After a gastric bypass, you will not absorb vitamins and minerals from your food as well as you used to. That is because part of the small intestine is bypassed with this surgery, and the small intestine is where we absorb most of the vitamins and minerals from our food. For this reason, the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery recommends gastric bypass patients begin taking an iron supplement the day after their surgery and continue taking one for life.
What You’ll Need
an iron skillet for cooking, if desired
iron supplement of your choice
You should eat a variety of iron-rich foods each day, including lean red meats, poultry, seafood, egg yolks, greens (like kale, collard greens, and spinach), broccoli, dried fruits, and beans.
Cooking food in an iron skillet may increase the amount of iron in your food. The increase may not be very significant, though. But this is an easy way to add a bit more iron to your daily diet.
The ASMBS recommends taking 18 – 27 mg of iron per day in addition to the iron you get from your daily diet. Iron supplements come in several forms, including tablets that you swallow, chewable tablets, and liquids. They recommend taking an iron supplement in addition to whatever iron you may get from your multivitamin. You should start taking your iron supplement the day after your surgery.
Taking your iron supplement with 250 – 500 mg of vitamin C will help it be absorbed better.
Do not take your iron with calcium. This includes both calcium supplements and foods high in calcium, like dairy products. The calcium interferes with the absorption of the iron. If there is calcium in your multivitamin, do not take your iron along with your multivitamin. Iron should be taken at least two hours away from any calcium. If your multivitamin has both calcium and iron in it, be aware that you may not absorb the iron and may need to take an additional iron supplement.
You should have regular blood tests to check your iron. In fact, your blood should be tested before your gastric bypass, and then every three months for the first year. After that, your blood should be tested every six – twelve months. Several tests should be done to look at your iron levels, including total iron, ferritin, and transferrin. Your iron supplements may need to be increased, based on the results of your blood tests.
American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. http://www.asbs.org/Newsite07/resources/bgs_final.pdf. ASMBS Guidelines.