What should I know before having weight-loss surgery?

Dr. Peter Bongiorno, ND
Naturopathic Medicine Specialist

It is important to remember that weight loss surgeries that decrease stomach area will change your ability to absorb certain nutrients.

Studies have shown a greatly decreased ability to absorb protein, calcium, vitamin B12, and a few other nutrients.

For my patients, I believe it is important to create a person-specific regimen that incorporates the right supplements. These would include a high quality bariatric (weight loss surgery) minded protein shake, plus a methyl-cobalamin vitamin B12, calcium citrate supplement and a good quality multiple vitamin. 

I recommend each of my bariatric patients look for:

  • Protein: 60-80 grams, in divided doses every day
  • Calcium citrate: 1200mg
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine): 50mg a day
  • B12: 1000mcg once a week
  • Vitamin A: 10,000iu, three times a week
  • B Complex liquid: every day
  • Zinc: 50mg a day
  • Biotin: 500mg a day

Since each individual is unique, each person's needs may be slightly different, so speak to your doctor about your individual needs.

Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

While weight-loss surgery can be one solution to shedding pounds, there are some nutritional and lifestyle issues to consider. Ironically, many obese individuals are actually malnourished prior to the procedure, as their diets tend to be high in calorie-rich foods (sweetened beverages and desserts) but low in vitamins and minerals. This puts them at risk for further nutritional deficiencies after the procedure, when their calories are so drastically reduced it is impossible to meet one's daily needs.

After the procedure, your diet will be forever altered. Patients are generally instructed not to drink liquids with meals to avoid stretching the pouch. They must give up caffeine as it can be dehydrating and an irritant to the stomach, and they must also forgo carbonated beverages as it often causes discomfort. A multivitamin and mineral supplement must be continued indefinitely to ensure that deficiencies don’t occur years after the procedure.

Lastly, the weight loss isn’t necessarily permanent. Patients typically gain back about 10 to 15 percent of the weight loss. However, weight loss surgery can help you understand your body better and better manage hunger and your weight.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.