Vitamin Supplementation after Weight Loss Surgery
Supplementation after weight loss surgery is a very important part of your health and successful resolution of weight-related diseases. The degree to which you will have to supplement your diet with vitamins and nutrients largely depends on the procedure that you undergo. No matter the procedure, you will have to supplement, to a degree, immediately after surgery as you will be on a modified and restricted diet.
Gastric bypass patients will require the greatest degree of supplementation of any of the major bariatric procedures. This is because of the malabsorption due to bypassing part of the small intestine. Since the walls of the small intestine are very sensitive and therefore absorb nutrients, vitamins and calories, shrinking the surface area available drastically reduces nutritional absorption. This means that gastric bypass patients are more prone to nutritional deficiencies than are those who have undergone purely restrictive procedures such as gastric sleeve and gastric banding.
The supplements that are most often needed are
- Protein – you will have a plethora of protein options after surgery. It is important to consume the recommended daily allowance per your post-surgical instructions
- Iron – a deficiency can cause anemia with symptom such as fatigue and muscle pain
- Calcium – keeps bones, joints and teeth healthy
- Vitamin C – an essential vitamin for your immune system that also aids in healing
- Vitamin D – most often synthesized from sunlight, our bodies cannot use calcium without it
- Vitamin B12 – a deficiency can cause fatigue
Each of these nutrients has very specific functions in the body and a deficiency in any one of them can cause a host of other problems. As an example, one of the most important nutrients – protein – is necessary for healing and also allows a patient to lose more weight because its density makes it harder to digest. Because most bariatric procedures severely restrict food consumption, it becomes very difficult for the patient to eat enough protein through their diet alone. Most often, patients will turn to protein shakes to fill the gap.
Patients will visit our office several times after the procedure and they will be tested to make sure that they have no nutritional deficiencies. That combined with a comprehensive supplementation plan provided by our surgeons and dietitian should mean that each patient will receive the level of nutrition that is necessary to maintain healthy weight loss.
While many patients will be able to taper off their supplementation, it is not recommended that they eliminate it entirely. While too much supplementation can be a bad thing, it’s also important that deficiencies do not arise. Patients who keep a food journal are more likely to consume the nutrients they need every day. Smart phone applications are particularly useful, offering a snapshot of nutritional intake on any given day. Further, sticking to the plan created by our support team and working closely with your dietitian or nutritionist to develop and modify the plan on a regular basis can help keep proper supplementation on track.