Essential Vitamins and Minerals after Bariatric Surgery for Optimal Health - My Bariatric Life

by Cheryl Ann Borne Patient Advocate

his article
is part of
a series on Living Well after Gastric Bypass that covers diet, nutrition, and weight control. If you are a bariatric patient, I ask you to take two things to heart: #1 Vitamins and Minerals are Very Important #2 Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies are Seriouitamins and Minerals are Very Important

Vitamins and minerals are essential for nearly all biochemical processes necessary for life. Vitamins and minerals are needed to produce energy, fight disease and repair injured tissue. People who have undergone gastric bypass surgery and other weight-loss surgeries have increased need for vitamins and minerals.

Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies are Serious

It is not unusual to have vitamin deficiencies following weight-loss surgery. Bypassing the small intestine is a component of gastric bypass surgery that decreases the amount of calories absorbed from food, and thus aids in weight loss. Likewise, since 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.

As a gastric bypass patient, I have experience both iron deficiencies and overloads of Vitamin B12, which have led to health consequences.

In the near-term, iron-deficiency anemia, pernicious anemia, and osteoporosis (in both sexes) may develop, although usually not in the first postoperative year.

In the long-term, a diminished intake of vitamins and minerals may raise the risk of chronic disease, including cardiovascular disease, colon cancer, bone fractures and birth defects. Too heavy intake of vitamins and minerals may increase the risk of cancer, heart attack, osteoporosis, and stroke.

Detecting Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies

Patients who have had weight-loss surgery should anticipate taking vitamin and mineral supplements for the rest of their lives. In addition to a nutritious diet, iron, calcium, vitamin B12 sublingual, and a multi-vitamin are widely recommended by bariatric surgeons.
However, this is a minimum requirement and you likely will need additional vitamin and mineral supplements to achieve optimal health.

Bariatric patients should receive annual lab testing to check vitamin and mineral levels in their blood work - sooner if fatigue and/or shortness of breath are present as these could be signs of deficiencies.

Determining Your Vitamin and Mineral Needs

Be aware that iron and vitamin B12 needs will differ from person to person. It is only by checking blood levels that you and your healthcare professional will be able to determine the dosage that is right for you, as well as any other supplements you may need.
I had to go through a series of blood tests over the course of a few months to get my iron and B12 dosage right. Too much or too little iron and B12 can have serious health implications. You will want to be sure that you are giving your new body the best chance for optimal health.

What to read next: Water Loading After Gastric Bypass Surgery References:

Johns Hopkins White Papers, Nutrition and Weight Control,
accessed 10-5-12

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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.