The Importance of Vitamin D After Gastric Bypass - My Bariatric Life

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  • It is not unusual to have vitamin deficiencies following gastric bypass surgery. As a matter of fact, it is so common that patients who have had weight-loss surgery should pretty much anticipate taking vitamin supplements for the rest of their lives.

    Vitamin deficiencies after bariatric surgery may include vitamin A, B, C, D, E and K. Calcium and vitamin D deficiencies are often present prior to gastric bypass surgery and are often co-morbidities of obesity. Weight-loss surgery often exacerbate these conditions.

    Contributing Factors to Vitamin D Deficiency After Gastric Bypass

    Bypassing the small intestine is a component of gastric bypass surgery. Because most vitamins and minerals are absorbed in the small intestine, a lesser amount of these vitamins and minerals are absorbed when the intestine is shortened.

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    Vitamin D is needed for calcium absorption. Low levels of vitamin D have also been related to cancer, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular diseases.

    Vitamin D and Energy Levels After Gastric Bypass

    Vitamin D deficiency has often leads to complaints of fatigue, exhaustion, mood changes, and depression. Vitamin D deficits have a pronounced effect on energy and vitality. Vitamin D also plays a role in seasonal affective disorder, a winter malady characterized by depression due to the limited amount of sunshine in the winter months. Those gastric bypass patients who spend extended periods exposed to sunshine are much less at risk for Vitamin D deficiency because the sun is a natural source of Vitamin D.

    Osteoporosis and Vitamin D Deficiency

    Vitamin D is important for building and maintaining strong bones. Young people need Vitamin D to build sturdy bones and older adults need Vitamin D to maintain bone strength. Vitamin D deficiency lowers bone mass which can cause bones to break more easily. This thinning of bone tissue and density is osteoporosis.

    The Risk of Hypocalcaemia After Gastric Bypass

    Hypocalcaemia is a low blood calcium level. Although only a few cases of hypocalcaemia have been reported following gastric bypass, the changes in the metabolism of calcium and Vitamin D make hypocalcaemia a possibility for gastric bypass patients.

    Because of the weight-loss surgery that has been performed, calcium is absorbed less efficiently as is Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency impairs calcium absorption that much more, and the risk for hypocalcaemia increases.

    Sources of Vitamin D

    Vitamin D is most easily attained from the sun. Given the prevalence of indoor professions and the hustle and bustle of everyday living, we do not get as much sunshine a we should. Therefore, other resources are necessary.

    A vitamin D3 supplement is an excellent option and is available at any local drug store or food mart.

    Food that are high in Vitamin D are shiitake and button mushrooms, mackerel, salmon, sardines, herring, catfish, tuna, and eggs.

    Vitamin D and Calcium Requirements Following Gastric Bypass Surgery

    It is believed that calcium citrate improves the absorption of calcium. The general recommended daily dose of calcium citrate is 1500 to 2000 mg. and is taken three times per day in doses of 500 to 600 mg. Check with your bariatric surgeon or nutritionist for their recommendated daily dosages.


  • Vitamin D is needed for the absorption of calcium. Over the counter supplements are available. The recommended daily dose of Vitamin D is 800 IU to 1000 IU, but individual dosing may vary based on your specific needs. For example, I take 1000 IU twice per day. So be sure to consult your healthcare professional to determine a treatment that is best suited to your needs.

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    My Story...

    You can read about my decision to have weight loss surgery back in 2003 and my journey to maintain a lifetime of obesity disease management since that time. My wish is to help you on your own journey of lifetime obesity disease management with shareposts along the way to help you navigate that journey successfully.








Published On: March 27, 2012