Thiamine Deficiency After Gastric Bypass Surgery - My Bariatric Life

Patient Expert

Weight-loss surgery can be a conduit to remarkable changes in life. For me, my gastric bypass surgery  led to  the happiness in life that I had imagined and hoped for, the confidence that I pined for, and the physical appearance that I desired. And my relationships both personal and professional improved and flourished, which was an unexpected and happy outcome of my massive 100-lb weight-loss  from obesity surgery. In fact, virtually everything in life became new and exciting once I lost that weight.

But there must be work to maintain the new status quo. I did not get a free pass to remain fit and trim for the rest of my life. The labor of not being obese lasts for a lifetime; my lifestyle has been permanently altered. Among many lifestyle changes following my gastric bypass surgery, I adhere to a regiment of vitamin supplements. This is true of any bariatric surgery, however the specific supplements may vary depending on the type of weight-loss surgery had.

Thiamin Deficiency is Common

Thiamin deficiency following gastric bypass surgery is quite common and has been reported in as much as forty-nine percent of the patient population. This is owing to thiamin being best absorbed in the duodenum, a section that is bypassed in bariatric surgery. Therefore, absorption is decreased and thiamin levels become deficient.

What is Thiamin?

Thiamin, or vitamin B1, is a water-soluble vitamin that is found in many foods including whole-grain foods, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, vegetables, legumes, and orange and tomato juices. Thiamine is not present in fats or certain sugars.

The body is incapable of producing thiamin and can store only 30mg in tissues. It is mostly in skeletal muscles but also can be found in the brain, heart, liver, and kidneys. Its storage in the body is limited, and it can be exhausted quickly.

Thiamin is needed for carbohydrate metabolism, nerve conduction, and the actions of the heart and muscles.

Thiamin Deficiency Symptoms

Thiamin deficiency symptoms can include vomiting, double-vision, confusion, forgetfulness, disorientation, troubles with walking, extreme weakness of the legs, and troubles with balance. Those with diabetes -- a common comorbidity of obesity --  or chronic vomiting have the greatest risk for thiamin deficiency.

Thiamin Deficiency Complications

The greatest cause of thiamin deficiency worldwide is poor diet, although in Western countries the primary causes are alcoholism, chronic illness, and cancer. Thiamin deficiencies are best known for causing beriberi. Although beriberi has been almost eradicated worldwide, it is an illness that remains a dangerous possibility for those who

have had weight-loss surgery.

The diet for a bariactric patient is restricted. Because of this, a deficiency of thiamin is more likely. The  body does not store great amounts of thiamin to begin with and, given

the new restrictive diet, the potential for deficiency is possible. Such deficiencies can be serious and sometimes irreversible.

Supplementation is most important in the weeks that immediately follow bariatric surgery

or at any time when vomiting persists for an unpleasantly long time.

Additional serious complications from a thiamin deficiency are  Wernicke's encephalopathy and Korsakoff's syndrome.

What is Beriberi?

There are two types of beriberi that are found in adult populations: dry beriberi and wet beriberi.

Dry beriberi damages peripheral nerves and can cause wasting and partial paralysis. Characteristics of dry beriberi are difficulty walking, loss of sensation in the hands and feet, loss of muscle function in the lower legs, confusion, pain, and vomiting.

Wet beriberi affects the heart and can be fatal. Characteristics include peripheral edema, quickened heart rate, and swelling of the lower legs.

What is Wernicke's Encephalopathy?

Wernicke's encephalopathy is a syndrome characterized by ataxia (the inability to coordinate the movement of the muscles), ophthalmoplegia (a paralysis or or weakness of one or more of the muscles that control eye movement), confusion and impaired short-term memory.

What is Korsakoff's Syndrome?

Korsakoff's syndrome is a brain disorder caused by lack of thiamine. Korsakoff's syndrome is part of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, which consists of two separate but related stages: Wernicke's encephalopathy and Korsakoff's syndrome. However, not all cases of Korsakoff's syndrome are preceded by an episode of Wernicke's.

Thiamin Dosage

You should consult your healthcare professional regarding the use of any vitamins and supplements to ensure the proper treatment regimen based on your specific needs and health condition. Given that, thiamin is a tablet that is usually taken three times per day

with meals. Thiamin tablets usually do not have side effects.

Wink  Please "heart" this article  to support future weight-loss surgery topics on HealthCentral. Thank you!** 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.