Did you know that 35% of pre-bariatric surgery patients are mostly deficient in magnesium, iron, and Vitamin A? Obesity epitomizes overnutrition but in an unhealthy caloric sense and overweight people can still be malnourished when it comes to micronutrients because their body tells them to keep eating until all their micronutrient needs are met, even if they are, in actual fact eating too many unnecessary calories.
Nutritional deficiency in overweight people is prevalent even more so after bariatric surgery. People who have had bariatric surgery interventions such as gastric banding or gastric bypass surgery means that a portion of their stomach is made into a small pouch, which in essence, means that the amount of food a patient can consume is significantly reduced and alters the natural absorption of nutrients due to the resulting avoidance of the small intestine.
Some of the most common deficiencies after bariatric surgery are Vitamin B12, folate, zinc, iron, copper, calcium, as well as Vitamin D and a nutritional deficiency of these minerals and vitamins can lead to health problems such as anemia, osteoporosis, and peripheral neuropathy among others, which can interfere with recovery. In order to avoid such health complication, dietary supplementation of minerals and vitamins must begin soon after surgery.
Bariatric surgery can save someone’s life in terms of helping severely obese people shed pounds and lower their risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other obesity-related diseases. Therefore, it would defeat the purpose for an individual to have this life-saving surgery and not follow-up with eating healthy, balanced meals and supplementing with essential vitamins and minerals.
A strict post-op diet plan needs to be followed and what you eat for the first five weeks after gastric bypass surgery really matters because eating the wrong food could put undue stress on the staple line, and lead to a leak or infection. After gastric bypass surgery, a patient is expected to be on liquids such as water, milk, or broth for 7 days, then gradually progress to pureed foods for 14 days, soft foods up to 2 months and finally solid foods for the rest of their lives.
Supplements to take after Bariatric Surgery
A high potency Multivitamin is the very first supplements to take after surgery, which come in easy to digest and absorb liquid or chewable form because some patients find it hard to swallow tablets at first. They are important because they contain a complete vitamin B-complex, vitamins A, D, E, a full range of trace mineral support. It is important to avoid gummy multivitamins as they do not contain all vital minerals and vitamins the body needs after surgery.
Calcium and vitamin D supplementation is highly recommended in most weight loss treatments in order to prevent bone reabsorption. Three servings of Calcium Citrate +D chewable supplement that contains at least 1000 – 2000gm of calcium is beneficial for healthy bones and teeth. Calcium citrate is easily absorbable and is necessary for normal functioning of nerves, cells, muscle, and bones. Low levels of this important vitamin in the blood mean that, not only will the body start taking calcium from the bones, but this process will also weaken them.
Anything that interferes with iron absorption such as intestinal surgery can lead to iron deficiency. Anemia is known to affect at least two-thirds of patients undergoing bariatric surgery, and 20% of these patients are often iron deficient. This is because, after a gastric bypass procedure, food bypasses the duodenum, which can lead to iron deficiency and anemia – a side effect that results from the changes made during the surgery.
Therefore 30-65mg of elemental Iron chewable supplements after surgery is vital. Iron deficiency can cause brittle nails, fatigue, generalized weakness, irritability, which why bariatric patients must have their iron intake in check.
350 mg of Vitamin B12 supplement once a day is very important. Many obese patients are deficient in thiamine (vitamin B1), which helps the body to metabolize food for energy and to maintain proper heart and nerve function. A Vitamin B12 deficiency after bariatric surgery is known to cause weakness, fatigue, heart complications, and nerve damage.
Until a patient can eat solids such as eggs, fish, meat, and poultry, then a B vitamin supplementation together with magnesium is vital in order to achieve a maximum thiamine absorption and bioavailability. Currently, vitamin B12 supplements are also available as a spray to be applied sublingually.
It is not uncommon to experience hair loss after bariatric surgery without proper nutrition. Biotin supplements are necessary to promote healthy hair, nails, and healthy skin too. It also prevents intestinal disorders like Crohn’s disease and inflammatory or irritable bowel disorders and may even lower bad cholesterol levels.
- The prevention of vitamin and mineral deficiencies requires a long-term term commitment. The regular use of a nutritional supplementation ensures that you are getting all the micronutrients you need in weight regulation
- Stick to chewable, liquid, crystal form supplements and use the sublingual administration method for the first 3-6 months.
- Avoid all gummy vitamins because they do not get absorbed well in the body and they also do not have all the nutrients you need for your recovery
- Do not take calcium citrate with vitamin D or Iron supplements because they compete in their absorption
- Stick to brands like bariatric advantage and celebrate because they include everything you need in their formula
- Add natural fiber to your diet like oatmeal, papaya, orange or plums when you get constipated from taking iron supplements
- Take your supplements religiously and stick to a low calorie, healthy diet
Ensuring that your body gets the right amount of each vitamin will keep you healthy because a vitamin deficiency is the last thing you need when recovering from surgery. It is also very important for Bariatric patients to stick to the recommended supplements and consult with their doctor at all times before beginning with a different course of supplementation.