Not really.

Susan Maria posted on her message board about her vitamin this morning.  I’m guessing she isn’t getting the sales she was aiming for and needed to write a commercial for it.  But I feel it’s important to share her words that she has FINALLY provided (we’ve only been asking since the beginning of November..) and lay the science out point by point to either counter or agree with what she says.  She will not answer any questions about the science — will only reference people to the Albion happy science papers — which are nothing but press releases.

The post below can be found (by those not banned, of course, at her message board here.  This is, assuming, unless it gets deleted (which she has a history of doing — to me personally).  I give my word, as much as it is worth, that I am not abridging her post whatsoever, changing her words at all, or changing any intent.  This is her entire post, word for word.  All I am going to do is break it down into sections to discuss the science in points.  That is all.

Let’s talk about Journey Easy & Complete, the new all-in-one Multiformula Capsules. They are HOT and for very good reason! I know this is a long post, but I finally got around to explaining it in my own words. It sounds like a commercial because I am excited as to how this product turned out – so it IS a commercial. Take the time to read and understand why I am excited about this product we have worked long hours to develop. It was TIME and I think all of you will like the idea behind Journey.

I am very proud that this important project has finally come to fruition. I have been working with nutraceutical scientists and physicians for many months and Journey, the finest quality bariatric supplements available, is the result.

I knew for a fact that if I didn’t take my vitamins as I was supposed to as a ten year post op, that other bariatric post-ops were not taking them as well. Most of us stop taking vitamins because it is complicated, expensive, and they we don’t like taking six different bottles of pills or chewables each day. Actually, let me rewind – it’s that we set ourselves up for failure in thinking we can take a handful of different components at various timed setpoints throughout the day. It is extremely difficult, if not impossible to be compliant! I applaud those who can and do stick to a vitamin schedule – I gave up, even when a friend used to put them out on a dish on my desk every day, I didnt take them.

I have a sincere problem with a Professional Post-op discussing how difficult it is to create a workable plan for vitamin compliance.  Especially with the cult-like following this woman has.

It is not difficult to get a program in place – especially once one understands how the vitamins work in the body, get them situated in the correct “families” (b-vitamins like each other – take them together; D can be taken with anything; etc.), take some products that higher tolerances (Proferrin, the heme iron now available out there, has a higher tolerance with calcium, zinc, copper, whole grains, tannins, and legumes.  I TAKE my iron with calcium.  Hell, a regular ionic iron dose can be taken with a Citracal petite as the two will not interfere with one another at such low amounts.), etc.

Telling post-ops that it’s too difficult?  THIS is setting people up for failure.  Way to go for the positive spin on things.

IF you have stopped taking your multivitamins completely, if you often forget to take ALL your bottles EVERY day, if you feel guilty that you are NOT able to stick to a vitamin schedule, if you are just looking for something SIMPLE because you have a busy life – you are not the only one. We all make believe we take our vitamins every day, because we THINK we are the only one who cannot live up to standards of our peers. I LOVE that Journey Bariatric Easy & Complete MultiFormula Capsules are easy to take and give me the balance I have been searching for in having bariatric surgery. Journey Easy & Complete is a capsule based regimen.

THREE capsules in the morning and THREE capsules in the evening and I am done. We can all stick to that schedule and keep our head held high that we have taken control of our health. We need to make healthy choices and eat as many of our vitamins as we can through fresh vegetables, fruits, and lean protein sources – and then supplement for what we are unable to take in with Journey.

If Susan knew anything about post-op nutrition at all, she would know that we simply cannot, cannot, cannot EAT our vitamins at all.  We don’t contain the ability in our post-op guts to do so.  Our guts, after surgical alteration, are geared towards macronutrient absorption ONLY.  They need the 200% (or more for many, many, many of us) of RDA in vitamin form to come across the villi to absorb at least half of what they see.  What do you think they do when they see lettuce?  (Mine won’t even GET to see lettuce as my stoma does a DOA and foams that right on back up, but not the point.)  It pulls the few calories out of the lettuce and pushes it on through.  We get NO nutrition from it.  We cannot count nutrition from food.  PERIOD.  End of story.  Do not trust anyone who says differently without studies ON US to say differently.

We started from scratch and researched all available science to come up with a sensible formulation. These are not a repack or private branding of something already on the market – this is a proprietary formulation, sourced using the top quality components. No other company lets the consumer know where they source their components. All our minerals are Albion Laboratories TRAACS – which means they are patented chelates that can be quantified or tracked inside the body. It costs a lot more to use a brand name but it’s worth it in regards to quality. Journey scientists suggested that we include digestive enzymes in our formula as well. Instead of continuing to suffer with gas and lactose intolerance we took the steps to help solve the problem by adding probiotics to our Multiformula!

Oh dear, where do I start?  Albion wrote a document that even said that chelates (their TRAACS included) ONLY absorbs in the “upper part” of the intestine – this is the duodenum. Which is bypassed in the RNY and in the DS.  So who is the fool here — Susan Maria for not knowing any better, of the people who buy this crap thinking Susan has the best interests at heart when she really should know better?

Journey Easy & Complete MultiFormula Capsules do not have that awful ‘vitamin smell’. Many people stop taking vitamins due to the terrible smell and repeating or burping B vitamins as well.

Seriously?  Last time I checked, we were adults.

Vitamins are medicine.  Take your damned vitamins.

Journey’s primary intent was to create EFFICIENCY. Instead of the body processing a boatload of calcium in order to take in a handful – the highly specialized DimaCal® calcium we have elected to use allows the body to extract that same handful though processing a smaller amount. The net result is the same – but DimaCal® specialty calcium is not only more efficiently absorbed but been shown to be retained LONGER in the bone tissue once it gets there. You can take more if you wish as an insurance policy – which is not a hardship for most of us; Journey has separate Healthy Bones DimaCal® Calcium for those who wish to take an additional one or two capsules. Soon we will have our delicious Lemon Melt formula.

This label even tells the story of calcium.  The RDA for NON-ABSORBING adults is 1,000mg.  By taking this multivitamin alone (which is Susan Maria’s intent), you will not even get the same amount calcium that my husband is supposed to get a day.

Now, I know she’s saying that DimaCal absorbs better than anything else.  However there is absolutely no research to prove this whatsoever, especially in achlorhydriacs — either studies in RNY and DS folks, or in similar studies using PPIs to artificially create achlorhydria as they do to simulate aging (we lose acidity in our gut as we age) or the millions of Americans on PPIs every day.  Additionally, I know she is still touting the “eat your vitamins” — it should be noted that the calcium in milk and yogurt-type foods is calcium phosphate.  If this sounds similar to another “no-no” calcium, you’d be correct.  We don’t ABSORB the calcium in milk and yogurts because it requires a high-degree of acid in our guts to do so — the same as calcium tri-phosphate or calcium carbonate.  So there goes that theory.

The ASMBS — a body that Susan is a member of, by the way — advocates a bariatric RDA of 1,200 mg of calcium citrate for AGB and VSG, 1,500-2,000mg calcium citrate for RNY, and 1,800 – 2,400mg for DSers.

We are told to not take our calcium and iron together but that assumes ordinary iron and calcium. Our nutraceutical scientists understand that regular iron and calcium ‘do not get along’, which is why we have used specialized forms of BOTH iron and calcium that have an amino acid protein shell so they can go into the same capsule and be taken together.

Not even close.  I really hope Susan isn’t this stupid.

The molecules of Journey iron and calcium are like M&M’s – the candy shell surrounds the chocolate center much like the amino acid protein shell surrounds the mineral molecule; the chocolate in the green M&M doesn’t touch the chocolate in the yellow M&M; and therefore they don’t stick together or interact. These chelated mineral forms are also more efficiently absorbed so we can take and process less with a greater net result.

I’m really concerned.

In addition to Journey’s Albion Ferrochel® Iron bisglycinate chelate not blocking uptake of Calcium or other minerals, it won’t cause the usual problems with stomach aches or constipation caused by other more commonly used forms of iron. Iron bisglycinate is often recommended by Hematologists for patients with anemia who are being treated with IV iron infusions.

Okay.  New rule.  If you do not know the simple rules of nutrition?  DO NOT SELL VITAMINS.  This is PROOF that Susan Maria simply does not have a fucking clue what she is selling, does not have YOUR interests at heart, and is simply parroting bad information in order to make more money.  DO NOT BUY INTO THIS CRAP.

Iron does not block the uptake of calcium.  Period.  Anyone who has been paying part attention in nutrition class knows this.

EVERYONE knows that the calcium and ionic iron molecules bind to the same receptor sites and that the calcium molecules are larger than the iron molecules.  When taken in larger than 300mg doses, calcium will block ionic iron absorption as calcium will block iron’s ability’s to attach to the receptors in the intestine.

If you don’t know this basic tenet of nutritional science — DO NOT SELL VITAMINS.


As for the iron used?  It’s crap.  Beyond the fact that we know that the iron doesn’t absorb because Albion has proven that chelates only absorb in the duodenum (which we don’t have – surprise), the iron sucks.

Did a post here that compared IBG to a couple of different other iron preps.  But the nutshells are:

  1. IBG doesn’t work well with people who have disorders of the intestinal tract.
  2. Ferrous sulfate absorbs better than IBG in patients with gastrectomies.  Remember that RNY, DS, and VSG are all forms of gastrectomies.  Also, keep in mind that these surgeries create a state of achlorhydria.
  3. Ferrous sulfate does not absorb well in achlorhydriac patients.

Therefore it would be safe to assume, given these two studies, that IBG would be a poor choice of iron for RNY, DS, and VSG patients.  Additionally, it would not be good for AGB patients on any sort of H2 or PPI due to the lowered stomach acid created by taking such medication.

IF you are already low in iron, you will need to add a single Journey Simply Iron Capsule to your Easy & Complete Multformula Capsules. Due to the efficiency, a 27mg dose in many cases is more capable of raising ferritin and blood iron levels than other forms. Take mega doses of other types of iron and you will not have a BM for a month. Constipation is the number one reason people STOP taking iron. Simply Iron is a very small capsule that is very easy to swallow – as are ALL of the Journey capsules.

Misinformation and ignorance.  Carbonyl and heme iron do not have these side effects in 95% of patients.  But nice try.

I made a very important decision to create these vitamins because I must live the rest of my life with the radical surgical choice that I made nearly ten years ago. It is time that someone who must actually take bariatric vitamins took charge and developed something that gives us more choices. Let it be known that I do believe that rearranging my internal organs was very foolish from the standpoint of nutritional deficiencies but I cannot write a new beginning, so I simply must deal with it for my lifetime in the best way possible. I gathered the best in the business to create Journey Bariatric supplements to lend balance to my life and we all benefit as we are all in this together. For real!

Susan Maria Leach
President, / BE, LLC – RNY 2001
Author, Before & After – Living & Eating Well After Weight Loss Surger

I’d like to put Susan in a box, feed her food, and make her take these vitamins for a year with MY blood tests to see exactly how long it will take to tank on everything.

I truly doubt she will be telling the truth with her labs.  And I truly doubt her labs are as comprehensive as mine are.

I also wonder who on B&A will be taking care of those who pop deficient.. this woman who obviously has no clue what the holy hell she is doing when it comes to nutrition?  I truly worry about these people.  I don’t dare go to B&A as I know I’ll be banned in an instant.

I write what I write because I have been down this path before.  And I draw fire for what I write every day.  I live this life and I do the research to help keep others from living the hell I have lived.  But I’m truly sincere in my words and I mean every single one of them.  I live this life, and I live my truth.  If I say it, I mean it – 110%.

Please help me by spreading the word.  Stand up and be counted — it is time for bariatric patients to stop being taking advantage of these money-grubbing mongers who think fat people are to be abused.  We are intelligent humans who know better and we aren’t that desperate any more.

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10 Responses to “Journey — as told by Susan Maria, and dissected by Andrea”

  1. Karen Ogle says:

    What is scary is that she is counting on her OWN credibility to sell this crap. I don’t understand why anyone finds her credible at all. Then again, there are some really gullible people in the world. You are doing all you can to get the word out. Keep it up.:)

  2. Deb Evert says:

    Deep sigh – I’m thinking she needs to sell more vitamins to take another vacation. A cruise, or a trip to Europe. Sorry – I won’t be sending you SM… I sure as hell can’t afford to go and doggone it – neither can you – not on my dollar!!

  3. ASG says:

    Andrea, a few general questions:

    1) Do we absorb ANY micronutrients from food? i.e. some, but not enough?

    2) Given 2 post-ops who take the same exact supplements (or no supplements whatsoever), why can one post-op encounter a whole lot of deficiencies whereas the second is getting A+ marks with blood work?

    I still haven’t figured out the right supplements for my individual needs, but I am a big believer in bloodwork — I get my drawn monthly! — so it’s been a lot of trial and error for me personally. I wish it was ‘One Size Fits All,’ but it’s not and it really makes me appreciate the complexity of the human body.

  4. MacMadame says:

    My pet peeve is people who try to universalize their own experience instead of owning it. This post by Susan Maria is a prime example. What she is basically saying is: I’m a moron who won’t take my vitamins even though I know it’s important so every one else with WLS is too.

    Sorry, SM, but I haven’t had any big issues with taking my vitamins. They don’t taste gross, they don’t give me constipation and they don’t cost an arm and a leg either.

  5. Andrea says:

    Allison -

    1) We cannot assume we absorb ANY. The villi are keyed to do ONE thing after the bypass — and that is macronutrient absorption. Sure, they will absorb SOME from food, but we cannot quantify how much, as it will be based on individual anatomy, and plus? There have been absolutely NO far-reaching long-term studies done on us. There have been pocket studies done (60 patients here and there at 2 years out, etc.) but nothing wide-reaching (many, many patients — such as several hundred RNYers) dealing with long-term results (2+, 5+, 10+ years).

    2) Because each person has different anatomies. It’s very individualistic. I over-absorb my B-vites but can’t absorb ionic iron at all. However, I know many people who cannot absorb B12 for anything, regardless of method (IM, methyl vs cyano, etc.). These differences are there pre-surgery as well.. however, they seem to be more drastic after our guts are rerouted.

    I simply do not believe in a “One Size Fits All” — despite the wish for it.

  6. Rachel says:

    I posted a blog about Journey as well. Had a thing or two to add and wanted to track back to your blog… feel free to check it out Andrea.

    Thank you for writing this! It was well written and informative for all of us!

  7. Ashlee says:

    It’s funny, isn’t it? When I first started “following” Susan three years ago, she purported Bariatric Advantage. She never allowed anyone to believe that she was lax on her vitamin schedule. Quite the opposite, actually. It was that she kept vitamins in a bowl on her desk and took them whenever she had to. Was she lying?

    Also, I distinctly remember her going against the whole “we should be getting our vitamins mainly from food sources” BS AND the nut’s who sold that theory… and now she’s a part of it?!

    She’s blocked herself in with her own words and people who’ve been paying attention to her words for more than two years. Her fault.

    Thanks, Andrea, for all of this science. :)

  8. Mz. Puppie says:

    To be honest, I *do* have a bit of a hard time figuring out when to take what, especially considering that I have meds that don’t play well with calcium/iron. I seem to often find myself choosing whether to skip a calcium or an iron (so what you said above about being able to take some kinds together if it’s done right blew my mind).

    I’m also averse to chewables and vastly prefer swallow-ables, but bariatric formulations are always chew or else a billion capsules per day. So I start looking at non-bariatric formulations but I don’t know if they’re good enough…

    If you offered a service to design a daily supplement schedule with brand recommendations, I’d totally pay you for that. 100% serious forrealz.

  9. Sarah says:

    This is monstrous. Monstrously terrifying. I stay on that site. It used to be for one reason only – to get out the word about the DS because it is so blatantly ignored and marginalized at the site. But I have been noticing that I have been more and more drawn into the vitamin stuff. And now? I’m going to HAVE to stick around if only to counteract this utter crap that she is spewing! OMG. This is unreal. All she cares about is her bottom line. At the expense of both hers and others’ health apparently. Does not compute. I was leery when back in the spring she was muttering about talking with vitamin companies. And then a few months ago she asked for people to send her lab results. I asked if instead she wanted my lab spreadsheet – tracking ALL of my labs for the last four years. Much better than a one-shot lab result, right? She never got back to me. Said she had to check with the “doctors.” I didn’t fit in her little box – never have though – and so a wealth of information was just thrown by the wayside. WTFever.

  10. Tia says:

    I know this is an older post, but after reading what this person said about “forgetting” to take our vitamins etc – I got so angry (and I really never heard about all of this drama, which I just read on another blog). Good grief, that’s the least of my problems post-op RNY (many yrs ago).

    Not that I have any major problems per se, I just struggle with old emotional eating issues at times. But I definitely do not like the way she’s addressing her readers. yuk!

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