Vitamin Deficiency After Weight Loss Surgery

Weight loss surgery brings about lots of positive physical and mental changes. It reduces stress levels, improves mobility, and drastically brings down the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Besides the many remarkable benefits, there are some negative changes that some people may experience after bariatric surgery.  Patients eat less and can experience a shift in food preferences, which can lead to vitamin deficiencies. Vitamin deficiencies are because of reduced nutrient intake. Here is some information about the vitamin deficiencies that the patients of a weight loss surgery may encounter.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Symptom: Shortness of breath, weakness and general fatigue resulting from reduced hemoglobin – the molecules that carry oxygen to the rest of the body – in the body.
    • Deficient Vitamin: Iron
  • Symptom: Fatigue, weakness, and a feeling of depression – symptoms characteristic of iron deficiency. The sense of depression is the most pronounced symptom.
    • Deficient Vitamin: Vitamin B12
  • Symptom: Vomiting, nausea, irritability, depression, confusion, or memory loss occur due to lack of ability to make ATP or energy.
    • Deficient Vitamin: Vitamin B12
  • Symptom: Pain in the bones and muscles, fatigue and constant high blood pressure.
    • Deficient Vitamin: Vitamin D
  • Symptom: Numbness, cramps, and muscle spasms. Other symptoms include loss of memory or confusion, brittle nails, and weak bones.
    • Deficient Vitamin: Calcium
  • Symptom: Hair loss and brittle nails.
    • Deficient Vitamin: Biotin

Causes of Vitamin Deficiency

It is crucial for patients to keep in mind that they may have be suffering from vitamin deficiencies before the surgery was conducted. So, it is an excellent practice to get tests done before the procedure, in order to have a baseline and/or possibly address some of the issues before having weight loss surgery. Additionalsy, patients of bariatric surgery may get deficient in vitamins due to:

Malnourishment: Patients consume less amount of food after weight loss surgery to manage their weight. Without following doctor-prescribed nutrition and vitamin supplementation, this can lead to a deficiency.

Low Intake: After the bariatric surgery, patients undergo physiological changes, such as the shrinking of the stomach. It can lead to reduced food intake causing a vitamin deficiency.

Changed Food Preferences: Patients of a weight loss surgery often feel an aversion towards dairy and meat products. This sudden change in food preferences can also eliminate some vitamin sources from their daily diet.

Importance of Blood Work and follow up visits

After weight loss surgery it is recommended that patients should get tested for vitamin levels in their body. This will help their bariatric surgeon and their primary care physician understand the underlying reasons for any symptoms. They can then prescribe vitamins, modify their diet, or change their medication accordingly. In the absence of regular testing, a vitamin deficiency may get unnoticed and become worse with time. Instead of ignoring the symptoms, it is easier to get the tests done, identify the sources, and if a deficiency is detected, take corrective measures.

Final Thoughts

Fatigue and lack of energy can stem from a variety of different physical and psychological sources. The causes can range from poor sleep to stress to excessive exercising. It is not always due to lack of vitamins. Before starting any vitamin supplements after surgery, it is vital to get your blood work from a credible testing facility and have them reported to your weight loss surgeon.  As a bariatric patient, remember that your surgeon’s office should be the first place you go with abnormal symptoms or big changes in your digestive system.

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