April 1, 2024

The Low Down: Vitamins after Sleeve Surgery

Embarking on a weight loss surgery journey, like sleeve gastrectomy, is an exciting and life changing step towards a healthier life. The surgery offers so many remarkable benefits and we want you to achieve all of them and more. It remains essential, however, to support yourself and your health by understanding the importance of post-surgical care – today, let’s chat about the intake of vitamins.

Why Vitamins Matter after Sleeve Surgery

After a sleeve gastrectomy, the body undergoes significant changes, especially in how it absorbs nutrients. The reduced stomach size limits food intake, fewer acid producing cells exist and the faster outflow of food out of the stomach can lead to mild nutritional deficiencies.

Vitamins become essential to avoid these deficiencies but in this context for several specific reasons:

  • Enhanced Healing: Vitamins aid in the healing process post-surgery.
  • Nutrient Absorption: Certain vitamins help in the absorption of other nutrients, which is critical due to the reduced capacity of the stomach.
  • Immune Support: They boost the immune system, helping your body prevent infections and recover faster.
  • Bone Health: Vitamins like D and calcium are vital for maintaining bone health, especially when your diet is restricted.

Over time the body does adapt to improve this change but we recommend vitamins be taken for life long good health.

Most sleeve gastrectomy patients start a regular vitamin regimen when they are eating a full liquid or pureed diet after surgery. This is typical by 2weeks, sometimes 3 weeks after surgery.

Here are a number of key things to remember about Vitamins after sleeve surgery:

- Look for “complete” multivitamins with minerals.

- Make sure to include folate or folic acid, iron, Vitamin B12, Zinc & Selenium

- Post Sleeve patients uniquely need additional supplements for Vitamin D, Calcium citrate and Vitamin B12

- When looking for calcium vitamins, make sure they are in the “citrate” form as this is the form best absorbed. Sometimes these can be found as liquids, powders, chewable tabs or even in “wafer” forms. Find one that has Vitamin D added to it.

- Typically 1200-1500 mg of calcium citrate a day is recommended but don’t take it all at once as it won’t get absorbed. Take it in 600mg doses.

- Look for Vitamin D 400-800 IU per pill – Canadians in particular should plan for a total between 2000 to 4000 IU a day

- Remember this! – take the calcium citrate and vitamin D supplement at least 2 hours before or 2 hours after taking your multivitamin or an iron containing supplement – Iron and Calcium tend to complete with each other for absorption in the body – so to get the max effect, take them apart.

- Vitamin B12 – super important for nerve cell function and red blood cell production. It is also critical for energy and breaks down carbs and fat and helps you build proteins.

- Your options for Vitamin B12 include, 500-1000 mcg pill or a dissolvable tablet under your tongue once a day OR a 1000mcg injection from your family doctor 1x/month

- Most options include a liquid or chewable version, avoid the gummies – they have limited shelf life and start losing their potency over time. They sometimes also contain more sugar than conventional pills

- Use water to swallow your pills – avoid taking vitamins with coffee, tea, soda, juice or alcohol. The absorption and breakdown of the vitamins is unpredictable with different liquids and better studied with water.

- Keep vitamins stored in cool, dry places. Some vitamins can be affected by being exposed to sunlight

- Look out for vitamins that add too many “other” ingredients like sugars, herbals or caffeine.

Remember vitamins and supplements are just that, they supplement and enrich your healthy lifestyle but they surely do not replace good portion control and healthy and varied food choices. Vitamins and minerals are needed for your health, but they do not provide energy.

Recommended Vitamin Options for Sleeve Surgery patients:

Kirkland Signature Multivitamin + Multimineral

Nutritional Content: Kirkland vitamins are known for their comprehensive range of essential nutrients, including vitamins A, C, D, and E, as well as important minerals like calcium and iron.

Bariatric Advantage Chewable Advanced or Ultra

Nutritional Content: Specifically designed for bariatric patients, these vitamins offer a tailored formula that meets the unique nutritional needs post-surgery. Higher doses of certain nutrients B12 and iron are noted here.

First Response Prenatal Vitamins

Nutritional Content: Offered at a mid-range price with a naturally sourced lemon-orange flavor, First Response also offers formulations rich in folic acid, iron, which can be beneficial in the post-operative phase.


Nutritional Content: While primarily a prenatal vitamin, Materna's balance of vitamins and minerals like folic acid, calcium, and Vitamin D can be beneficial for post-gastrectomy patients.

Comparing Your Options

When comparing these options, it's important to consider both the nutritional content and pricing. Kirkland offers a broad spectrum of essential nutrients at an affordable price, making it a great all-rounder. Bariatric Advantage, while more expensive, provides a tailored solution for bariatric patients. First Response and Materna, with their focus on prenatal health, offer unique formulations that can also support post-surgical needs.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right vitamin supplement post-sleeve gastrectomy is a personal decision that should be made in consultation with experts at MyLife Bariatrics and the HOW Clinics. We are more than happy to help you find the best option based on your specific nutritional needs and recovery process.

Remember, while surgery is an excellent tool for weight loss, the real key to lifelong weight loss success lies in living a healthy lifestyle, which includes proper nutrition and regular vitamin intake.

We all look forward to sharing in your smooth and healthy post-surgical journey. Expect only exceptional care by our surgeons at MyLife Bariatrics.

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