To answer this question, we must first understand some very important things about vitamins. From a very broad perspective, we need to divide vitamins into two categories. There are vitamins:
In bariatric medicine, we have two broad categories of patients:
Many of the water-soluble vitamins are very easy to absorb and a small amount of intestine is needed to absorb them. Fat soluble, and other more difficult to absorb nutrients require a longer contact period with the surface of your intestines to be absorbed. Many of these more difficult-to-absorb vitamins are also more toxic in excess (e.g., Vitamin D).
If we look at the bariatric patient losing weight through non-surgical means we can see that a vitamin formulation and dose that is designed for a full-length intestine is ideal- however, a person with a modified intestine will require a different formulation of vitamins with slightly higher concentrations of the more problematic fat-soluble vitamins.
Generally, if you have a modified intestinal tract, it is very important to have blood checks done relatively regularly as per your doctor and dietician's advice to ensure that you do not have any vitamin deficiencies developing and they would prescribe doses of vitamins required to correct such deficiencies. Surgery necessitates lifelong adherence to supplement taking with medical monitoring.
If you have trouble remembering to take your vitamins, smartphone apps have been developed but have not been shown to help much with health management. It appears that you just must want to be healthy and then you will get it right and remember to take your supplements.
The Doctor and Dietician managing your case should take regular blood tests to assess your overall health and recovery if you have had bariatric surgery. The most important vitamin supplements for bariatric patients have increased levels of essential nutrients that will ensure you absorb sufficient vitamins to thrive. Each of us has a different set of dynamics in our intestines, so I cannot overemphasize the importance of tracking your blood vitamin levels. I have friends involved specifically in the Vitamin D research field and they find that a lot of people have sub-optimal levels of this vitamin. Regular monitoring and additional supplementation with Vitamin D help tremendously with overall health.
The process by which Vitamin D is absorbed is relatively complex, hence sometimes bariatric surgery can make it very difficult for us to absorb this essential vitamin. Consequently, one of the most important vitamin supplements for bariatric patients is a vitamin D supplement. If your blood tests still show a persistent lack of increase in Vitamin D despite conventional supplements a sublingual vitamin supplement can help – these are absorbed in the mouth, and, provide an alternative route to the bloodstream. This MUST be done with the constant monitoring and advice of your medical practitioner as these vitamins are dangerous in excess. (I stress this over and over as I had a friend who died from Vitamin A overuse, so I am acutely aware of the dangers of vitamins).
There is some evidence to suggest certain types of bariatric surgery can cause a deficiency in essential minerals such as Iron – this causes anemia amongst other symptoms. Anemia is easily measured via a blood test, and you can also just do the old “pull the eyelid down and look at the color trick”. An iron supplement formulated for bariatric patients is one of the most important vitamin supplements for bariatric patients.
Many people overlook zinc - one of the most important vitamin supplements for bariatric patients provides minerals, vitamins, lipids, and protein in an easy-to-absorb format that can be consumed a few times a day in between meals – this is when boosting zinc is most important. A nutrient drink can help- instead of coffee, have a nutrient drink that boosts your vitamin and mineral intake. Multiple small doses of beneficial nutrients spread over a full day can help a lot to achieve stable levels of the nutrients you need to be the optimal you.
We all have patches when we feel run down and tired. Taking the most important vitamins and mineral supplements for bariatric patients as listed above is one thing – but what can we take them with to ensure maximum health? Over the years I have developed a belief that Swiss Chard just makes me feel better – this is backed up by science. If I feel run down, I make my favorite first meal of the day – poached eggs, steamed Swiss Chard with butter, carrots, and vitamin-rich chocolate shake – and combine it with my supplements. It always works as a great pick me up – my energy improves, my weight stabilizes, and my sleep is better. Then I forget for a week or two and feel flat and revert to this!
Managing health while on a bariatric diet of after bariatric surgery will mean that the most important vitamin supplements for bariatric patients in either category are different. Choosing the correct bariatric multivitamins and supplements to ensure the optimal you requires blood vitamin monitoring and the advice of a doctor and a dietician. The most important vitamins and supplements for bariatric patients, when correctly selected, for your specific needs, allow you to achieve a stable healthy life.
Writer: Dr. G. Cambray
Dr. Cambray has a PhD in applied microbiology and works in several fields including research into products that enhance the human microbiome. He is a beekeeper, gardener, and mushroom cultivator who believes you are what you eat. In this regard, you must pay special attention to the quality of the food and supplements you consume to ensure you can be the best version of yourself.
Reviewed By: Dr. K. Huffman
Dr. Kevin D. Huffman, D.O., is a board-certified bariatric physician renowned for his expertise in treating obesity. With over 10,000 patients and a reputation as a national leader in bariatric medicine, he has trained hundreds of healthcare providers. Dr. Huffman develops protocols and training materials for medical societies, pharmaceutical companies, patients, and hospitals.