Nutritional Deficiencies After Gastric Bypass

Gastric bypass Roux-En Y surgery is effective due to the malabsorptive and restrictive elements of surgery.

The malabsorptive element of gastric bypass surgery prevents your body absorbing an excess amount of calories from the food you eat after surgery.

Limiting the amount of calories the body absorbs is an effective way to ensure the patient looses weight after surgery, and is the premise of most diets, however limiting the malabsorptive element of weight loss surgery can also limit the amount of nutrients the body absorbs.

Post-Gastric Bypass surgery patients are at high risk of nutritional deficiencies. Bariatric surgeons will advise patients on a post-surgery diet to follow and will often prescribe vitamin and mineral tablets to prevent nutritional deficiencies occuring.

The common nutritional deficiencies faced by patients after weight loss surgery are protein deficiency and vitamin D, vitamin B-12 and vitamin E deficiencies.

Patients often absorb less calcium and iron post surgery which increases the risk of complications such as anaemia in the months following surgery and arthritis later in life for gastric bypass patients.

Lack of Protein

Protein is used by the body to repair tissues and muscles. If patients are deficient in protein, there is a risk of muscle wastage and loss of muscle tissue.

The most efficient way for the body to absorb protein is through food. To prevent protein deficiencies bariatric surgeons and nutritionists recommend a post-surgery diet is comprised of 60 percent protein rich foods.

One way patients can help the body absorb correct amounts of protein from food is to eat protein rich foods, such as meat, at the begining of meals to ensure the body absorbs these nutrients first.

If a patient does become deficient in protein after gastric bypass surgery, protein supplement drinks can be integrated as part of a healthy post-surgery diet.

Vitamin Deficiencies

The body absorbs most of the vitamins from foods through the stomach and duodenum. After gastric bypass surgery, food bypasses most of the stomach and the duodenum meaning that many of the vitamins the body needs are not absorbed. Vitamin B-12 is a vitamin that is solely absorbed by the stomach.

The stomach acid breaks down proteins and separates the vitamin B-12. Vitamin B-12 deficiency can cause severe anaemia and bariatric surgeons will recommend patients include vitamin B-12 supplements in their diet after surgery.

A lack of vitamin D is often a problem post gastric bypass surgery and again, surgeons will recommend patients take supplements to counteract the risk of deficiencies caused by malabsorption.

Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiencies can occur in gastric bypass patients for two reasons: after surgery many patients reduce their intake of red meat due to the risk of dumping syndrome and iron is absorbed through the duodenum which most food bypasses after surgery.

Iron deficiencies are extremely common in women. If untreated iron deficiencies can lead to anaemia which poses serious health problems.

Iron tablets or an injection of iron supplement monthly will be recommended and patients iron levels will be tested regularly after surgery.

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