Required Supplementation Following Bariatric Surgery

protein-shakes (1)Bariatric surgery is a major event in a patient’s weight-loss journey, but the event is best seen as a new beginning. Surgery with good aftercare and moderate lifestyle changes can give wonderful long-term results for health and weight. One of the requirements after surgery includes the need for lifelong daily supplements. Lifelong supplements are required to prevent nutrient deficiencies.

The need for supplementation arises from the following:

  1. The bariatric procedure is restricting how much you are able to consume. This restriction results in an inability to consume all the necessary nutrients via your food.
  2. The bariatric procedure may be malabsorptive. This means that even though you are consuming nutritious food, your body’s ability to absorb all the nutrients is inhibited.
  3. A combination of the two above.

There are several supplements required and many others that may be recommended. Typically, the required nutrients are:

  • B-12: must be in one of these forms – sublingual (under the tongue), intramuscular (a shot) or intranasal (spray into the nostrils).
  • Calcium: must be in the citrate form.
  • Complete multivitamin/mineral supplement with iron: usually two per day. If your supplement does not contain iron, you must take separate iron.
  • Protein shakes: whey protein isolate is best absorbed/utilized by the body. This is generally temporary for 2-6 weeks after surgery, depending on physician.

This list includes the typical required nutrients, however, your physician or dietitian may direct you to take additional supplements and/or decrease the amount of a supplement.

The important thing to remember about supplementation is that it is required for life. You run the risk of deficiency and its related side-effects if you quit supplementing. Your surgeon will monitor your lab work, which is why your annual follow-up visits are vital.

Life after bariatric surgery is not all easy, but strong planning, appropriate education, and determination can help as you make this journey.

For more information about bariatric surgery offered at Emory Bariatrics, call 404-778-7777 or visit emoryhealthcare.org/emorybariatrics.

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