Supplementation Post Surgery
Updated: Jul 10, 2020
It is absolutely essential to take vitamin and mineral supplementation following weight loss surgery. If you commit to the surgery, you also need to commit to the supplementation life long.
Many people believe that as long as they have a good diet they won't require supplementation, however this is simply not the case. No matter how good your nutritional intake is you still need supplementation because:
Even though you may have great diet quality, you simply cannot eat the same quantity of food that you used to in order to meet the required amounts of vitamin and minerals that you need.
The way vitamins and minerals are processed in the body has now been forever changed. Many nutrients are no longer absorbed as well so you need to take extra to account for this.
Because of these reasons, weight loss surgery puts you at a much greater risk of developing vitamin and mineral deficiencies compared to the general public. Untreated vitamin and mineral deficiencies can have nasty side effects such as anaemia, osteoporosis and poor eyesight, which is why it is so important to ensure you are providing your body with the supplemental nutrition it needs.
Rates of Vitamin & Mineral Deficiencies
Research has shown the following rates of deficiencies in post weight loss surgery patients - (just to name a few!):
Iron deficiency in up to 55% of bypass patients and 18% of sleeve patients
Vitamin B12 deficiency in up to 20% of bypass and sleeve patients
Vitamin D deficiency in up to 100% of bypass and sleeve patients
Zinc deficiency in up to 40% of bypass patients and 19% of sleeve patients
Vitamin A deficiency in up to 70% of bypass patients
Folate deficiency in up to 65% of bypass and sleeve patients
(Source: American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Integrated Health Nutritional Guidelines for the Surgical Weight Loss Patient 2016 Update: Micronutrients)
Remember: some vitamin and mineral deficiencies become more prevalent 2, 3, and even 5 years down the track. This is why it is important to not get complacent after a few good blood test results immediately after surgery - this doesn't mean you're in the clear! You still need to take your supplements and have your levels routinely checked long term.
Following weight loss surgery it is generally advised you take 2x good quality multivitamins/day (e.g. BN Multi / Centrum) as well as extra Calcium and Vitamin D each day (e.g. Citracal Plus D) (as no multivitamin has a high enough dose of Calcium and Vitamin D in it). It is important to note that not all supplements are created equally and are appropriate for post weight loss surgery. Your Dietitian will be able to advise you on specific brands that will be best for you and adjust your dosage based on your individual situation and requirements.
It is important to then have your bloods checked regularly and your supplementation regime reviewed and adjusted by your Dietitian to address any deficiencies which you may have developed. You can read more about blood test requirements here. If you do develop a deficiency your Dietitian will advise you on what extra supplementation you will require to address this.