Dietary supplements are a booming industry, with sales worth $5.6 billion in 2019. One reason for this is that they are often seen as harmless, but like all things, too much can be a problem, and that’s why it’s important to pay close attention to what you might be supplementing with, how much you actually need, what you are eating and what you may be deficit in. We are always advocates for getting what you need through whole foods, however, there are times when supplementation is necessary. Iodine and folate prior to and throughout pregnancy, or iron, for those who may be deficient, are some examples of necessary supplementation. One area where nutrient screening/supplementation is imperative is bariatric surgery, in 2017, 22,000 first-time bariatric surgeries were preformed, with the numbers increasing since this time.
After bariatric surgery, it is recommended for everyone to take a multivitamin long-term, this is due to the restrictive and/or malabsorptive properties of the procedure. However, not all multivitamins are created equal, some may not have the key vitamins needed, whereas others may have too much, leading to toxicity. The key to safety is the dose taken, and correlating this dose to what the blood levels are.
Some of the vitamins at risk of toxicity when supplemented are vitamins A and B6. The potential for toxicity increases when supplemented in multiple forms, therefore it is important to look at what is in each supplement if you are taking a few different ones. Some chewable ‘gummies’ only have small amounts of vitamins, and therefore aren’t able to provide enough of the key vitamins that are ‘at risk’ after bariatric surgery, such as iron and vitamin B12. Some supplements may also contain excess zinc, but no copper, which can then in turn lead to copper deficiency.
What this all boils down to is individuality. There is no ‘one-size fits all’ approach. If you have had bariatric surgery, it is recommended to have vitamin and mineral screening bloods performed at least yearly, and to have a discussion with a dietitian who understands your needs and can tailor a multivitamin regime to suit you. If you haven’t had bariatric surgery, but take over the counter supplements, a dietitian review can also be useful, so that an assessment of your diet can be completed and a plan developed for which (if any) supplements may be helpful for you. If this sounds like what you need, get in touch with our team today.