The Who, What, When, Where, and Why of Vitamins

The importance of vitamins after weight loss surgery cannot be stressed enough. Vitamins should be a main topic to talk to your providers about with weight loss surgery. This article gives a rundown of the basics of vitamins. This is intended as a resource, but you should ask your dietitian about questions over vitamins or minerals you have.

Who

Everyone needs vitamins. The importance of vitamins after weight loss surgery is greater than in the average person. They are a key part of helping the body work how it should. Weight loss surgery makes a person eat less. Smaller portions after surgery cannot meet the vitamin needs. This is why weight loss patients are given vitamins after surgery. You will never stop taking vitamins after surgery. Regular care can help catch the signs of low vitamins.

What

The type of vitamin you take is important. There are many brands and types of vitamins, but not all of them will work for a person after weight loss surgery. Some types of vitamins to avoid include:

  • Gummy vitamins
  • Vitamins with a coating
  • Vitamin patches

All of these are not absorbed well and can lead to low levels. This can happen even if you are taking them every day. A vitamin that is a capsule or a chewable is going to be better. There are also special weight loss vitamins that are better absorbed by the body after weight loss surgery. Your healthcare team can give you more information on these options.

When

The timing of vitamins after weight loss surgery is important as well.  For example, calcium and iron should not be taken at the same time. They bind when calcium and iron are paired. This means they are not taken in as well by the body. Other medications may also affect how the body uses vitamins. Be sure to work with your healthcare team on the timing.

Where

There are a couple of different places to get vitamins. The important thing to keep in mind is the type. The kind of pill or capsule that you are taking makes a difference on how much your body can take in. Weight loss vitamins are necessary.

Why

When you do not have a good intake of vitamins, your health suffers. Your body does not work as it should without these vitamins. Each of the weight loss surgery options can affect vitamins in different ways. There are lab tests that can help catch any low levels of these vitamins before they become an issue, but it is important to know what can happen with low values. A couple examples of issues that may come up if vitamins are too low are listed below.

  • Vitamin B1: muscle weakness, swelling in legs and feet, nausea, vomiting, heart issues, tingling in fingers/hands, difficulty finding words or short term memory loss
  • Vitamin B12: fatigue, anemia, light-headedness, shortness of breath
  • Iron: fatigue, anemia, hair loss, decreased immune function, craving/eating non-food substances
  • Calcium: bone loss, muscle weakness, leg cramping
  • Vitamin D: bone loss, cramping, liver problems
  • Vitamin A: night blindness/eyesight issues and poor wound healing
  • Vitamin E: neurological issues, muscle weakness, anemia
  • Vitamin K: easy bruising or increased bleeding
  • Zinc: rashes, taste change, decreased immune function, infertility, hair loss or hair texture changes
  • Copper: Anemia, pale skin, cholesterol issues

Again, this information should not take the place of individual medical advice. This resource should be used for educational purposes only.