In the weeks leading up to bariatric surgery, and as part of a healthier lifestyle after the procedure, your body needs certain vitamins. Because your food intake will lessen dramatically, you may not be getting the required daily intake of these nutrients.

Vitamin deficiencies can lead to a number of health issues. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to night blindness, dry skin, and even affect fertility. A lack of vitamin D can lead to cardiovascular issues, bone health, immune function, and even some kinds of cancer.

Although many foods high in vitamins and other nutrients are still accessible months after a procedure, you may not be able to meet daily vitamin requirements. Fish, dairy products, and vegetables like broccoli are all nutrient-rich–but you just won’t be able to eat enough of those foods to get the vitamins you need.

What is Vitamin D?

Also known as calciferol, vitamin D can be produced by the body simply by being outside on a sunny day. According to the National Institutes of Health, vitamin D is produced in the body “when ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis.“

Certain foods are also rich in vitamin D, with tuna, egg yolks, beef liver, and broccoli leading the list. However, depending on the amount of those foods you eat–or the amount of outdoor time you get–your body may still need vitamin D supplements. A lack of vitamin D can lead to serious health issues, especially in bariatric patients.

Vitamin D is necessary to keep your bones strong and to help with bone regeneration. A deficiency can lead to osteoporosis (a weakening of the bones). When bones become brittle, they are more susceptible to breaks or fractures.

However, it is possible to get too much vitamin D, especially as a supplement. Known as “vitamin D toxicity,” Excessive amounts of vitamin D can lead to hypercalcemia, which in turn leads to nausea, muscle weakness, dehydration, and even renal failure. As with any health directives, make sure to follow guidelines set by your doctor or licensed registered dietitian.

Vitamin Deficiencies After Bariatric Surgery

There are many reasons why you might consider a gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, or duodenal switch weight loss procedure. Either you’ve been living a sedentary lifestyle for years, have poor eating habits, or even have emotional issues that prevent you from living a more healthy life.

There will be an adjustment period–both mentally and physically–as you transition from your old lifestyle to a healthier way of life. Physically speaking, you won’t be able to eat as much, and how your body digests food will change dramatically. However, your body will adapt to a lower intake of food relatively quickly.

The body goes through other changes as well, apart from the obvious changes that have been made. After bariatric surgery, your body doesn’t absorb vitamins and other nutrients as it once did. That’s why taking supplements, such as Bariatric  Vitamin D capsules, are so important.

The National Institute for Health states “Obese individuals who have undergone gastric bypass surgery can also become vitamin D deficient. In this procedure, part of the upper small intestine, where vitamin D is absorbed, is bypassed, and vitamin D that is mobilized into the bloodstream from fat stores might not raise to adequate levels.”

Is Bariatric Vitamin D Different from Over The Counter Vitamin D?

If you’ve ever been to a pharmacy or down the medication aisle of the grocery store, we’re sure you’ve noticed the number of different vitamins and supplements available. So you may be wondering if there’s any difference between bariatric vitamins and other vitamins.

Vitamins aren’t naturally produced in the body, so we need to get them from a different source. The foods we eat are chock full of these nutrients. But because patients with bariatric procedures will be eating less, you will need supplements and other products to ensure your body gets what it needs.

Bariatric vitamins have higher doses to prevent vitamin and mineral deficiencies. OTC vitamins are produced for the general population and not for the specific needs of bariatric patients. For example, some bariatric vitamins contain up to 10,000 IU of a vitamin (international units) per capsule while general vitamins may contain less than 1,000 IU.

When is Bariatric Vitamin D Required?

In the days leading up to a procedure, and for a few weeks after surgery, you may need to increase your vitamin D intake. Your pre-op diet will consist of vitamins and other supplements if you are deficient and as you begin to prepare the body for your newer, healthier diet.

The first two weeks after bariatric surgery, you will be limited to hydrating fluids and low-carb protein supplements. No solid foods are allowed at this time and vitamins won’t be taken until two weeks after surgery. That’s why it is so important to make sure you aren’t vitamin deficient before the procedure..

Unlike a normal multivitamin regime where a missed day would go unnoticed, missing your daily intake of bariatric vitamins can make you feel sluggish, lethargic, and unable to concentrate. If you’ve had a gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, or duodenal switch procedure, it’s vitally important to follow your diet guidelines during the critical times immediately after the surgery.

Gastric Sleeve – With this bariatric surgery, approximately 70-80% of your stomach is removed. Because your stomach is so much smaller, you will not be able to eat or drink as much as you once did. Your body will adapt to the smaller stomach relatively quickly and you’ll begin to feel fewer hunger pangs or need to snack.

Gastric Bypass – The stomach is again divided in two, including a small “pouch” that limits food intake. Food then passes into a small segment of the small intestine. The larger part of the stomach that is left behind never sees food again.

Duodenal Switch – In this procedure, the stomach is again made smaller (similar to a gastric sleeve) along with altering the small intestine. Food won’t be absorbed as much as it is with the sleeve, so vitamins and supplements are even more important with this surgery.

So if you’re looking for vitamins that are specifically made for those that have had a gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, duodenal switch, or other procedure, make sure to read the labels. They will either be labeled as such or will have a higher amount of IU per capsule and a very high percentage of the daily value. Please contact your dietitian if you have any questions about bariatric vitamins.

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