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Multivitamins after bariatric surgery

After bariatric surgery, you must take vitamins for the rest of your life. Serious deficiencies and several conditions can arise  from non-compliance with your vitamin and mineral guidelines. Furthermore, your mood, your energy levels, and your focus are also often affected by not taking enough of the right vitamins after a (mini) gastric bypass or sleeve surgery.
Blood tests are required every three months for your first year after surgery and annually after that.

Why do I have to take a multivitamin after bariatric surgery?

Vitamins and minerals are important for everybody, but especially so after bariatric surgery. You have undergone surgery to improve your health, and with that should come attention for proper nutrition. That doesn’t have to be difficult. The main three components are:

  • Drink enough water
  • Watch your macronutrients (carbs, fats and proteins)
  • Watch your micronutrients (vitamins and minerals)

You likely will be recommended to monitor your macronutrients, especially your protein intake after bariatric surgery. For more info on protein and why it is important, see our blog:
Protein, building blocks of life.

Likewise, the micronutrients, so minerals and vitamins, will be monitored by your team of doctors and dieticians in your bariatric center.

Micronutrients after Sleeve surgery

After gastric sleeve surgery, your stomach is so small that you can not consume enough food to get adequate amounts of the most important vitamins and minerals. Apart from that, the removed part of your stomach is an area that produces gastric acid and certain digestive enzymes. Without (a lot) of these enzymes and this acid, certain vitamins and minerals are not absorbed the same way as when you had a complete stomach.
While nothing is changed to your intestinal tract with a sleeve surgery, there is still a change in the way that vitamins and minerals are absorbed. That is why the deficiency rates are quite similar between the gastric sleeve and other bariatric procedures like the gastric bypass.

Micronutrients after (mini) Gastric Bypass

After a gastric bypass or mini gastric bypass surgery, you have several issues with getting enough vitamins and minerals. Firstly,  you’ve got capacity issues, like the sleeve. You can’t consume enough foods to get everything you need. But secondly, gastric bypass patients have a form of malabsorption. Your digestive tract has been surgically altered to not absorb all the macro- (and micro!) nutrients, so you lose weight. This means that also vitamins and minerals are malabsorbed.

Possible problems after weight-loss surgery

  • Anemia due to a deficiency of iron or B12
  • Neurological complications due to B12 deficiency*
  • Bone and kidney diseases because of calcium and vitamin D deficiencies

These are just a few examples, but there are many smaller complaints that derive from a lack of certain vitamins or minerals.

Multivitamins after bariatric surgery

To get enough vitamins and minerals after your surgery, you will be advised to take a special multivitamin supplement for the rest of your life.
Begin taking your supplements when you start the pureed food stage of your diet, not during the liquid phase.
Most patients do best with chewable or liquid vitamins for the first months after surgery. Choose a chewable complete multivitamin with iron, and avoid gummy vitamins and vitamin skin patches.

Why not just take 'over the counter' supplements?

If you choose an over-the-counter multivitamin, you are taking a supplement that is not designed for your special situation. You might need more of certain vitamins than a person with a regular stomach. But this is not the case in the same amount for all the different vitamins and minerals.  So just taking 2 of the drugstore vitamins, might get you in the right level of some vitamins. But it also might get you too little of some other vitamins and too much of another group.
That is why most clinics and doctors recommend taking a bariatric multivitamin, that has exactly what you need of each specific vitamin and mineral.