The Vitamins You Need After Weight Loss Surgery

Vitamins are a key part of your post-operative care — learn what supplements you should take after bariatric surgery and why.

On the surface, post-operative care after bariatric surgery is pretty straightforward. You should take it easy and allow your body to recover for about six weeks, follow a strict post-operative diet, and slowly incorporate exercise into your daily routine. This sounds like a great plan for weight loss success, but it’s missing one crucial step — vitamins. Vitamins are key to keeping your body healthy and strong after bariatric surgery, but which ones should you take?

The Importance of Vitamins After Weight Loss Surgery

During weight loss surgery, your surgeon makes your stomach smaller so that you’ll naturally consume less food. This helps you lose 60 to 80 percent of your excess weight in a short period of time, but it also changes how your body absorbs vitamins and minerals. It’s harder to get all of the nutrients you need from food when you’re eating less of it, and certain types of surgery, like gastric bypass, change your digestive tract so that it’s more difficult to absorb the nutrients you do get from food.

As such, it’s common for weight loss surgery patients to suffer from a vitamin deficiency because they haven’t accounted for this change. The side effects of a vitamin deficiency can be mild like dry skin or uneven sleep, or more serious like muscle weakness and bone pain. Taking supplements can help you compensate for the micronutrients you might not be getting from your meals, which keeps your body strong and contributes to your overall health.

What Vitamins Should I Take?

Before we get into which vitamins you should take, it’s helpful to go over which ones you shouldn’t. This includes vitamins with added sugar. Gummy vitamins might be tasty and easy to take, but they often contain sugars you don’t need and have fewer nutrients than expected.

Now, here are some key vitamins you should add to your post-operative diet:

  • A complete multivitamin — A multivitamin is an important first step, and then you can supplement with additional pills in specific areas. Look for a multivitamin with at least 200% of the recommended daily intake for all of the vitamins and minerals listed on the label.
  • Vitamin B12 — B12 helps your body make new blood cells and protects your central nervous system. Take at least 500 mg per day.
  • Calcium — A calcium deficiency can cause memory loss, numbness, and muscle spasms if left unaddressed. It’s unlikely that you’ll get your daily recommended intake of calcium from eating dairy products alone, so find a supplement that contains at least 1500 mg.
  • Vitamin D — Many bariatric patients don’t realize they have a vitamin D deficiency because the common symptoms, bone pain and muscle weakness, are similar to those they experience in post-op. Keep your vitamin D levels up by taking a 15-20 mg supplement daily.
  • Iron — The majority of people in the United States don’t get enough iron. Iron helps your body create healthy red blood cells that bring oxygen to your organs, and it also promotes healthy hair, skin, and nails. You should aim for 18 mg of iron per day, or 45-60 mg if you have a preexisting iron deficiency. You can also take a vitamin C supplement to aid the absorption of iron.

The above vitamins are just the basic requirements. You’ll need to sort out the particulars of your regimen — dosage, brand, the combination of supplements, etc. — by talking to your doctor and bariatric counselor about your dietary needs.

Lose Weight and Stay Strong

If you need help creating a vitamin supplement regimen, contact the weight loss professionals at Long Island Laparoscopic Doctors today! Our licensed nutritionists and bariatric counselors will work with you to create a plan that puts you on the right track toward a healthier, stronger you.