5 Tips On How To Take Your Bariatric Vitamins After Surgery

You might be feeling overwhelmed with the number of supplements you’ve been instructed to take before and/or after weight-loss surgery. Instructions mention some should be taken with food and some without; some can be taken together, and some should be completely separated. This can all get very confusing!  

After some research, it seems the best way to take all these supplements is to schedule them around meals. Doing so not only helps patients to get the most out of their bariatric vitamins but also serves as a reminder to take supplements in the first place! 

 Here is a sample of what your supplement intake scheduled around meals might look like: 


Vitamins and Supplements


500-600mg Calcium

Morning Snack



500-600mg Calcium

Afternoon Snack


Vitamin D3


500-600mg Calcium

Evening Snack


Vitamin B12



Keep in mind that all patients' needs are different, and you may be taking more or less vitamins than the ones listed here. This sample schedule can be moved around to better fit your particular diet, lifestyle, and vitamin needs. 

 Key points to keep in mind when it comes to the timing of your bariatric vitamins/supplements: 

1.It's important to split up your total daily intake of calcium into several smaller doses.

The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery recommends bariatric patients take anywhere from 1200mg to 2400mg of calcium a day in divided doses depending on your bariatric surgery and specific needs. Although large daily doses are oftentimes required post-weight-loss surgery, it's recommended to take about 500-600mg at a time. This is because the body cannot absorb much more than 600mg of calcium in one sitting and any excess calcium is usually eliminated in the urine.  

2. If possible, try to separate calcium supplements from other vitamins because calcium can alter the absorption of other supplements. 

For example, calcium and iron should be taken at least 2 hours apart. If taken together, calcium can reduce the body's absorption of iron. Separating these two vitamins can also help reduce the risk of getting an upset stomach associated with both iron and calcium. Aside from iron, calcium can also alter the absorption of vitamin D and many other vitamins found in multivitamins. For this reason, it's best to try to take calcium on its own. 

3. Multivitamins are best taken with food to prevent upset stomach and to increase absorption.  

BUT multivitamins should not be taken with dairy products such as milk which can reduce absorption. Try to wait at least 2 hours between taking your multivitamin and eating dairy.  

4. Iron, on the other hand, is best absorbed on an empty stomach, about 30 minutes before a meal.  

That being said, iron is often associated with upset stomach and gastrointestinal intolerance. If this occurs, it's recommended to take iron with a snack to reduce these side effects. As with multivitamins, avoid taking iron along with dairy products which can limit its absorption.  

5. Lastly, always remember your bariatric doctors, dieticians, and pharmacists are available to help you! 

 If you find you are having trouble keeping up with your intake of recommended vitamins or find that you can't tolerate certain vitamins, always communicate that to your healthcare providers!  

Finding a supplement schedule that's right for you might be difficult at first and can involve some trial and error. It's only a matter of time and perseverance until taking your daily scheduled vitamins and supplements becomes second nature through your journey to a healthier lifestyle.      


Vitamin and Mineral Supplementation for Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass. Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/johns_hopkins_bayview/_docs/medical_services/bariatrics/nutrition_roux_en_y.pdf. Published May 2015. Accessed February 27, 2018. 

vitamins after WLS


Vitamins & Medications after Bariatric Surgery. Kaiser Permanente. https://wa.kaiserpermanente.org/static/pdf/public/bariatric/meds.pdf. Published September 2017. Accessed February 22, 2018. 


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