Vitamins and Malabsorption

One of the downsides and risks that needs to be considered if you are thinking about gastric bypass as a weight loss surgery option is malabsorption. Part of what makes gastric bypass such a successful weight management tool is the malabsorptive aspect you get from the rerouting of the intestine as part of the procedure.

Not only is the size of the stomach reduced during a gastric bypass but the intestine is effectively shortened giving your body less capacity to absorb calories and nutrients. In terms of the initial weight loss and long-term maintenance this is great. There is though a risk long-term of you becoming deficient in certain vitamins and minerals and this can have very dire effects.

If you are at all considering gastric bypass surgery you need to immediately be prepared to take vitamins every day for the rest of your life. I’ll say it again every day for the rest of your life. Repeat after me, “Every day for the rest of my life.” That is a pretty big commitment right there.

The short point is if you neglect to take your vitamins and you start to become deficient in certain things really bad things can happen. Death being one of those really bad things. I do vaguely recall reading an article a few years ago about a New Zealander who passed away after weight loss surgery because of a failure to take vitamins post surgery.

I’m not going to go further into what can happen if you don’t take your vitamins after surgery because it’s not an option not to take them. All we need to remember is that they are absolutely essential and you need to keep on top of taking them.

At the moment I have two vitamin tablets a day and I take one in the morning and one at night. Because you have limited absorptive capacity spacing them out throughout the day may give your body a better chance of picking up everything it needs from the supplements. If I forget to take my one at night which I sometimes do, I will then take two the next morning and then another one at night. If there’s anything your body doesn’t need you will just pee it out anyway.

The other really important point I want to make about vitamins is please take whatever your surgical team has recommended for you. There is a reason why and they ultimately will recommend the best one for you so stick with it. Same goes for if they give you a schedule for when you should take them or any specific advice like that. Follow the advice of your team your life literally depends on it.

Is taking vitamins every day something you think you can do? Let me know in the comments below I’d love to hear from you!

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There are 6 comments for this article
  1. Nerida at 6:46 pm

    I take my vitamins every day religiously when I take my other medications and calcium supplements. I take my Vitamin D once a month as prescribed. I take the importance of taking these vitamin supplements as vital to my health and success since my gastric bypass. Thanks for your article. Another great one. xxx

  2. Nicola at 8:25 pm

    I know someone who has had the surgery and they struggle with B12 levels. She has shots and her GP keeps a close eye on them. I hadn’t heard the story about that person passing away – pretty sad and always so important to follow medical advice!

    • Melissa Peaks Author at 6:26 am

      It’s great that she;s being monitored, it’s necessary for something so essential. Yes it is a good reminder of that. Unfortunately after gastric bypass it’s something that you can’t forget or stop doing.

  3. Marlene at 9:28 pm

    Hi Melissa, I currently am struggling to up my iron and B12 levels, I have B12 shots every 4 weeks. Bronwen told me she is happy with my pre-op progress but have to get my levels up and have until Feb to do so. I was thinking about the bypass and do not have a problem with taking vitamins. My concern is if my body would cope since I have been struggling with B12 and iron for a long time due to taking Metformine 850mg 3x per day, which I stopped taking more than a year ago.. Did the doctors okayed 2 multivitamins at once? I’m just wondering as I have seen a warning on the website against doing so? Great advice on your blog. Thanks 🙂

    • Melissa Peaks Author at 6:30 am

      Hi Marlene, I think so long as it’s manageable you should be ok after surgery. Of course follow the advice of the team, they know what they are doing and always have your best interests at heart. I’m sure if they thought it could be problematic after surgery they wouldn’t do it for you. Yes the team have told me to take two vitamins a day. On the bottle it says not to take more than one a day but you have to keep in mind that’s for a normal person. With the bypass and how your digestive tract changes there’s no way you would be absorbing enough with one tablet alone hence why you need to take two. Thanks for reading I really appreciate it!

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