How Common are Vitamin & Mineral Deficiencies After Bariatric Surgery?
Whether you’ve recently undergone bariatric surgery, or you are thinking about having the weight loss procedure done, you should be aware that it’s common for post-surgical patients to experience deficiencies in some nutrients because of the stomach’s smaller food capacity. Some of these nutrients include calcium, iron, folic acid and vitamin B1, all of which are essential to good health.
Calcium is necessary for you to maintain healthy, strong and dense bones and teeth, and it also plays a part in neurotransmission and muscle contraction. Calcium is also necessary for blood clotting and a healthy heart. A calcium deficiency can lead to rickets, a condition that can cause bone fractures and possible deformation.
It can also result in osteoporosis in women, a similar degenerative condition. Vitamin D is needed for the body to absorb calcium, which is why nutritional supplements and multivitamins with calcium usually also contain vitamin D.
Iron, also a necessary nutrient, carries oxygen to tissues from the lungs and acts as a transport vehicle for electrons in cells. In addition, iron helps your muscles use and store oxygen, and it plays an important part in tissue enzyme reactions. An iron deficiency can lead to fatigue, hair loss, irritability, restlessness and other troubling conditions.
More serious deficiencies can cause anemia, a condition in which your red blood cell count is low. This, in turn, can lead to an irregular or fast heartbeat, pregnancy complications, and delayed growth in children and infants.
Folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, is essential for the body to synthesize and repair DNA in cells, and it’s also critical for cell growth and division. Without enough folic acid, the body is susceptible to diarrhea, nerve damage, weakness, pregnancy complications, forgetfulness and mental depression.
People deficient in folic acid can also suffer from ulcers, heart palpitations, headaches and behavioral disorders. In addition, low levels of folic acid are associated with certain cancers.
Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, is important for many cell processes in the body, particularly in the eyes, the brain and the nervous system. Deficiencies of vitamin B1 can lead to severe memory loss or amnesia, confusion, blackouts, apathy, loss of vision and nerve damage. Other conditions it can cause are weakness, paralysis, limb pain, irregular heartbeat and emotional disturbances.
Severe deficiencies of vitamin B1 or iron can be fatal. Deficiencies in folic acid or calcium have serious health consequences.
Therefore, it’s critical for bariatric surgery patients to compensate for all these possible nutritional deficiencies following their operation. Fortunately, taking a daily multivitamin and eating a relatively healthy diet will provide most patients with all the essential nutrients in the quantities that they need.
If you have specific questions about any of these nutrients, how they’re used in your body, and how they’re impacted by bariatric surgery, ask your doctor or healthcare services provider.