Jacqui Lewis - September 2021

What's All the Noise About Taking Vitamins After Weight Loss Surgery?

Here's why you'll want a specific multivitamin supplement every day for a healthy life after Bariatric Surgery.

Weight loss eludes the best of us. However, in some cases, the opportunity to escape the dieting roller coaster and the detrimental health effects of carrying excess weight - may come from Bariatric Surgery or Weight Loss Surgery (WLS).

The research on the effects of WLS indicates it is an excellent tool for reversing health conditions related to obesity, including insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis and more. But like with most things related to weight loss - nothing is for free!

 Once undertaken, Gastric Sleeve or Gastric Bypass Surgery comes with a few "rules" you'll need to stick to like glue. Ensuring your long term results are realised and your health is taken care of via on-point nutrition.

You'll hear these rules time and again but let's list them anyway!

Adequate healthy food

Prioritise protein 

DAILY SUPPLEMENTATION

What? Why would I need multivitamin and mineral supplements if my new diet and lifestyle are totally on point?
Your bariatric surgeon and dietitian will tell you; the surgery's job is to bring about weight loss via malabsorption and restriction (calorie deficit). But, unfortunately, this also means there's a higher risk of nutritional deficiencies or malnutrition.
There are some essential nutrients you'll need to monitor for the rest of your life after the surgery, as malabsorption is a permanent change to your body.

The American Society Of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) notes in the "Weight Loss Surgery Guidelines" document.
 The critical nutrients affected by any form of bariatric surgery include:

  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Iron deficiency or Anaemia (up to 48% of WLS are iron deficient within the first year)
  • Vitamin D3 
  • Calcium deficiency

Bypass patients need to monitor fat-soluble Vitamins A, D, E and Vitamin K also.

The absorption and transport of the above nutrients are impacted directly by the surgical procedure. In addition, other nutritional deficiencies may come about linked to the limited room in your new tummy to accommodate enough food to meet your needs every day.

So - why is it essential to get this right?

Why can't we take any old multivitamin and mineral supplements from the chemist or supermarket?
It's essential to get your supplements right, so you prevent things like:

  • Nutritionally Related Hair Loss
  • Fatigue
  • Brain Fog 
  • Sore swollen tongue / cracked lips/ ulcers
  • Poor immunity, slow wound healing and poor skin health
  • Memory Loss
  • Osteoporosis due to calcium deficiency
  • Overall Feeling Poorly, and in extreme situations - neurological damage such as parathesis or loss of function and feeling.

Bariatric multivitamin supplements such as BN Multi are formulated based on the ASMBS guidelines.

Taking the right nutritional supplements every day plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy levels and averting deficiencies after WLS.
(ASMBS, 2018)

Your multivitamin and mineral supplement is your health insurance policy! Obese patients search for a better quality of life and improve their longevity, vitality and health. Daily and specific supplementation is the key to reaping these benefits over the long term.

What Happens if I Don't Take a Bariatric Multi?

Gastric sleeve and bypass patients who opt out of supplementation generally report they "feel ok" and can't see what they are missing. However, about two years into the journey, cracks may start to form, as their body has essentially been running on empty - long enough to have considerable impacts on health.

Once this point is reached, a catch-up operation begins! A tedious slog of doctor’s visits for iron infusions, Vitamin B12 injections, and blood monitoring follows. The dream of losing weight and feeling fabulous feels further away once again.

I Keep Forgetting To Take My WLS Multi - What Can I Do?

Hopefully, more profound knowledge of why Bariatric Multis are so important will help you make the daily exercise of taking them higher on your to-do list to keep you on track every day.

Here are some practical things to put in place to instil the habit from the beginning.

1. Download our BN AWESOME APP, and set yourself two reminders each day at a time to know you have your multis on hand. They are best taken with food - so perhaps aim for breakfast and dinner as we tend to be home for those meals more often.

2. Visual cues are critical - keep the bottle in a place you often visit, so you are reminded:

Kitchen bench

Office or workspace

Bathroom

Where you watch TV or relax

3. If you buy our handy three-pack multis - you can plant bottles in conspicuous places to set yourself up for success (e.g. 1 in the bathroom and 1 in the kitchen).
** In Winter, your multis will be ok in the car. In Summer, the vitamin B group will get damaged by the heat.

 4. Set yourself up with portion management lunch boxes and our BN Shaker (includes 2 storage & 1 pill container)
Or try our handy BN Water Bottle with the room of seven days of multis on the side - wherever water goes, your supplements will also go!

Until you are totally on board with the feeling that you deserve good health, or important enough to be at the top of your priorities list, you might find you “forget” or “can’t” or “will try to do it better next week”.

When this happens regularly with self-care, it’s good to reach out for some support from a counsellor, psychologist or coach to refine your beliefs to match the health and weight loss goal you have set for yourself.

WLS is a big step - but it is only really a tool to help reverse the impacts that living in a larger body can have. When Bariatric supplementation is done right, you are not swapping one lot of health problems for just a set of different issues linked to malnutrition or malabsorption brought about by the bariatric procedures.

It's for life - for YOUR life.

Jacqui Lewis
BHSc Nutritional And Dietetic Medicine

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