After a gastric bypass, you will not absorb vitamins and minerals from food as well as you used to. That’s because part of the small intestine is bypassed, and that is where we absorb most of our nutrients. Therefore, you will need to take a multivitamin supplement every day for the rest of your life.
What You’ll Need:
multivitamin supplement of your choice
The American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery says that after a gastric bypass, we need to take a multivitamin supplement that provides us with 200% of the recommended daily allowance of most vitamins and minerals. Read the labels carefully on any multivitamin you are considering to see how much of the various vitamins and minerals it provides. With most brands, you will need to take two tablets per day in order to get 200%. However, with some brands you may need more than two per day.
Many doctors and dieticians recommend chewable vitamins, at least in the first few weeks or months after surgery. Some say they will be absorbed better. In addition, large pills that you swallow may get stuck in the narrow opening between your new pouch and your small intestine, especially in the early days when you have a lot of swelling. Talk to your doctor about whether or not you need a chewable multivitamin.
There are bariatric vitamins designed specifically for people who have had gastric bypass surgery. However, read the label carefully, even it says the vitamins are designed for gastric bypass patients. They fact that they are marketed to bariatric patients does not guarantee the vitamins are really suitable for gastric bypass patients. A couple good brands include Bariatric Advantage and Celebrate. Both these companies will send you free samples if you email them so you can try them before you buy.
Watch out for “all in one” bariatric vitamins like Optisource and Bariatric Fusion, which tell you all you will need is four of these tablets per day. They say you will not need to take any additional calcium or iron or B12 with them, but that is not true. You can use these vitamins for a multivitamin if you wish, but in order to get the 200% of nutrients that are recommended by the ASMBS, you would need to take eight per day, not four. And they contain the wrong kind of calcium, so you would need to take additional calcium supplements, as well.
Some people just use a regular multivitamin like Centrum. However, these vitamins may be low in some key vitamins and minerals. For instance, Centrum is low on biotin. Chewable Centrum also has no selenium. So if you use one of these vitamins, you should supplement it with extra biotin and selenium. Read the label carefully to see if it the vitamin you choose will provide you with all the nutrients you need or if you will need to take additional supplements.
Avoid children’s vitamins like Flintstones. If you read the label, you will see that they will not provide you will 200% of most nutrients as recommended by the ASMBS, even if you take two or three a day. In addition, children’s vitamins usually contain beta carotene as their source of vitamin A. Beta carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body, but it takes a lot of beta carotene to make just a little vitamin A, and for some reason children make the conversion more efficiently than adults. Therefore, you may not get sufficient vitamin A from taking a children’s vitamin, even if the label makes it look like you will.
Avoid gummy vitamins, even those made for adults. They usually contain relatively low levels of most vitamins and minerals, and most contain no copper, zinc, or selenium.
American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. http://www.asbs.org/Newsite07/resources/bgs_final.pdf. Guidelines.