Will Anything Happen If I Don’t Take Vitamins After Bariatric Surgery?

Will Anything Happen If I Don’t Take Vitamins After Bariatric Surgery?

Alex Brecher

What will happen if you don’t take vitamins after bariatric surgery? Is it really necessary to take vitamins for life? With so much else to think about after bariatric surgery, such as getting enough protein and water, do you really need to think about vitamins? 

Taking your vitamins really is critical, but it’s not all bad. The great news is that with the right choice of vitamins, it can be an easy experience. The BariatricPal Store has bariatric vitamins that are designed to meet the needs of post-op patients, and they’re easy to take. Here’s what to know about what can happen if you don’t take vitamins after bariatric surgery, and how to make it easy to take them.

Reasons for Needing Vitamins After Bariatric Surgery

It is natural to wonder why your surgeon or dietitian tells you to take your vitamins for life. After all, aren’t you starting off over nourished since you’re overweight? And aren’t you changing your eating habits to focus on getting nutritious foods and reducing low-nutrient-foods in your meal plan?

First of all, many overweight people are actually low in vitamins and minerals even though calories are too high. That means you may go into bariatric surgery with a mild deficit already.

After weight loss surgery, there are many possible reasons why what you eat may not give you enough of all of the essential vitamins and minerals. Here are a few common reasons.

  • You are eating smaller quantities of food, which may not contain enough nutrients for your body.
  • You may be eating a limited diet, such as one that is low in dairy products due to lactose intolerance, and therefore missing good sources of certain nutrients.
  • Some bariatric surgery procedures are malabsorptive. This helps you lose weight because your body gets less energy from the foods you eat, but you can also get fewer nutrients.

Vitamins and Minerals of Concern 

When talking about taking vitamins after bariatric surgery, we’re really talking about both vitamins and essential minerals. Certain ones are of particular concern for bariatric surgery patients.

These are some vitamins and minerals that are commonly deficient after weight loss surgery.


Iron is a mineral that is part of hemoglobin, which is the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells. Iron-deficiency anemia is common worldwide and in bariatric surgery patients. Iron is also needed for a strong immune system. Animal-based sources of iron include red meat, chicken, egg yolks, and plant-based sources include beans, leafy green vegetables, potatoes, and raisins. 

B Vitamins

Many B vitamins are essential for energy production from fat, carbohydrates, and protein in the foods you eat. Some B vitamins are necessary for producing and breaking down proteins in your body. Folic acid is needed for neural tube development in embryos, and biotin is a B vitamin that is needed for healthy hair and skin.* Vitamin B12 is needed for normal nerve function.* Thiamin, or vitamin B1, folic acid, vitamin B12, and biotin are all commonly deficient in bariatric surgery patients. There are a range of B vitamins, and they’re in diverse foods ranging from grains, beans, and vegetables to dairy products, eggs, meat, and seafood. 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is needed for calcium metabolism and bone health, but also for immune function, heart health, and breast, prostate, and colon health. Your skin can make vitamin D when it is exposed to the sun, but many people, such as people with dark skin, older adults, people living in northern climates, and people without adequate exposure, are deficient. Bariatric surgery patients are often deficient, too. Fortified milk, egg yolks, and fatty fish are some sources. 


Calcium is essential for bone health, but it can take years to realize that you are deficient. Dairy products are the best sources.

Though this list may seem long, you don’t have to worry about taking a separate vitamin for each one. The BariatricPal Store has many bariatric-specific multivitamins to help you get what you need more easily.

Signs of Vitamin Deficiencies After Bariatric Surgery

Almost all bariatric surgery patients have a vitamin or mineral deficiency, and that can lead to symptoms. Symptoms can vary depending on the specific deficiency and how severe it is, but these symptoms can give you an idea of what may happen if you don’t take vitamins after bariatric surgery.*

  • Slower weight loss due to slower metabolism and less energy
  • Fatigue and muscle weakness
  • Brittle nails, loss of hair, and scaly skin
  • Changes in mood or a higher risk for depression
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet due to neuropathy
  • Increased risk for heart disease
  • Shortness of breath
  • More frequent infections than normal
  • Low bone density
  • Muscle aches

You can also ask your healthcare provider about evaluating you for a vitamin or mineral deficiency if you are concerned. Blood tests and dietary assessments can be helpful for many nutrients.

Best Bariatric Vitamins

The truth is that not just any vitamin will do. Regular vitamins may be too low in a lot of crucial vitamins and minerals for bariatric surgery patients. Bariatric vitamins formulated according to ASMBS guidelines can be a better choice for preventing deficiencies.*

The BariatricPal Store has many multivitamin choices that meet or exceed ASMBS standards. BariatricPal Multivitamin ONE comes with or without iron, and in easy-to-swallow capsules or pleasantly-flavored chewable tablets in Mixed Berry or Orange flavors. 

It’s also good to take a calcium supplement separately from your multivitamin to avoid interference with absorption. BariatricPal Calcium Chews are sugar-free and have vitamin D and probiotics. They come in delicious flavors, including Caramel Apple, Belgian Chocolate Caramel, Chocolate Mint, French Vanilla Caramel, Orange Creamsicle, Piña Colada, Strawberry Watermelon Twist, Wild Grape, and Blue Raspberry.

Taking bariatric vitamins is a great way to lower your chances of deficiencies and symptoms that may come with it. While iron, calcium, B vitamins, and vitamin D are some common nutrients of concern, a bariatric multivitamin can contain other nutrients to give you peace of mind. BariatricPal Multivitamin ONE and Calcium Chews are easy to take and formulated for you.

*The Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated these statements. BariatricPal 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.

Taking vitamins post op