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Many people take a variety of vitamin and mineral supplements, but most do not even think twice about missing a day or two. For those who have recently had bariatric surgery, however, taking vitamins and minerals every day is a crucial part of the post-surgical lifestyle. Making it part of a daily routine is critical because bariatric surgery alters your anatomy, in turn altering the way your body absorbs nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. Without the right supplements, there’s a higher risk of deficiency, and it can be dangerous. 

What Nutrients Provide

Vitamins and minerals have many functions, and certain vitamins, like several of the B vitamins, play important roles in the regulation of our metabolism. As they help release energy from the food we digest, it’s important we get the ones we need and in the proper amounts. 

Without vitamins in the proper portion, we can run the risk of deficiency, which can lead to fatigue and muscle weakness. If it continues, it can become more serious, and conditions like anemia or memory loss can come about. People who face these challenges can avoid them with a regular routine while considering their diet and their supplements each day. 

Minerals help metabolism as well, but they also are important because they are an essential part of our body’s fluids. In order to have healthy bones and blood, we need these tiny nutritional components in our daily supplements. Minerals also help regulate your heart, muscle, and nerve functions, and if we become deficient in minerals, we’ll see the same results; fatigue and weakness, and if we let it go too long, we can face significant issues, such as heart problems or muscle spasms. 

Taking Steps to Prevent Deficiencies 

A good diet composed of protein, vegetables, fruit, and whole grains helps get us to a good place when it comes to the nutrients we need. But after bariatric surgery, since your intake is restricted, less food means fewer vitamins and minerals. That’s where supplements come in. They are not there to make up for a poor diet, but rather to fill in the gaps where our diet may fall short because of our restricted intake. They are a requirement after surgery and you’ll continue to take them for the rest of your life. 

What We Specifically Recommend 

For the first 6months post-surgery, it is required that you take vitamins and minerals in chewable, liquid, soft chew, melt-away, or powdered form. This is recommended for better absorption. If after 6months post-surgery you would like to switch to capsules or tablets, you may do so. 

All patients must take a good complete multivitamin. This should contain all the vitamins you need along with all of the necessary minerals. Make sure your multivitamin contains at least 18mg of iron, 3mg of B1 (thiamin), 1.7mg of B6 and15mg of zinc. These are of particular importance for bariatric patients. If your multivitamin does not contain iron, you will need to take iron as a separate supplement. 

You will also need to take an extra calcium supplement daily. We recommend 1200mg/day of calcium in the form of calcium citrate. Calcium citrate is preferable because it requires less acid to be absorbed. Your body cannot absorb more than 500-600mg at a time, so it is important to divide the 1200mg into 2-3 doses throughout the day. Allow at least 2hours between taking your calcium and your multivitamin with iron or your separate iron supplement because calcium and iron bind and the absorption will be affected for both. In addition, 2000 lU/day (50 meg) of Vitamin D will be necessary. 

For patients undergoing gastric bypass, it is recommended that you take 250- 500mcg of extra B12 per day. Specifically, it is recommended that you take Vitamin B12 in sublingual or quick melt form. You can absorb the B12 through the mucus membranes of the mouth and bypass the stomach altogether. 

You may have additional concerns or needs, so if you are feeling very fatigued or are having bouts of weakness, make sure to talk to your surgeon and dietitian. One of the important aspects of this effort is communication. Specific approaches, including additions of some vitamins or minerals over shorter periods of time, can help. With good communication, a thorough routine, and the right balance of nutrients from food or added with a supplement, most folks will find themselves feeling better and on the right path toward a more pleasant tomorrow, one with energy to spare.

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