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated these statements. BariatricPal Store products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Anyone with a medical condition should seek the advice of a licensed medical practitioner. Individual results may vary.