Calcium After Gastric Bypass Surgery - My Bariatric Life

by Cheryl Ann Borne Patient Advocate

To any who have had gastric bypass surgery or to those considering gastric bypass surgery, you should know that intestinal calcium absorption is effected by weight-loss surgery. Forty-eight percent of patients who have had malabsorptive bariatric surgery develop a calcium deficiency.

The Importance of Calcium

Calcium is an essential element that is critical for human life. Ninety-nine percent of calcium is in teeth and bones with the remaining one percent distributed between blood, nerve cells, and tissue.

Calcium is a mineral that is essential for growth, maintenance, and reproduction. Other functions that need calcium include muscle contraction, conducting nerve impulses, regulation of heartbeat, blood clotting, and hormone secretion.
Calcium is
the most abundant mineral in the body although the body does not make it.

Calcium Deficiency

Calcium deficiency promotes osteoporosis, a disease in which the bones become porous, break easily and heal slowly. Calcium deficiency also can lead to curvature of the spine.

Groups who are susceptible to calcium deficiencies are senior citizens, post-menopausal women, heavy drinkers, people with Crohn's disease, and those who have had gastric bypass surgery involving intestinal resection.

Bariatric Surgery and Calcium

An increase in the parathyroid hormone is common in those who have had gastric bypass surgery. This increase can interfere with the thyroid's ability to maintain a calcium balance. On the other hand, low levels of calcium in the blood are equally serious that can develop due to kidney malfunction, hyperparathyroidism, or a vitamin D deficiency. There also is evidence that bariatric patients who have no history of kidney stones form calcium stones in the kidneys after weight loss-surgery.

The absorption of nutrients is affected because of the stomach-reducing aspect of weight-loss surgery.
In order to maintain a proper balance, calcium supplementation begins shortly after bariatric surgery. Following weight-loss surgery, calcium supplementation is needed daily to maintain adequate levels of calcium in the body. This is necessary because the site of active calcium absorption is bypassed after gastric bypass surgery.

Calcium Citrate Supplementation After Weight-Loss Surgery

After gastric bypass surgery, a calcium supplement will be needed because the body's ability to absorb calcium will be effected by the surgery. Calcium is present in certain foods such as dairy products like milk, yogurt and cheese. Vegetables that contain calcium include kale, broccoli and other vegetables.

The main form of calcium supplements are calcium carbonate or calcium citrate. Both are well-absorbed by gastric bypass patients, although those with decreased stomach acid will absorb calcium citrate more comfortably. Calcium combined with citrate is the top quality compound for maximum absorption of calcium.

A chewable calcium supplement is often recommended to bariatric patients because it can be absorbed more easily in the pateint's new anatomy. The recommended dosage is 500 mg two or three times daily.
Vitamin D is very important for the absorption of calcium by the body and bariatric patients must be alert for acceptable levels of vitamin D in the body after weight-loss surgery.

A bone scan may be recommended after you have had gastric bypass surgery. It is the definitive way to determine if you are getting enough calcium. If it is determined you are getting enough calcium, a two year follow-up might be recommended. If it is found you are deficient, a yearly follow-up might be requested.

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Cheryl Ann Borne
Meet Our Writer
Cheryl Ann Borne

Cheryl Ann Borne, writing as My Bariatric Life, is a contributing writer and Paleo recipe developer. Cheryl is an award-winning healthcare communications professional and obesity health advocate who has overcome super obesity and it’s related diseases. She publishes the website, and microblogs on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Cheryl is also writing her first book and working on a second website.