Article By: Whittany Gibson, RDN
Whittany is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who specializes in bariatric nutrition counseling, providing education and support prior to and following weight loss surgery.
It’s true that living the bariatric lifestyle is indeed a new and different journey than you might be used to. Your new journey includes adopting different eating patterns, eating dramatically smaller portions, dedicating time to exercise on a regular basis, and the list goes on... To be successful, you’ll need to add one more thing to your list and that’s taking a daily bariatric multivitamin. In this article, I’ll cover the top FAQs about bariatric multivitamins so you can better understand the importance of supplementation.
1) Why do I need to take a bariatric multivitamin? No matter which surgery you choose, each procedure comes with a risk of malnutrition. Gastric bypass is a malabsorptive and restrictive surgery, meaning you will not absorb nutrients as you once did due to the route in which food travels. Changes in stomach acid pH also affect nutrient absorption. Sleeve gastrectomy is not considered a malabsorptive surgery, but it is restrictive. Sleeve gastrectomy still poses a risk of malnutrition due to the lack of nutrient variety in your diet.
With both procedures, the transit time of food will be much quicker, so the timeframe for nutrient absorption is now a shorter window. With supplementation, you’re covered with the vitamins and minerals your body needs.
2) What kind of supplements are recommended? The American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) provides recommendations for supplementation following weight loss surgery. To ensure you are getting everything you need, it’s easiest to take a vitamin that is formulated for bariatric patients versus multiple over-the-counter supplements.
A bariatric multivitamin will ensure you are meeting guidelines and can also eliminate the confusion of taking multiple supplements throughout the day. Although some people have individualized needs, a complete bariatric multivitamin that contains iron is the typical minimum recommendation. A calcium supplement is also recommended due to the increased risk of osteoporosis.
3) What if I don’t take my supplements? Without consistent and adequate supplementation, you are at risk for nutrient insufficiencies, deficiencies, and malnutrition. These deficiencies can leave you with irreversible nerve damage, among other issues. Some of these issues may not occur until years down the road, so supplementation is very much a prophylactic approach to avoiding future problems.
4) How long do I have to take a bariatric multivitamin? You will be supplementing for the rest of your life. This is why it is vital to get into a routine with a supplement you can take consistently. Some programs may suggest you begin to take your supplement before surgery and others may instruct you to start taking vitamins approximately one week post-op.
Tips after surgery:
- Initially, take a multivitamin in chewable or melt form. BariMelts multivitamins are a great option as they melt on your tongue, and they also taste great!
- Choose a vitamin regimen you can stick to. Consistency is important.
- Set alarms or reminders so you don’t forget.
- To prevent nausea, take your multivitamin after you have eaten a more calorie-dense or solid food. Many patients are not able to tolerate a multivitamin on an empty stomach.
- Talk to your dietitian about calcium supplementation in addition to your multivitamin. You may or may not need to supplement calcium depending on your diet.
Ensure you have a detailed discussion with your dietitian about multivitamin supplementation following surgery. Recommendations, while they are generalized, may need to be tailored to your specific needs. Understand the importance of consistent supplementation as this will be a large part of maintaining a good nutrition status.
BariMelts provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor.