As an umbrella term incorporating a variety of procedures among which gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, adjustable gastric band, or biliopancreatic diversion, bariatric surgery is basically an operation designed to help individuals lose weight.
While bariatric surgery is all about lowering death rates, and improving health and the quality of life of overweight patients, non-compliance with post surgery vitamin and mineral guidelines may result in serious illness. And since gastric surgery is a life-changing procedure that more and more people are interested in, in this post we’ll have a look at some bariatric vitamin intake principals anyone thinking about attempting this intervention should know about.
Patients that just had bariatric surgery don’t have the capacity to consume enough food to get the adequate amounts of key vitamins their bodies require to function properly. This happens because in an surgically altered stomach, digestive enzymes become reduced, limiting the breakdown of food as it passes into the digestive tract. Individuals that have gone through, or are planning to have bariatric surgery in the future, need to know that to prevent post surgery complications, they will need to adhere to a very strict diet. Vitamin and mineral supplements will be a lifelong requirement, the quantity depending on the operation’s degree of vitamin malabsorption. Bariatric multivitamins in liquid form are recommended over solid ones, not only for better absorption, but also because they are also much gentle on the stomach.
2. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin our bodies rely on, to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. A lack of vitamin D will prevent calcium and phosphate from being regulated, which can lead to many serious diseases including osteomalacia, depresion, and even certain types of cancers. If normal adults just need 20 min of staying in the sun to get their daily Vitamin D intake, doctors recommended high doses of vitamin D supplementation for bariatric patients, ranging from 3,000 IU daily to 50,000 IU 1-3 times weekly in case of severe malabsorption.
Just like Vitamin D, Calcium too is essential for building strong bones and keeping them strong as we get older. And since calcium is a mineral which is essential for life but our body cannot produce it by itself, we can either get calcium from the foods we eat, or from using a high quality supplement. To prevent calcium deficiency and bone disease following bariatric surgery, patients should take 1,200 to 2,000 mg daily of calcium chews, divided in three doses throughout the day.
Although not too many people understand the importance of iron, a deficiency of this mineral can translate into dizziness, fatigue, or light-headedness, a fast heart rate or brittle nails. Iron deficiency is highly common in both adults and children, that’s why bariatric surgery patients need to be extra careful about this aspect, and have regular blood tests to check whether they need to increase their iron intake more than the 180 to 220 mg per day recommendation.
Like in the case of many other vitamins and nutrients, B12 will also be poorly absorbed in the body following bariatric surgery. Severe B12 deficiency can lead to soreness in the mouth, numbness or stiffness, shooting pains, strange hot and cold sensations, and even brain damage. And because B12 is best absorbed when injected, shots of this vitamin are the preferred treatment for patients who develop a deficiency following bariatric surgery.