Susan Maria Leach and the people at Bariatric Eating have started a new venture: bariatric vitamins. The line was represented at the ObesityHelp conference in Houston last weekend. Susan Maria was there herself, advocating Journey Vitamins as the end-all, be-all of bariatric supplementation.
Oddly enough, for the past few months, Susan Maria has situated herself firmly within the “eat your vitamins” camp:
I know change is hard, but we need to EAT our vitamins. (September 17, 2010)
Are Food Sources of Calcium Better? Yep … They Are! (August 3, 2010)
Well, if you’ve read my past few posts, you know how I feel about that. Relying on food alone is just plain stupid for bariatric patients. There is a reason the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgeons recommends vitamin supplements. They keep us alive! Well, when Susan Maria started advocating eating your vitamins, my friend Andrea predicted that she would soon be debuting her own line of vitamins. Andrea was right, as she often is.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with targeted bariatric vitamins. I just have a big issue when they are done improperly. And that’s the case here.
I tried to talk to Susan Maria and the Journey folks at the conference in Houston. I was frustrated, though, by the lack of answers that I received. I asked Susan Maria herself about the science behind her “new” forms of calcium and iron, which are manufactured by Albion. All she would tell me was that “the science is good” and that they “worked with scientists.” No details. If you are telling people that your vitamins are scientifically superior, please know the research to back up your claims. Don’t just treat me like an idiot, expecting me to blindly follow your advice.
As negative as my interaction with Journey was, my impression only worsened once I tasted the vitamin and researched “the science.”
The Journey reps left the OH conference early, leaving behind an open container of their product. Not wanting to let vitamins go to waste, some of us at the conference decided to conduct a series of taste tests. So, I found myself sampling Journey’s calcium melt on two separate occasions. I’m struggling to come up with words to describe the experience. The best I can do is to say that the melts are bitter, milky, and effervescent. There is the slightest hint of a lemon flavor toward the end, which does nothing to mask the awful taste of these vitamins. Don’t believe me? Pictures don’t lie.
Bottom line: We hated them. I couldn’t bear to finish my first one. It got spit out into the trashcan. I did finish the second one for the picture reviews, though. Yuck! Never again.
With chewable vitamins, taste is very important. Patients are unlikely to be compliant if their vitamins taste awful. And no one should have to take nasty vitamins when there are better-tasting alternatives available. Taste certainly shouldn’t be compromised in a vitamin without quality nutrition stats. Journey just doesn’t have those.
The company recommends taking eight (yes…eight!) of their multivitamins a day. Unfortunately, even with eight melts, Journey doesn’t meet the ASMBS recommendations for a multivitamin. To come close to meeting those recommendations, you’d have to take at least around twelve melts daily. Journey doesn’t have pricing information on their website yet, but I’m guessing twelve melts a day would be cost-prohibitive for a lot of people. Add to that the reality that most bariatric patients require supplements besides a basic multivitamin, so you’d really be taking even more supplements. So much for streamlining the process. I’d much rather continue to take my two multi’s a day, rather than adding ten pills to my regimen. I’m guessing you would too.
Much is being made about the formulas used in these vitamins. The calcium and iron are supposed to be more bioavailable, and the calcium is not supposed to interfere with iron absorption. I have one thing to say about this — show me the studies to support those claims. I have not been able to find them. And it would be really nice if they weren’t funded by Albion. I did, however, see one study refuting the claims made about the iron used in Journey’s vitamins. I’ll stick with carbonyl for now, thanks. For more information on the science, read Andrea’s post on the matter. She covers it better than I ever could.
The bottom line is that I would never recommend these vitamins to any bariatric patient, and I am absolutely furious that there are people out there that are.