After a gastric bypass surgery, you’ll need to take a number of vitamin and mineral supplements for the rest of your life. That’s because part of your small intestine has been bypassed, so you no longer absorb nutrients as well as you did before the surgery. It’s vitally important to take your vitamin and mineral supplements faithfully, because serious health problems can result from vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Following are the most commonly recommended supplements. In addition to these, other supplements may be prescribed for you by your doctor based on the results of your blood tests. Blood work should be done periodically to make sure you are getting all the vitamins and minerals you need.
Most bariatric doctors and dietitians recommend you take a multivitamin twice daily. Chewable vitamins are usually recommended, as they are more easily absorbed. Also, especially right after your surgery, large vitamin tablets can get “stuck” if swallowed whole.
Centrum makes a chewable vitamin for adults, but I personally don’t like the taste of it. Both Celebrate and Bariatric Advantage make chewable vitamins specially designed for gastric bypass patients. I like the mandarin orange flavored ones from Celebrate.
Both Celebrate and Bariatric Advantage will send you free samples of their multivitamins and other nutritional supplements if you email them and ask. That way you can find the one you like best.
Some people take Flintstones children’s vitamins, since they are chewable. Some doctors and dietitians even recommend them. However, they are designed for children, not for adults, especially not adults who have malabsorbtion issues due to weight loss surgery. They will not provide the nutrients you need.
There are two kinds of calcium, calcium carbonate and calcium citrate. Calcium citrate is much more easily absorbed and it is the kind of calcium you should be taking. Make sure you read the label to make sure you are getting the right kind. Some people take Tums or a similar product for the calcium, but that is calcium carbonate, and won’t meet your nutritional needs.
You may have trouble finding calcium citrate in the grocery store. Health food stores will certainly have it, or you can order it online. Again, you can get free samples from Celebrate and/or Bariatric Advantage.
You should not take your calcium supplements with iron (if you are taking an iron supplement). They interfere with each other. Leave at least two hours time in between the two.
B vitamins are some other nutrients you won’t absorb as well after a gastric bypass. You’ll need to take a B-complex supplement. You can find these at any grocery store. They usually come in a tablet, but the smell and taste of the tablet upset my stomach. I found some B-complex vitamins in a capsule from Bariatric Advantage. They are small capsules and have no smell or taste, and they sit much better with me.
B12 is another vitamin you won’t absorb as well. While a B-complex will contain some B12, it won’t be enough. You’ll need a B12 supplement as well.
B12 supplements come in many forms. There is a sublingual (under the tongue) form, which you dissolve under your tongue each day. There is a nasal spray that you use once a week. There is also a patch, which is worn once a week for 24 hours. Finally, there are injections you can take once a month.
The body stores vitamin B12 for a long time, which is why some forms only need to be taken weekly or even monthly. You can choose whichever form is most convenient for you.
An iron supplement is recommended for menstruating women or anyone who shows signs of anemia on blood tests. Iron should be taken with vitamin C to aid absorption. Remember not to take your iron supplement along with your calcium supplement, but to leave at least two hours between the two.