Weight Loss Surgery And Nutrition: Dr. Kevin Huffman Talks Vitamins

Weight loss surgery patients require unique vitamin supplements before and after their procedures. Which supplements they need often depends on the procedure.

Weight loss surgery patients require unique vitamin supplements before and after their procedures. Which supplements they need often depends on the type of surgery they had.

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Because bariatric surgery limits the amount of food a patient can eat and, in some cases, changes the way food is processed, weight loss surgery patients need to give added attention to getting enough vitamins and nutrients — often through specially formulated supplements — to avoid certain surgical risks. In particular, after a malabsorptive operation, such as gastric bypass surgery, the patient is no longer able to absorb nutrients in the same way, even through generic supplement pills.

Ohio bariatric physician Kevin Huffman regularly consults primary care physicians about the unique needs of bariatric patients before and after their surgery.

“In many cases, patients don’t go back to their surgeons – and so the surgeons aren’t there to watch them two, three and four years out,” he said. “But they all go back to their primary care doctors. So we’re trying to do a better job of educating the primary care doctors about the special needs of their patients.”

Huffman advises physicians on how to prepare bariatric surgery patients before their surgeries, to address issues such as fasting and special protein supplements that preserve muscle. After the operation, the patient’s nutritional needs will vary, depending on the surgery that was performed.

Primary care physicians keep track of needs through blood tests, and considering the surgery type. Bariatric physicians, such as Huffman, provide them with the guidelines. Most patients require extra protein and all are directed to take special multivitamins. But gastric bypass and biliopancreatic diversion surgery patients need extra thiamine – and extra calcium in a citrate form, since they lack the stomach acid to absorb calcium carbonate.

Huffman advises that many generic multivitamins don’t provide people with what they need after bariatric surgeries. The new lack of gastric acid and/or traditional digestion means the body can’t absorb ordinary supplements. This requires special pills formulated for various bariatric patients before and after their operations.

“There’s a big difference in vitamins, and how they’re made,” Huffman said. “It’s unfortunate, but the better vitamins cost a little bit more money. You can get a Flintstones (vitamin) for pennies, but to get a good vitamin is going to cost a little bit.”

4 Responses

  1. Jane

    How do I find out what specific brands and types of vitamins I should take and what dosage i should take? My surgeon just abandoned me and provides no information. I have B12, D, Calcium and protein deficiencies and am being OTC dosages by my doctors. I am concerened that this is insufficient but don’t know where to go or where to send them.

  2. Teri

    Jane, go to BariatricEating.com. They have the very specific vitamins and supplements we need to stay healthy. I had my surgery a year ago and I’ve been VERY faithful in taking these products…and my surgeon and my regular doctor are very pleased with my blood work…I’ve been tested three times ..once before and twice after…and my nutritional levels have been better after the surgery!these are helping me stay on top of it all!
    Good Luck…and find a doctor or surgeon who will help you!!!


  3. candace

    i had gastric bypass surgery over 5 years ago. i still suffer with the dumping,racing heart bad feeling after i eat sometimes i can eat a good portion of food then some times i feel so bloated i cant eat . i love the fact that i had the surgery but when am i ever going to feel totally better.i have to walk now to maitain my weight and its harder tan it was, they say your stomach tend to stretch is that true?