Bariatric Vitamins
Gastric Lap-Band patients should take them too!

Bariatric vitamins aren't just for bypass patients.

You may already know malabsorptive types of weight loss surgeries such as gastric bypass (and duodenal switch) result in the need for lifelong supplementation.

Gastric lap-band patients need vitamins too!

(Skip the explanation and find out what bariatric vitamins you need to take.)

Although it might not seem as obvious, you can also develop nutrient deficiencies with a restrictive bariatric procedure such as the gastric banding surgery due to a lower food intake.

It's difficult to get all the nutrients you need from food alone when you can only eat a limited amount.

Iron and B vitamin deficiencies are commonly reported in gastric band patients. Poor bone health is also a risk if you don't get adequate amounts of calcium.

Gastric lap-band patients often have trouble eating beef, pork, lamb, and sometimes poultry after surgery. These foods all contain iron, as do enriched cereals, pastas and rice which are often not tolerated after surgery. The lost iron can easily be replaced with properly formulated bariatric supplements.

Doing so just may save you from feeling tired and sluggish, losing your hair, or trying to make a comeback from anemia. It's easier to prevent nutrient deficiencies than to try to recover once you have one.

Getting adequate calcium can also be a challenge after weight loss surgery because your intake is restricted. If you weren't a milk drinker prior to surgery, chances are you won't become one after surgery. If you were a milk drinker prior to surgery, you may find it difficult to keep up the habit, especially if you were drinking it with meals. NO EATING AND DRINKING AT THE SAME TIME according to the gastric band diet guidelines.

Read more about the Post Gastric Lap-Band Surgery Diet.

If you're planning on getting all the calcium you need from foods like cheese or cottage cheese (good protein sources too), you'd need 2 ounces of cheese and 3/4 cup cottage cheese daily. It's certainly possible, but could get a bit monotonous.

Which bariatric vitamins do I need?

  • Multivitamin
  • Calcium
  • (Possibly Iron, but don't just take it blindly. Have your blood checked to determine if it's necessary.)

Chewable vitamins vs. tablets/capsules

The form of vitamins and minerals you take is very important.

In the case of iron, for example, iron tablets are awful for gastric band patients. They can have trouble passing the narrow opening caused by the band and thus wind up sitting on top of the band causing irritation. A chewable form of iron is always a better choice than a tablet form.

Calcium supplements tend to be large, so you'll minimize the chance of obstructing the band with a chewable, liquid, or powder form.

Chewable multi vitamins are the only option in the few months after surgery as your new stomach heals. Once you feel like you're able to swallow a pill bigger than aspirin, you can switch to non-chewable mulitvitamins supplements if you want (but stick with chewable calcium and chewable iron if you need to take iron).

When to take your bariatric vitamins

You need a plan.

You've got a handful of vitamins to take and a small stomach that can't hold much at once. To top it off, some nutrients can't be taken together.

If you need to take iron, don't take your calcium with your iron supplement as the two interfere with one another. Calcium and iron should be taken at least two hours apart.

Good quality bariatric vitamins are essential

As a bariatric dietitian, it blows me away when I hear doctors recommending Flintstones or other "junior" vitamins. As a weight loss surgery patient, you have higher nutrient needs than an average adult...

...not the lower needs of a small child. The only redeeming quality of the junior vitamins that are often recommended is that they are chewable.

It makes more sense for weight loss surgery patients to take bariatric vitamin supplements specifically formulated for bariatric patients!

Which brand do I recommend?

Bariatric Advantage. Hands down.

Yes, you can find cheaper vitamins in the drugstore, but Bariatric Advantage vitamins are specifically formulated to meet the needs of LAP-BAND® patients. Why would you even want to take anything other?!

Lap Band Vitamin Schedule

Breakfast

1 Bariatric Advantage VitaBand Multivitamin and Mineral Formula
1 Bariatric Advantage Calcium Citrate

Lunch or Supper/Dinner

1 Bariatric Advantage VitaBand Multivitamin and Mineral Formula
1 Bariatric Advantage Calcium Citrate

If you're not a good pill taker, or seem to "never remember" to take your vitamins, you'll need to vastly improve those habits!

Stock up BEFORE Surgery

Make sure your medicine cabinet is well stocked with all your bariatric vitamins before your surgery. You'll be experiencing a lot of emotions and lifestyle changes after surgery and remembering to order your vitamins can easily be the first thing to go. You should take all your vitamins once you're back to eating solid foods after surgery...

...and never stop. Don't forget that!!

Have your blood checked regularly

Taking properly formulated bariatric vitamins and having your blood checked regularly needs to be an important part of your life after gastric band weight loss surgery. I'd suggest checking 6 months after surgery and annually thereafter. Be sure to follow your bariatric center's guidelines.

Here's a list of the labwork you should ask to have checked:

Indicators of Iron Status

  • Hemoglobin (Hgb)
  • Ferritin
  • Transferrin
Indicators of B-Vitamin Status
  • Folate
  • Homocysteine
An Indicator of Bone Health
  • 25-Hydroxy Vitamin D

Note: Blood calcium levels do NOT reflect your calcium intake or your bone health. Unfortunately your bone health can't be assessed from any simple blood test. 25-Hydroxy Vitamin D provides useful information, but a more complex (and expensive) test called a DEXA bone scan is the best way to determine bone density. Consider having one done pre-surgery so you have a baseline test and then every few years (or as recommended based on your results) after surgery to monitor what your bones are doing.

My bariatric vitamin recommendations are simply intended to get you off on the right foot. Don't forget that you need to follow up regularly with you doctor to monitor your blood.

As I've said previously, it's much easier to prevent nutrient deficiencies than to try to dig yourself out of the hole once you have one. You're getting a second chance at life with your weight loss surgery. Take your health seriously along the way!

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