More people in the U.S. are suffering from obesity and many are choosing gastric bypass surgery in order to quickly lose weight.  This procedure produces results much faster than is possible with the standard low-calorie diet and exercise routine.  Aside from the risks inherent in any surgical procedure, there is the risk of the patient suffering from nutrient deficiencies over the long term, which can be life threatening.

With gastric bypass surgery, the stomach is only able to accommodate 1 – 2 tablespoons of food.  Furthermore the area of the stomach and upper part of the small intestine, the duodenum, may be bypassed and this is an important area for the absorption of nutrients.  So without this part of the stomach, the patient’s intake of micronutrients is severely diminished and it will be necessary to take vitamins and minerals in the form of supplementation after surgery.

Vitamins & Minerals for Gastric Bypass

Bariatric Vitamins

Gastric Bypass Nutrient Absorption

The other factors causing the malabsorption of nutrients is the amount of hydrochloric acid, which is needed to absorb calcium and iron, and an intrinsic factor required for absorbing vitamin B12 is greatly reduced due to the diminished size of the stomach.  These vitamins and minerals need an acidic environment in order to be absorbed, which no longer exists without gastric acid, so supplementation is necessary.  So the acidic form of calcium, calcium citrate works best and 500 mg elemental calcium three times a day is recommended.  Calcium an iron should be taken separately to avoid interfering with each other.  After the surgery the foods containing vitamin B12 no longer mix with gastric acid, which is also required for B12 to be absorbed.  It is recommended that Vitamin B12 be taken in a sublingual form or by injection directly into the muscle.

Thiamin, folate, zinc, selenium, chromium and other vitamin and minerals have trouble with absorption and can be taken in the form of supplements or by way of injection.  Vitamin A, B complex, B6, C, D, E, K, magnesium, electrolytes plus the nutrients mentioned above can also be administered via injection into the muscle or through IV directly into the bloodstream.  Please consult your MD for the best method for each and for you personally.

Nutritional Deficiencies form Gastric Bypass Can Cause:

  • Difficulty with concentration and thinking clearly
  • Sleep disorders
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Muscle go into spasm
  • Weakening of the bones – Osteoporosis
  • Bone pain or deformities in the bone
  • Hair loss
  • Thinning skin, dry skin or other skin conditions
  • Bleeding gums
  • Tooth decay or discoloration
  • Increased bruising and tendency to bleed
  • Anemia
  • Neurological issues
  • Nerve damage, feeling of pins and needles
  • Tongue swelling or soreness
  • Swollen legs
  • The edges of the mouth become cracked
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Weakening of immune system to fight off infections
  • Dehydration

The Advantages of Administering Nutrients through an IV

It is critical for gastric bypass patients to take nutritional supplements because deficiencies will progress and can cause life threatening risks to one’s health.  To be sure that the patient is getting the nutrients they need, intravenous administration is recommended.  With IV therapy high doses of vitamins and minerals can be easily delivered to the bloodstream where they will immediately be absorbed into the system. Specialty testing can be done to determine each patient’s nutrient deficiencies and the proper treatment for administering these nutrients.

A healthy well rounded diet must still be maintained as supplements cannot substitute for whole foods in the patient’s daily diet.