If you have chosen to get bariatric surgery, there are some things to know beforehand. One of these things is that you have a higher risk for vitamin and mineral deficiencies. With calcium, it is not so much that you are not eating healthy enough after surgery, but that the food goes into your stomach in a different way.
The stomach is made smaller with gastric bypass and other types of bariatric procedures, so there is an imbalance in how minerals like calcium are absorbed. This creates a need for supplements to let you get the right amount of all necessary nutrients.
Why Calcium is Essential
Calcium is an alkaline material that the body needs for sustaining human life, with about 99 percent of the calcium in the body existing in the bones and teeth, and just 1 percent in the body tissue, blood, and nerve cells. There is more calcium in the body than any other mineral, making it one of the most important.
With calcium, the body can grow, reproduce and remain physically healthy. Hormone secretion, muscle contractions, contracting blood vessels, and having transmissions through the nervous system are all due to calcium in the body. Calcium, like many other vitamins and minerals, is usually obtained through food sources to battle osteoporosis, which turns the bones fragile. But after bariatric surgery, food isn’t absorbed in the same manner, therefore leading to a deficiency of calcium.
Calcium Deficiency After Bariatric Surgery
One of the most common causes of osteoporosis is calcium deficiency, which is a significant risk among bariatric surgery patients. What is worse is there are very few symptoms until it advances to a later stage. Lack of calcium is common among older individuals, menopausal women, people with Crohn’s disease, people drinking heavily, and anyone who has undergone gastric bypass.
When going through weight loss surgery, part of the stomach is reduced. While this helps you lose weight by eating less and feeling fuller faster, it sets back how vitamins and minerals are absorbed. There is an imbalance in the absorption of nutrients, including a lack of calcium absorption. When this occurs, an additional calcium supplement is needed to help with the calcium in the body.
How Much Calcium is Needed?
The general recommendation for calcium overall is between 1,200 mg and 2,000 mg of calcium each day to balance out the mineral in the body and prevent bone disease and other conditions caused by a calcium deficiency.
With bariatric surgery patients, it helps to have this amount spread out multiple times a day to help with absorption. It is better to take 2-3 500 mg calcium supplements a day during different times than a single 1,500 mg supplement only once a day. The best supplement for calcium is called calcium citrate, which comes in a pill supplement that is easy to take.
Why do Bariatric Patients Require More Calcium?
As you can see, calcium is crucial to have the proper amount of, but it is also easy to avoid deficiency by taking a couple of pills a day. Since you likely have the risk of other vitamin and mineral deficiencies following bariatric surgery, it helps to take the calcium at the same time as other supplements. Keep a note of how much you are taking each day to avoid deficiency, but also avoid making more than you need.
Taking the supplement starting after you have the surgery is ideal as it prevents complications from a deficiency. Also, keep in mind that just because you are taking a supplement doesn’t mean you any longer need to focus on eating nutritious foods that contain calcium and other nutrients.