Nutritional deficiencies after gastric bypass surgery

Post surgery

By pH health care professionals

Gastric bypass surgery is about more than just losing weight. In some cases, especially for people who are morbidly obese, it can save their lives. Rosie O’Donnell is a perfect example. She says she tried so many different diets to lose weight and was hesitant about going the surgical route. But ultimately, it was a heart attack that nearly killed her and prompted her to undergo gastric bypass surgery. But like any treatment, there can be side effects.

Did you know gastric bypass surgery (the most common type of weight loss surgery) can cause vitamin and mineral deficiencies? It makes sense when you think about it. The surgery changes how your stomach and intestine handle the food you eat, altering the natural absorption of nutrients. The most common deficiencies from gastric bypass surgery are vitamin B12, folate, zinc, iron, copper, calcium and vitamin D, which may lead to problems like osteoporosis, anemia and neurological issues.

To address this common problem, patients may start taking a multivitamin after surgery. But one study found that three years later, even with a multivitamin, about half of the patients had an iron deficiency, and around a third had a vitamin B12 deficiency. People who have gastric bypass surgery are especially vulnerable to B12 deficiency, because their digestive tracts have been altered in a way that interferes with B12 absorption.

This is a topic discussed in the book, Minerals - The Forgotten Nutrient: Your Secret Weapon for Getting and Staying Healthy. For example, copper deficiency is a known side effect of gastric bypass surgery. Why does this matter? Copper is important for enzyme reactions in the body, and without enough fewer reactions happen.

One of these reactions involves energy production in the body. Our bodies have little energy factories inside the cell, known as mitochondria, which create little energy packets, from the food you eat, known as ATP. You need ATP for everything from getting up in the morning, to digesting your food, to thinking and to pursuing a romantic partner! Without enough copper, your body can’t make enough of the ATP it needs.

How can you be proactive?

If you have an upcoming weight loss surgery or if you recently had surgery, be proactive and talk to your doctor about testing for nutritional deficiencies. Even if you start taking a multivitamin, testing is the only way to know whether your body has enough critical vitamins and minerals.

Enjoy Your Healthy Life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, health care attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. To learn more about the pH Health Care Team, click here.


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Minerals - The Forgotten Nutrient: Your Secret Weapon for Getting and Staying Healthy