Screen For Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Folic Acid After Gastric Bypass Surgery - My Bariatric Life

Patient Expert

The deciding factor for my decision to have gastric bypass surgery was my poor health. I had already been diagnosed with diabetes and sleep apnea, and the promise of coronary artery disease was never far in the shadows. The risk factors for the worst possible outcome had no doubt intensified.

Gastric bypass surgery has improved my health dramatically. I am grateful for the turnabout, and I believe I am also a bit more enlightened than I once was. Attaining improved health had complications, just as keeping that same health has challenges. I may have had an awareness of  these simplicities prior to my weight-loss surgery but feel I have grown beyond that awareness. I believe now have the knowledge I need to anchor enhanced health and well-being.

Complications of Gastric Bypass Surgery

I have learned that gastric bypass surgery normally involves complications. About 5% of weight-loss surgery patients experience some sort of complication. Ten percent experience a complication which requires an intervention by a nurse or a doctor. Complications vary in severity, ranging from infections and blood clots to vitamin deficiencies. Vitamin deficiencies are the most common complication.

Two such deficiencies are B12 and folic acid.

The Cause of Vitamin Deficiencies After Gastric Bypass

Gastric Bypass Surgery consists of stapling the stomach to create a pouch. The digestive tract is then rerouted around a portion of the small intestine. This procedure will limit the amount of food that is eaten because of the reduced size of the stomach. It also makes it more difficult to absorb vitamins, and supplements are frequently required.

Folic Acid Deficiency

Folic acid is a B-complex vitamin that helps to control metabolism. It also breaks down carbohydrates, proteins and fats into energy. Folic acid is also important for the manufacture of DNA.

A deficiency of folic acid can prevent the body from adequately making red blood cells as quickly as needed, thereby causing anemia.

Folic acid deficiency is the least common of the vitamin deficiencies that occur after gastric bypass surgery. Folic acid deficiency effects less than 1% of patients.

Foods that have folic acid in them are leafy green vegetables, fruits, dried beans, peas and nuts. Dietary supplements are also available and probably will be needed.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency

The metabolism of B12 is interconnected with folic acid. B12 is stored in the liver and is needed for the growth and replication of body cells and nervous system functions. A deficiency of B12 can cause anemia.

Symptoms of B12 deficiency anemia are weakness, fatigue, accelerated heartbeat, paleness, easy bruising, and upset stomach. Foods that contain vitamin B12 are meat, poultry, seafood. milk, cheese and eggs. Plant sources are sea plants, algae, and yeast. Supplements will more likely than not be needed by the gastric bypass patient.

The recommended dosage of B12 is 1000 milligrams per week taken sublingually. B12 injections are also available.

Regular blood testing is recommended for the gastric bypass patient to assess for deficiencies.

Gastric Bypass Truth  accessed on 4/16/12
Live Strong  accessed on 4/16/12
Thinner Times  accessed on 4/16/12
WebMD  accessed on 4/16/12

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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.