YES! You will need to take bariatric vitamins after weight loss surgery...
...every day for the rest of your life!
And I don't mean Flintstones vitamins!
Bariatric supplements are essential for gastric bypass and duodenal switch patients and a good idea for lap band and gastric sleeve patients.
As a bariatric dietitian, it blows me away when I hear doctors recommending Flintstones or other junior vitamins. As a weight loss surgery patient, you have higher nutrient needs than an average adult...
...not the lower needs of a small child. The only redeeming quality of the junior vitamins that are often recommended is that they are chewable. (And chewable vitamins are really only necessary for the first few months following surgery.)
It makes more sense for weight loss surgery patients to take bariatric vitamins specifically formulated for bariatric patients!
Taking properly formulated bariatric surgery vitamins and having your blood checked regularly (I'd suggest checking every 6-9 months or annually at a bare minimum) needs to be an important part of your life after weight loss surgery.
Doing so just may save you from feeling tired and sluggish, losing your hair, or trying to make a comeback from anemia. It's easier to prevent nutrient deficiencies than to try to recover once you have one.
Types of weight loss surgery that require use of bariatric vitamins
Good quality, properly formulated bariatric vitamins are an absolute MUST following malabsorptive types of weight loss surgery such as the roux-en-y and duodenal switch.
High quality bariatric surgery vitamins are also a VERY GOOD IDEA after restrictive types of surgery such as the gastric lap band or gastric sleeve surgeries.
Why do I need to take bariatric vitamins?
It makes complete sense that you'd have to supplement after a malabsorptive type of surgery, doesn't it? While it may be great for your waistline to avoid absorbing all the food you eat, it's not so good for your nutritional status.
That's because if you don't absorb all of your food, you don't absorb a lot of important nutrients either...
...nutrients like calcium, B vitamins and iron.
Chewable bariatric surgery vitamins vs. tablets/capsules
Chewable bariatric supplements are only necessary for the first two to three months after weight loss surgery while your new, smaller stomach heals. A few months after surgery, or when you feel like you're able to swallow a pill bigger than an aspirin, you can switch to non-chewable supplements if you want.
Which bariatric vitamins do I need?
Gastric Bypass Vitamins and Duodenal Switch Vitamins*:
*Check with your doctor for additional recommendations regarding fat soluble vitamins with the duodenal switch.
Lap Band or Gastric Sleeve:
Note: There are various forms of calcium you can buy. Because of decreased stomach acid after gastric bypass, duodenal switch, or gastric sleeve, calcium citrate is the preferred form of calcium after weight loss surgery.
Which brand of bariatric vitamins is the best?
Bariatric Advantage. Hands down.
Yes, you can find cheaper vitamins in the drugstore, but Bariatric Advantage vitamins are specifically formulated to meet the needs of weight loss surgery patients. Why would you even want to take anything other?!
Bariatric Advantage Chewable Multivitamin (Available in Berry, Tropical, and Orange Flavors): For use in the first 3 months after roux-en-y or duodenal switch when chewable vitamins are necessary (and forever after that if you prefer chewable vitamins vs. capsules). Take 2/day or as otherwise directed by your doctor.
Bariatric Advantage Multivitamin Capsules: If you prefer to swallow your vitamins vs. chewing them, you can switch to a capsule after ~ 3 months following surgery. This is no one-a-day formula however...you'll need to take 6 capsules per day.
Bariatric Advantage VitaBand: Chewable multivitamin available in Watermelon and Lemon Creme Flavors. For use after lap-band or gastric sleeve. Take 2/day or as otherwise directed by your doctor.
Bariatric Advantage Calcium Citrate Lozenges (Available in Chocolate, Cherry, Mint, and Cinnamon flavors): Zero calories! Other calcium chews on the market (e.g. Citracal chews) taste good, but have 35 calories per chew...and you have to take 2 - 3 per day! That's a lot of calories wasted on "non-food!"
Bariatric Advantage Chewable Iron (Available in Strawberry and Passion Fruit Flavors that taste kind of like Sweet Tarts!): Available in 18mg dose and a 29mg dose when higher amounts are needed. Take 1/day. Note: Don't take the higher dose unless recommended by your doctor.
I love this iron formulation because it has vitamin C mixed in. Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron. As a dietitian, I usually have to recommend taking iron supplements with vitamin C rich foods (e.g., OJ or strawberries) but with this formula I don't! The vitamin C is already worked right in!
Bariatric Advantage Sublingual B12 (Available in Cherry Flavor): After malabsorptive surgeries you'll either need to take sublingual (under the tongue) B12 daily or get a monthly B12 shot. To take these properly, place under your tongue and let the tablet dissolve.
Make sure your medicine cabinet is well stocked with all your bariatric vitamins before your surgery. You'll be experiencing a lot of emotions and lifestyle changes after surgery and remembering to order your vitamins can easily be the first thing to go. You should start taking all your vitamins within the first few weeks after surgery...
...and never stop. Don't forget that!!
When to take your bariatric vitamins
You need a plan.
You've got a handful of vitamins to take and a small stomach that can't hold much at once. To top it off, some nutrients cant' be taken together.
Don't take your calcium with your iron supplement as the two interfere with one another. Calcium and iron should be taken at least two hours apart.
Gastric Bypass or Duodenal Switch Vitamin Schedule:
Lap Band or Gastric Sleeve Vitamin Schedule
Lunch or Supper/Dinner
If you're not a good pill taker, or seem to "never remember" to take your vitamins, you'll need to vastly improve those habits!
My bariatric vitamin recommendations are simply intended to get you off on the right foot. Don't forget that you need to follow up regularly with you doctor to monitor your blood.
Make sure you're doctor is checking iron and B12 levels at least once a year (I recommend doing it more frequently...every 6-9 months). I've worked with patients who've had "blood work" done regularly only to find out iron was never checked as part of that blood work, and they turn up anemic years later.
Unfortunately your bone health can't be assessed from a simple blood test. A more complex (and expensive) test called a DEXA bone scan is the best way to determine bone density. Consider having one done pre-surgery so you have a baseline test and then every few years after surgery to monitor what your bones are doing.
As I've said previously, it's much easier to prevent nutrient deficiencies than to try to dig yourself out of the hole once you have one. You're getting a second chance at life with your weight loss surgery. Take your health seriously along the way!