Bariatric vitamins exist for a reason. When your body lacks sufficient nourishment, you’ll often notice side effects. After weight loss surgery, every single nutrient becomes vitally more critical.
Weight loss surgery changes the way your gastrointestinal system works as well as the level of vitamins and minerls in your body. Not taking bariatric-specific vitamins after gastric bypass and gastric sleeve regularly can cause permanent memory loss and nerve damage.
So, what happens if you don’t take proper vitamin supplementation and minerals post-bariatric surgery? I am glad you asked.
Signs of Vitamin Deficiency
Feeling tired and cranky is the first indication of a vitamin-deficient diet. If a strict vitamin regiment is not followed, your body will send these red flags:
- Hair loss
- Brain fog
- Muscle loss
- Cracked and dry skin
- Blurred vision
- Nerve damage
- Weak and brittle bones
To sustain a healthy diet, you must take bariatric-specified vitamins after weight loss surgery to prevent detrimental consequences.
Taking dietary vitamins daily will help your body heal while still losing weight. Your stomach is very sensitive and won’t be able to handle vitamins in pill form for the first few months.
Drinkable and chewable vitamins can be easier to consume after bariatric surgery. After three months, you are more than welcome to take your vitamins in pill and capsule form.
The best way to maintain a well-balanced post-op diet is to follow the required dosages according to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) guidelines:
Bariatric Multivitamin – Daily
Thiamine – 12mg
Calcium – 1,200-1,500mg
Vitamin D – 3000 IU (75mcg)
Iron – 45-60mg (menstruating women)
- 18mg (Non-menstruating women)
- 18mg (males with no history of anemia)
Vitamin C – 500mg
Vitamin B12 – 500-1,000 mcg sublingual pill
Some specific vitamins do not mix well with one another. For instance, it is required to take Iron and Calcium separately because they counteract each other and can hinder the absorption of Iron if taken at the same time.
- Calcium Citrate with Vitamin D: Vitamin D aids calcium absorption in the body.
- Iron with Vitamin C: They complement one another and are best absorbed in the body. Vitamin C helps absorb iron into the body.
Gummy vitamins are budget-friendly, but you need to research and find the best quality vitamins for your body. Quality matters. These vitamins are full of artificial food dyes, fillers, and preservatives. These vitamins are convenient but not always nutritionally beneficial. The disadvantages include added sugars, artificial sweeteners, and citric acid, which is detrimental to the enamel.
Why should I take Vitamins After Bariatric Surgery?
Let’s dive into the repercussions you are more likely to experience if you do not take the right vitamins after weight loss surgery.
1. Thiamine Deficiency
Nausea and vomiting are common after gastric sleeve and gastric bypass surgery. Vitamin B1/Thiamine helps relieve nausea and vomiting issues. Healthy foods that contain Thiamine include legumes (chickpeas, lentils, beans), whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, and oats), and salmon.
Symptoms include nerve damage, loss of appetite, fatigue, irritability, tingling arms and legs, blurry vision, brain fog, nausea, and vomiting.
2. Zinc Deficiency
Zinc is essential for boosting an excellent immune system. After surgery, it is crucial to take 15mg of Zinc daily to prevent nutritional deficiencies.
Wholesome foods that are rich in zinc include meat (beef, lamb, and pork), shellfish (oyster, crab, shrimp, and mussel), legumes (chickpeas, lentils, beans), seeds (hemp, pumpkin, squash, sesame seeds), nuts (peanuts, cashews, and almonds), dairy (cheese and milk), eggs, whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, and oats).
Symptoms include diarrhea, slow wound healing, the common cold, skin ulcers, weak immune system, skin rash, and vision problems.
3. Calcium Deficiency
Low calcium can cause low bone mass and risk for osteoporosis. Osteoporosis causes bones to become brittle and weak. It affects both men and women and commonly occurs when the creation of new bone can’t keep up with the loss of the old one.
It is natural to think of dairy when we think about calcium. But there are other sources of nutritious foods that are rich in Calcium. These include seeds (poppy, sesame, celery, and chia seeds), sardines and salmon, beans and lentils, leafy greens, and tofu. Dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese are good sources of calcium. Otherwise, calcium supplements are a great option.
Symptoms include numbness and tingling in the fingers, abnormal heart rhythm, brain fog, extreme fatigue, lack of energy, sluggish feeling, lack of focus, and forgetfulness.
4. Vitamin D Deficiency
Nowadays, people rarely spend time outdoors. This has become a significant cause of ongoing Vitamin D deficiency worldwide. It is crucial to take quality supplements to avoid any deficiencies.
Symptoms include loss of bone density (a significant contributor to osteoporosis and fractures), muscle weakness, fatigue, depression, hair loss, bone/back pain, and slow wound healing.
5. Vitamin C Deficiency
Vitamin C can easily be found in lemons, kiwis, and oranges. It is difficult to get enough Vitamin C through a diet alone. You improve your immune system by incorporating quality vitamin C foods and immunity.
Symptoms include tiredness, fatigue, mood swings, and slow healing wounds. The more extreme sign is “scurvy,” which causes bruising, dental problems, dry hair, dry skin, and anemia.
6. Iron Deficiency
Iron deficiency, known as anemia, occurs when hemoglobin is low in your red blood cells. Anemia is more common among RNY bypass patients as there is less absorption of food nutrients. When you have anemia, your body can’t get the proper amount of oxygen. Iron-rich foods include; spinach, broccoli, shellfish, red meat, turkey, legumes, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, tofu, and tuna.
Symptoms include fatigue, weakness, pale skin, cold hands and feet, headaches, irregular heartbeat, brittle nails, shortness of breath, and a tingling sensation in the legs.
7. Vitamin B12 Deficiency
After a gastric bypass or gastric sleeve, you do not produce enough gastric acids or intrinsic factor (IF) to absorb vitamin B12 properly. Both stomach acid and IF work to release B12 from food and assist with the absorption of the vitamin. For this reason, a B12 supplement is needed.
It is challenging to get enough vitamin B12 from foods that contain B12, such as beef, chicken, fish, etc. B12 is one of the most critical vitamins to take for the rest of your life because even people who consume enough meat are deficient in it.
Symptoms include irritability, lack of energy, fatigue, heart palpitations, depression, and headaches.
Beri-Beri is a disease caused by Vitamin B1 deficiency (Thiamine). Individuals who drink an excessive amount of alcohol are more likely to be deficient in thiamine. A diet consisting of primarily white rice or highly refined grains can also lead to this.
Symptoms include trouble walking, loss of sensation in hands and feet, loss of muscle function, tingling, and vomiting.
– Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome
Wernicke-Korsakoff is a brain disorder caused by Thiamine depletion. It can stem from excessive alcohol use, eating disorders, vomiting, or chemotherapy. The brain’s thalamus and hypothalamus become impaired.
Symptoms include disorientation, nystagmus (a vision condition), and memory loss.
Other Vitamin Supplements
1. Probiotic – Minimum of 50 billion CFU and as many strains as possible.
Probiotics are live microorganisms (the good bacteria) that your body needs. They help prevent and treat diarrhea and stomach issues caused by infections. They also improve the immune system and reduce inflammation and allergies.
Recommended Vitamins: Garden of Life, Ultimate Care
2. Digestive Enzyme – The digestive enzyme is a protein that helps break down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
You don’t have the same digestive enzymes post-surgery. Supplements can prevent nausea as well as increase the absorption of nutrients.
Recommended Vitamins: NOW Foods, Digest Ultimate
3. Biotin – 3,000 mcg/day (Optional for Hair loss)
It supports the immune system, promotes heart health, regulates metabolism levels, and stimulates keratin production in hair, increasing follicle growth.
Recommended Vitamins: Thorne Research, Pure Encapsulations. There are many bariatric vitamin brands, so be sure to make comparisons between brands and make wise decisions!