Vitamins and minerals are unfortunately not at the top of the American consciousness, and the reality is many of the foods we eat do not provide the nutrition we need to stay healthy. In fact, many Americans are deficient in several critically important vitamins and nutrients including protein, vitamin D, vitamin B12, calcium and fiber. With a reduced caloric intake after bariatric surgery and a significantly smaller stomach to boot, it can become even harder to get the vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy. As such, we monitor your levels periodically after surgery.
The degree to which you may need to supplement will depend on the procedure you undergo. Typically, purely restrictive procedures such as the gastric sleeve require less supplementation than a combination restrictive and malabsorption procedure like the gastric bypass or duodenal switch. Gastric sleeve patients will need to take a multivitamin for the rest of their lives and supplementation for other vitamins and minerals will be prescribed based on the results of routine bloodwork. Gastric bypass patients will also require a daily multivitamin but may also need a vitamin B-12, iron, and vitamin D supplement.
While it may seem like a chore to take these extra vitamins, it is important to remember how important appropriate vitamin levels are to the body. As an example, vitamin D, is necessary for the proper absorption of calcium. Calcium, in turn, is essential to maintaining bone mass and bone health. Therefore, if you have a deficiency of vitamin D, which most Americans have, you may be doing harm to your bones. Further, vitamin D has a proven effect on the mind, including reducing the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Therefore, proper vitamin supplementation really can make a big difference in your life.
Similarly, getting enough protein is a huge part of the bariatric process. You will not have very much space in your stomach, so what we put in there needs to be impactful. Protein is not only great for healing, but it will also help increase your muscle mass and keep you feel full for longer. You will be directed on how to supplement your normal eating diet with protein either occurring naturally in foods or via a supplement or shake.
Vitamins and minerals can have a profound effect on how you feel and how your body performs after bariatric surgery. Supplementation should not be taken lightly and must become a routine in your life. Even if you feel great, maintaining your supplementation regimen is an important part achieving and maintaining your goals after your surgery.
You’ve seen that proper hydration and vitamin and mineral supplementation make a big difference not only in your body but also in your mind. It’s important to discuss psychological considerations after bariatric surgery and we do so next.