Navigating the Vitamin Aisle Before and After Bariatric Surgery

If you have had weight loss surgery such as gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, lap-band® or duodenal switch; you may have found yourself at the local market standing in aisle full of supplements with a look of confusion over your face. Who knew that there could be so many vitamins to choose from? You pick up a bottle and you start squinting to read the tiny little numbers so you can be sure that you pick the “right” one. The more bottles you pick up the more the teensy weensy numbers start to laugh at you and then you start to think….what am I looking for??

Don’t worry! You are not alone. Some weight loss surgery programs make it simple… you get what they are selling. Others are not so obvious. So what supplements or vitamins should you buy if you have had weight loss or bariatric surgery? And why are supplements (vitamins and minerals) so important anyway?

Weight loss surgery procedures help you lose weight by helping you to eat less. If you are eating less food, you are not getting enough nutrients such as vitamins and minerals into your body. Thus, the reason you need to take supplements. Some procedures such as the gastric bypass or duodenal switch can cause some nutrients to not be as well absorbed so you need to take extra to allow your body to compensate for this.

Here are three things to consider when you are searching for your vitamin and mineral supplements before weight loss surgery.

Taste. Since you will be chewing or drinking your vitamins the first few months after surgery, taste is important. If you don’t like the way it tastes, you are not likely to take it as often as you are supposed to. The best multivitamin out there is the one that you actually take. It is a good idea to do a taste test before you have surgery.

Chewable or liquid? It’s up to you! Don’t forget the do-it-yourself taste test. If you are in a pinch and you only have a regular pill that is not liquid or chewable, you can take it by using a pill splitter or crusher and mixing it up with some sugar-free yogurt. As a side note, if you plan on cutting or crushing any medications, please check with a pharmacist first!

What is in it? Ideally, you need a “complete” multivitamin, but since multivitamins do not have a standard definition (i.e. they do not have to have a certain number or amount of vitamins) sometimes the labeling is confusing. Many vitamins on the shelf claim that they are “complete.” Refer to our previous post on the Vitamins: Knowing the A’s thru Z’s after Weight Loss Surgery to help find what you should be looking for.

And last but not least, don’t let the daunting task of finding a supplement overwhelm you. What is the most important thing with supplements? To take them! To stay healthy, supplements will be needed every day for the rest of your life after you have had weight loss surgery. Seek the advice of your surgeon and dietitian if you still aren’t sure which one works best for you. We are here to help!


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