Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
As you have likely read, both before your procedure and in your aftercare packet, one of the most common, but easily managed considerations after bariatric surgery is getting enough vitamins and minerals. When your food consumption is limited, either through restriction by making the stomach smaller or malabsorption, where caloric absorption in the intestine is limited, we run the risk of not getting sufficient nutrients. While this may be good for weight loss, it can affect our health in significant ways.
It is worth noting that vitamin deficiencies vary dramatically between procedures. For example, gastric bypass patients tend to have much greater risk of vitamin deficiencies versus gastric sleeve patients, due to the malabsorption created by bypassing of part of the small intestine.
Oftentimes, we downplay the importance of vitamins and minerals in our health. For example, it is important to know that Vitamin D is the catalyst for calcium absorption. Therefore, patients who have a D3 deficiency, may not be able to absorb enough calcium no matter how many supplements they take. In other words, both calcium and vitamin D play a role in preventing bone loss. There are many more examples of how vitamins work together to keep us healthy.
Managing Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
The typical follow-up plan for a bariatric patient involves several postop visits within the first year, two visits in the second year, followed by an annual visit thereafter. During some of these visits, blood tests will be ordered to check for any vitamin or mineral deficiencies. The most common deficiencies include Vitamin B12, iron, calcium, Vitamin D and more. We can manage these very easily and effectively and rarely do nutritional deficiencies reach the point where are they seriously and adversely affect you.
You will be started on a daily multivitamin which should take care of basic nutritional concerns due to reduced food intake. You will also be screened periodically for specific vitamin deficiencies and will begin supplementation, if needed, thereafter.
You will also supplement their protein intake, for various reason. First, protein allows you to feel full longer. It is also essential to keeping you full and helping you lose additional weight. Protein minimizes hair loss, speeds up recovery and helps fight the risk of infection. You will not be able to get the 80g of protein required every day from food alone. Therefore, you will supplement with protein shakes and meal replacements to reach that number.
Hydration is also key after surgery and while it does not directly affect nutritional supplementation, it is worth noting because water plays such a big role in recovery and long-term weight loss. You will be required to get at least 64 ounces of water or no-sugar, no-calorie liquid equivalent per day. This requirement may increase based on your body type and activity level.
Ultimately, managing potential vitamin and mineral deficiencies simply requires good follow-up, planning and ensuring that you’re getting enough of the nutrients you need every day. Of course, if you have any questions about your supplementation plan, we are here to help.