Foodie-sentials: What Vitamins Should Adjustable Gastric Band Patients Take?

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Adjustable Gastric Band (sometimes known as “Lap band”) patients need to take daily vitamins because they can’t eat large enough amounts of food to get all the nutrients they need. It’s very important to take your vitamins every day in order to prevent serious nutritional deficiencies, like anemia. Here’s what the ASMBS has to say:
  • One adult multivitamin, containing 100% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of at least 2/3 of all nutrients, including 18 mg iron and minerals like zinc and selenium
  • 1500 mg calcium citrate (not calcium carbonate), divided into three doses of about 500 mg each, taken at least two hours apart
  • B-50 complex is optional
Now, all multivitamins are not created equal. Some post-ops tell me they have been told to take children’s multivitamins (especially ones shaped like certain beloved cartoon characters). But the ASMBS says you shouldn’t rely on children’s vitamins or gummy vitamins (I know… bummer!). They don’t have all the vitamins and minerals an adult needs, especially after having weight loss surgery.

There are multivitamins made especially for weight loss surgery patients. Some reputable bariatric vitamin companies include Bariatric Advantage, Celebrate, and Building Blocks, but it’s not necessary to use one of those. Any adult multivitamin that has 100% of the RDA of most things will be fine.

If your multivitamin doesn’t have at least 18 mg of iron, the ASMBS recommends that you take an additional iron supplement. Menstruating women may need additional iron anyway, because they lose iron each month when they menstruate. Women are not the only ones that need iron, though; men need some iron, too.

Not taking a multivitamin regularly can lead to all sorts of vitamin and mineral deficiencies. A lack of iron can cause anemia, which makes you tired, weak and dizzy, and also causes headaches and restless leg syndrome.

Make sure your calcium supplement contains calcium citrate, not calcium carbonate or tricalcium phosphate. Calcium citrate, the kind of calcium recommended by the ASMBS, is absorbed more easily so you’ll get the full benefit of the calcium you take. Take your calcium at least two hours away from your iron, because calcium blocks the absorption of iron.

Not taking calcium, or taking the wrong kind, can lead to bone loss and osteoporosis.

You might need additional vitamins, like vitamin D3 or vitamin B12. You should have regular blood tests to see if you need any other vitamins.

Many lap band patients choose to use chewable vitamins, at least for a little while after their surgeries. The ASMBS says you can switch to vitamins that you swallow as soon as you can tolerate swallowing pills, if you prefer those to chewable vitamins. You will absorb either type of vitamin equally well. Keep in mind that most chewable calcium supplements found in stores contain calcium carbonate or tricalcium phosphate; if you want chewable calcium citrate, you’ll probably need to order it online.

Talk to your bariatric surgeon or registered dietician if you have questions about what vitamins you need. And do your research! Here’s a link to the full ASMBS Nutritional Guidelines for Bariatric Patients. It’s something we should all have access to!

This article was written by Kelly Morris for Bariatric Foodie


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