Post-op weight loss patients have many changes to get used to. One important new habit: Taking daily supplements for the rest of their lives in order to meet their vitamin needs.
Here’s a closer look at supplements for bariatric patients, along with one innovative new meal replacement product aimed at bridging the nutrition gap for weight loss patients.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Vitamins and minerals are substances your body needs to grow properly, function normally and stay healthy. It’s possible — and highly recommended — that you get these substances from the foods you eat. However, it sometimes can be difficult to get the recommended amount of some vitamins and minerals from diet alone. That’s why it’s not unusual to hear that taking a multivitamin or other supplement on a daily basis can make good sense.”
This explanation applies to bariatric patients, but with a catch. Because weight loss surgery shrinks the stomach leaving less room for food, it’s much harder — if not impossible — for patients to completely fulfill their nutritional needs with food.
“Vitamins and minerals are substances your body needs to grow properly, function normally and stay healthy. It’s possible — and highly recommended — that you get these substances from the foods you eat. However, it sometimes can be difficult to get the recommended amount of some vitamins and minerals from diet alone. That’s why it’s not unusual to hear that taking a multivitamin or other supplement on a daily basis can make good sense.”
Reports Jacqueline Jacques, ND, for the Obesity Action Coalition, “A study done in 2008 followed 210 post-operative patients for two years and compared the nutrition in what they ate to the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI’s). They found that even though patients tended to eat better after surgery, not one was able to eat even the minimum requirement for Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium, iron, B1, B3, B6, Folate, biotin or pantothenic acid (B5).”
Enter supplements. According to Jacques, supplements are necessary after bariatric surgery for three reasons, including the following:
In order to avoid post-op malabsorption and other complications, multivitamins are a must. However, multivitamins may still fall short when it comes to providing everything patients need to stay healthy, such as calcium, vitamin B12 and iron. Failure to take in enough of these vitamins can lead to everything from bone loss to anemia. Vitamin D, thiamine, and protein supplements may also be necessary, depending on the individual.
“Most nutritional deficiencies are easier to prevent than to treat, and once you have had surgery, your risk for developing a problem never goes away. Sticking with your basic nutritional program will help assure both your health and your success,” says Jacques.
“Patients should be educated before and after weight loss surgery (WLS) on the expected nutrient deficiencies associated with alterations in physiology.”
While supplements are necessary, the best source of vitamins and minerals is real food. While this may sound like an impossible bar to set for patients, there are many options available to help them optimize their nutrition.
One new option is Achieve from Rational Foods. At just 160 calories each and 5 grams of fat, these portable pouches are a real food option loaded with vitamins and minerals, including but not limited to 20 percent of the daily recommended values for vitamin D, iron, calcium and many others.
Not only that, but each Achieve serving also contains 50 percent of the daily recommended value for vitamin C, as well as a whopping 20 grams of protein. As a snack or meal replacement, Achieve offers an invaluable partnership to dietitians helping bariatric patients meet their doctor’s recommendations for nutrition.
“Optimizing postoperative patient outcomes and nutritional status begins pre-operatively,” says the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery’s “Integrated Health Nutrition Guidelines for the Surgical Weight Loss Patient 2016 Update: Micronutrients. “Patients should be educated before and after weight loss surgery (WLS) on the expected nutrient deficiencies associated with alterations in physiology.”
In addition to proactively and routinely going over the nutrition imperative with patients, registered dietitians can further support their weight loss clients’ success by introducing them to bariatric-friendly food options, such as Achieve.