Bariatric surgery is a category of weight loss surgeries that help the individual lose weight and keep it off. While the surgery has a high success rate, there are some disadvantages like vitamin deficiencies. About 50 percent of patients that have bariatric surgery experience vitamin deficiencies.
Not only are they eating and drinking less than they were previously, but many vitamins, like B12, are absorbed differently due to the changes in the stomach’s structure and size. Since B12 is such as essential vitamin for everyone to have in their body, the deficiency can lead to illness quickly. For this reason, many bariatric patients are given a supplement after surgery to ensure they are getting the right amount of vitamins.
By getting enough vitamin B12, they can continue living a healthy lifestyle while they are recovering from the surgery.
What is B12?
Vitamin B12 is one of the eight essential B vitamins that everyone needs in their body. This vitamin, in particular, helps with the brain and nervous system, but most importantly the metabolism. The vitamin is essential for forming red blood cells and providing protein for the entire body. Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that also goes by the name Cobalamin. It is also the largest and complex vitamin there is.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency after Bariatric Surgery
While anyone can have a deficiency of vitamin B12, it is more common among people that undergo bariatric surgery. In fact, vitamin B12 is one of the essential vitamins to have a deficiency of after gastric bypass surgery, the most popular bariatric procedure.
For most people, the absorption of vitamin B12 starts in the mouth where small amounts of the vitamin are absorbed under the tongue through the mucous membranes. It then combines with different compounds in the stomach and intestines. With gastric bypass, the food doesn’t reach this part of the stomach, leading to a vitamin deficiency.
Typical symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency include:
- slow reflexes
- sore tongue
- menstrual issues
After having bariatric weight loss surgery, taking a vitamin B12 supplement is the best way to get enough vitamins in your system. After surgery, you are on a particular liquid vitamin regime, and your body is getting used to changes in nutrition you are consuming. It may not be possible to get enough of the vitamin through food sources so that you will rely on a vitamin supplement.
Many doctors advise patients to get a supplement that is sublingual, which means it goes through the mucous membranes under the tongue. It is a particular type of delivery of vitamins that is adequate for proper absorption. For severe vitamin B12 deficiency, you can also get injections of the supplement by a doctor.
Natural Food Sources
Another way to get vitamin B12 is with natural food sources, but many people who have just gone through bariatric surgery don’t get enough since food is so limited shortly after surgery. However, once you start returning to solid foods, you can get a good amount of vitamin B12 from fortified breakfast cereal, miso, tempeh, kelp, and some dairy products.
It is best to begin taking a vitamin B12 supplement right after surgery, instead of waiting for the signs and symptoms to surface. Since it is so common, taking the supplement beforehand avoids these potential illnesses and conditions that can make recovery that much more difficult. By having the right balance of vitamins and nutrients, you can focus more on recovery and your weight loss journey. If after some time you find that you don’t need the supplements anymore, consult your doctor about switching to natural food sources.
Look into signing up with MexicoBariatricCenter’s new Bariatric Vitamin and Nutritionist Program.