Nutritional Deficiencies after Bariatric Surgery

April 7, 2015

Vitamin deficiencies are a possible side effect of bariatric surgery. The degree to which a patient may experience nutritional deficiencies largely depends on several factors. First, is the person himself or herself – many people have difficulty with the absorption of one vitamin or another. Some have chronic Vitamin B12 deficiencies while others will have trouble retaining Vitamin D. Over the course of time, with proper testing, we will be able to understand the root of these deficiencies and address them.

Second is the procedure performed. The malabsorptive components (where part of the small intestine is bypassed) of a gastric bypass or duodenal switch lend themselves to a greater chance for nutritional deficiencies than purely restrictive procedures such as the gastric band or gastric sleeve.

Finally, your lifestyle will play a key role. Remember, after surgery, you will likely not be able to get all of your vitamins and minerals from food alone – even those that are nutrient dense.

The most common nutritional deficiencies are:

  • Vitamin B12 and other B Vitamins
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin C
  • Iron
  • Micronutrients

Management of Nutritional Deficiencies

Before and after your bariatric procedure, you will receive a comprehensive blood test. This will include readings on vitamin and mineral levels that will show any deficiencies. Based in part on these blood counts, we will prescribe appropriate vitamin and nutritional supplements in order to avoid any complications in the future. Most patients, no matter what procedure they have undergone, will stay on a daily multivitamin for the foreseeable future. This multivitamin is usually sufficient to ward off most possible deficiencies. Blood counts will be taken approximately once a year after the first year post surgery. Between blood tests, however it is important that you report any strange feelings to your primary care physician or our office. Even the slightest nutritional deficiency may cause noticeable side effects.

A Note On Protein

Protein is one of the most important nutrients you can consume after surgery. Not only does protein allows the body to heal faster, but it also allows for better long-term weight loss. Protein is much more dense than carbohydrates and fats and therefore stays in the alimentary system longer. This means that patients will feel full for a longer period of time. It is virtually impossible to consume the amount of protein that you need each day through food alone. That is why we advocate protein supplementation in the form of shakes or bars. Be sure that these protein supplements do not contain high fat and high sugar, as that will only work against your diet. Refer to your post-bariatric surgery patient packet for guidance on protein intake.

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Advanced Surgical Associates is one of the first exclusively surgical groups practicing in Union County New Jersey. And that is just the first of many firsts for ASA. For over 40 years, we have pioneered breakthrough surgical patient care in North Jersey in both general and weight loss surgery. ASA also offers gastric bypass, gastric sleeve and gastric banding to those suffering from obesity in New Jersey.
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