Bariatric surgery refers to a variety of different weight loss procedures to reduce a patient's food intake. Currently, the three most popular are sleeve gastrectomy, gastric bypass and gastric banding. While these procedures are different, the post-surgical nutritional recommendations can be very similar. Unfortunately, all too often, products marketed as "Bariatric Supplements" come up short. Today I'd like to share some important information regarding nutritional supplements that isn't always addressed as well as share my recommendations for post-bariatric surgery.

Quite often, marketers and even doctors focus too much of their attention on a supplement's delivery system and not enough on its form. Let's look at calcium for example. When you think about taking a calcium supplement you probably think about whether it is chewable, liquid, softgel, tablet or capsule. This is the delivery system, and for many it's the main reason they choose one product over another. However, I would argue the form of calcium is far more important, especially for someone who has had bariatric surgery due to the decreased time the nutrients remain in the gut. Different forms of calcium (and any vitamin or mineral for that matter) offer different degrees of utilization regardless of delivery system. Some forms of calcium include carbonate, citrate, lactate, and whole-food. In my opinion, you are far better off getting a tablet made from whole-food calcium than a softgel made from calcium carbonate, which is after all simply chalk.

So with this said, if you are having or have had bariatric surgery, I want to caution you against some of the products that brand themselves as "bariatric supplements." These supplements often provide powder, liquid or chewable options but the forms they are using are inferior. Again, the goal here is to get usable nutrients that will prevent deficiencies and provide adequate nutrition. That's why many of my recommendations are for whole-food supplements from brands like MegaFood, Garden of Life and New Chapter. These brands provide supplements that are made of food or fermented food nutrients that are easily recognizable and usable by the body. I believe we are meant to get nutrients from food and whole-food supplements deliver nutrition in this way. Whole-food supplements also present far fewer side effects like stomach upset or constipation than traditional forms. 

Now, let's look at some specific recommendations for bariatric patients. Traditionally, the 'most important' recommended supplements post-surgery are B12, calcium, iron, a good multi-vitamin and protein.

1. Methylcobalamin B12 - For bariatric patients I prefer a sublingual B12 because it dissolves under the tongue and quickly enters the blood stream. I prefer Methylcobalamin as it is superior to the traditional Cyanocobalamin form.

2. Calcium - while a liquid is often recommended, this is one case where I prefer the whole food form. New Chapter's Bone Strength is a highly absorbable bone formula that goes beyond just calcium and includes vitamin D3, vitamin K2, Magnesium and Silica. I have had countless customers tell me it is was gentle on their stomach (read non-constipating), and share that their bone density had improved since taking Bone Strength according to subsequent bone scans. If you are more comfortable with a liquid, be sure to get a liquid calcium citrate. Solgar and LifeTime make popular liquid calcium citrate products.

3. Iron - traditional iron supplements can be very constipating. Again, I believe a whole food supplement is best. Garden of Life's Plant Iron (liquid) or MegaFood's Blood Builder have both been very well tolerated by my bariatric clients. Constipation is a big problem with most iron supplements. This is not the base with Blood Builder. I especially like this product because it also includes B12 and Folate, which are necessary for red blood cell production. 

4. Multi-Vitamin - Garden of Life's Raw One – A comprehensive whole-food multivitamin in a capsule, makes this an excellent multi for someone that has digestive challenges.

5.  Protein - There are quite a few good protein supplements available. When you think of protein, whey protein is often the most popular. It mixes easily while providing a bio-available form of protein. However, one product I prefer to whey is Ancient Nutrition's Bone Broth Protein (BBP). In addition to delivering high quality protein, BBP contains co-factors like collagen, hyaluronic acid and glucosamine to support healthy gut and joints. These co-factors are not found in whey protein. BBP is also more versatile, than whey. While it can be mixed as a protein shake or added to smoothies, bone broth protein can also be mixed with hot water to create a quick high protein broth.

As always, these are just some of the options available. For more information, please stop in to see me or any of our Certified Experts. 
Best of health,