It's not what you are eating, it's what's eating you…

Well, I know better than to speak in absolutes about any person, let alone any “community”. Such as the weight loss surgery community. And of course there is a lot of weight loss surgery people who not only talk about the importance of vitamins but take them, faithfully. Or they don’t  talk about vitamins, and they take them, as they are supposed to.

While the topic of vitamins and which vitamins to take, come up often, in the weight loss surgery communities. Not often as it should, the matter comes up where weight loss patients who do admit that they don’t, they experience some backlash from the community, that’s probably why a lot of people don’t admit their non compliance.

As someone who did/does  take their vitamins, faithfully, I truthfully would get upset, years ago, when I’d hear about those who didn’t. Given the bizarre complications I’ve had, truthfully, sometimes I’d get to the point of not just being upset but to the point of being outraged.

Then of course, I got over myself and realized, being the medical and mental health activist that I am, that it is a form of self sabotage, if not self destruction for some, and people who don’t take their vitamins, they need support, NOT judgment.

And that’s my goal with this blog is to start a dialogue in the weight loss surgery community about why people DO NOT take their vitamins. And what we as the weight loss surgery community can do to support them, although professional help, both medically (i.e. dealing with your surgeons office) as well as mental health support, from a professional, definitely should be considered.

I will say this and I’m pretty blunt and to the point when it comes to non compliance of taking vitamins. DO NOT tell me, or anyone else, that you had weight loss surgery for your HEALTH, but you don’t take your vitamins, coming up with a myriad of excuses.

While I know there is a few people I know well, who long term, haven’t taken vitamins and are doing just fine. They are in DEFINITELY in the minority, and a lot of  people are playing “Russian roulette” with their health by not taking vitamins.

It will NOT matter, if you keep your weight off. It won’t matter you are compliant with food requirements and exercise for most people who don’t take their vitamins and make excuses about it, for most weight loss surgery patients, especially for those who elected to have malabsorptive bariatric surgeries such as roux-en-y gastric bypass and duodenal switches, are risking major medical health issues that are irreversible and reduce one’s quality of life, by not taking vitamins, as prescribed.

A few weight loss surgery patients have even DIED from this.

Even if a bariatric post operative has had a major regain, weight wise, doesn’t mean that they won’t have serious sub-complications  from failure to take their vitamins. But taking them is NOT enough. A bariatric surgical patient, regardless of what kind of weight loss surgery, needs to take their vitamins for the rest of their lives and make sure their vitamin and other essential nutrient levels are monitored  for absorption for the rest of their lives. By a physician.

As I know quite a few long term weight loss surgery patients who have always taken their vitamins and didn’t experience serious nutritional deficiencies, until they got further out. Like really, far post weight loss surgery. Some peeps I know that took their vitamins, faithfully, didn’t experience absorption issues until 10+ years post op. It can happen at any time. But you don’t have a prayer of absorbing, something you aren’t taking. And even it’s not hurting you, right now, it could, in the future.

I had a technically performed PERFECT laproscopic roux-en-y gastric bypass by a nationally ranked surgeon. I took my vitamins and I just couldn’t orally supplement enough. I needed for a couple of years, pre-reversal, IV infusions of ferritin and “banana bags” and they weren’t enough. Even my gastric bypass reversal, didn’t right away fix my absorption problems.

While most people post gastric bypass will NEVER have the bizarre set of complications, as well as well as the bizarre disabilities that I ended up that are irreversible. Enough people have been disabled and experienced a great reduction in quality of life, due to the sub-complications that come from non compliance with vitamins. EVEN if they are doing everything else, correctly.

I get discounted a lot and am used to quite a few weight loss surgery patients who discount what I say because of “it won’t happen to me syndrome” . Sometimes people will discount what I say,  because I write poorly. They don’t realize that I write poorly, largely due to the irreversible cognitive damage, I sustained from long term severe nutritional deficiencies.

I usually use the analogy that if people wouldn’t drive a car, without making sure they have oil in their engines and have it changed, why would they do this to themselves??? Especially in my case where I lost the ability to ever be eligible for a driver’s license, among many other abilities, due to the severe long term nutritional  deficiencies. That I had absolutely no control over.

So how do we help those who aren’t taking their vitamins? By being supportive of them and not judging. Letting people know there are resources by bariatric vitamin companies for those who are in a super rare category of truly not being able to afford their vitamins.

By gently reminding people, the severe consequences on their physical health, that can cause irreversible damage medically and that could also cause mental health issues.

So, I’ve put this out there, to start a dialogue with my fellow weight loss surgery peers. Now, I want to know what you all have to say. Also if you need support because you’ve not admitted to not taking vitamins, of making this a safe place for people to talk about it.  As I won’t approve judgmental, triggering and/or shaming responses, regarding non compliance with vitamins, on this blog.

Comments on: "Truth about vitamins and the weight loss surgery community….." (2)

  1. Lisa for me you’re right I took my multivitamins and vitamins daily even though my body got to a point where it wouldn’t absorb the pills. After I got my gastric bypass reverse I still take a daily multivitamin. I like that you did a post on this because my mother also had gastric bypass surgery a year after me. She takes a daily multivitamin when she remembers and some calcium and some vitamin D however she has never taken iron. And seeing what I went through with iron infusions before my reverse this really bothered me for a long time. I would tell my mother you really need to take the iron and she would say well my labs are just fine so my doctor says I don’t need it. I also had a top rank gastric bypass doctor that did a perfect bypass and was told from the beginning that I needed to take my iron supplement. So now I just try to support her the best I can being she is eight years out I really hope for the best that she doesn’t have complications like me. But I fear the further she gets out she may have some. I try to talk to her and support her but even seen everything I went through she chooses to do what she does and all I can do is support her.

    • Misty…. I adore you, my brilliant, kind and beautiful inside and out, “reversal sister”. It’s possible that complications can always happen. That had happened to a family member, who had a brief bout of anemia, almost 10 years post rny. And it was easily rectified once iron supplements were added.

      I think the problem that a lot of people have with iron supplements is that sometimes they have constipation as a side effect. However constipation is a lot easier to cure than the issues that severe anemia can cause.

      For how much you and I both do, to help those with complications, it does get frustrating that sometimes, those closest to us, who’ve seen all or some of what we’ve gone through, still are naive enough, to think, it will NEVER happen to them… 😦

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