Jan - Feb 2020

Is There a Difference Between Bariatric Vitamins and Over the Counter Vitamins?

By Kelly Springer, RD


More than half of all Americans take vitamins, but if you’re a bariatric patient, you shouldn’t assume that all vitamins are safe for you to take. Some of them may not benefit you at all because you may need higher doses or a different form to support absorption.


There’s a reason that bariatric vitamins are developed specifically for bariatric patients. That’s because bariatric patients can become deficient in certain vitamins more readily than people who have not had surgery. This is because after some bariatric surgical procedures, food that is consumed bypasses some of the surface area in the digestive tract where vitamins and minerals are absorbed. For instance, when a person who has had gastric bypass surgery eats, their food does not travel through a large section of the stomach where B12 is absorbed. The food also bypasses the duodenum where calcium and iron are absorbed. And for all bariatric procedures, you are most probably eating smaller portions, therefore, you may not be getting the vitamins and minerals as someone who eats regular portions.


Higher Quantities of the Needed Vitamins and Minerals. Bariatric vitamins have higher quantities of B12, calcium and iron to ensure that your blood levels of these essential vitamins and minerals stay within a normal range. Over-the-counter vitamins may not contain the necessary amounts of these vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy. If you chose to take over-the-counter vitamins, it is also recommended that you take additional calcium, Vitamin D, iron and B12. This can add up to approximately 10 vitamins per day, which for some patients can be a daunting task. You may have a very difficult time consuming so many pills daily and eventually may stop taking them. Of course, that could lead to many health problems, including anemia and osteoporosis. That’s why it is crucial that you consistently take vitamins for the rest of your life.


More Concentrated, Less Pills, Easier to Stick With. And remember this: because bariatric vitamins are concentrated in the essential nutrients that you need, you’ll have fewer pills to take, which will make your daily regimen easier to stick to. There are many companies selling bariatric vitamins right now. You should try them out by asking for samples before you purchase them. Most of them are chewable so that you don’t need to swallow pills. Just keep in mind that you won’t get the healthful benefit unless you remember to take them!