According to health reports, vitamin B12 deficiency in bariatric surgery patients is on the rise. But before you commit to bariatric surgery, you need to know how it will affect your body’s absorption of necessary vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin B12 (cobalamin). In some cases, vitamin B12 deficiency can be just as debilitating as morbid obesity.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
If you’ve been struggling to lose weight for most of your life, then you may be considering a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass procedure. Before you go under the knife, you should know the health risks involved with bariatric surgery; vitamin B12 deficiency is one of the most common deficiencies observed after weight loss surgery. Bariatric patients are at an increased risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiency because their digestive tracts have been altered in such a way as to interfere with the natural absorption of this crucial vitamin.
Signs of severe vitamin B12 deficiency include depression, memory loss, chronic fatigue, brain fog, anxiety, and musculoskeletal disorders. (Read this: Vitamin Deficiency symptoms List)
Vitamin B12 is needed for healthy red blood cells and cognitive excellence, plus it protects the nerve cells from harm. So when vitamin B12 levels plummet, as they often do a few years post-bariatric surgery, patients begin to suffer symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency that affect memory, mental health, and nervous system integrity.
Bariatric Surgery Causes Malabsorption
In healthy adults, vitamin B12 is broken down in the acidic environment of the stomach. Intrinsic factor, which is released by the parietal cells in the stomach, then binds with vitamin B12 in the duodenum. The bound vitamin B12 is then absorbed in the ileum.
During gastric bypass surgery, however, the portions of the gastrointestinal tract responsible for making intrinsic factor, most of the stomach and duodenum, are bypassed, limiting the breakdown of vitamin B12 and its subsequent binding with intrinsic factor, causing vitamin B12 malabsorption, or the inability to digest vitamin B12 naturally from foods or even pill form.
You cannot absorb enough vitamin B12 to prevent severe vitamin B12 deficiency.
Without the right type of supplementation, your vitamin B12 levels will slowly decline, along with your health.
Which kind of B12 is best?
For patients of bariatric surgery, only very miniscule amounts of vitamin B12 are absorbed through the digestive tract; this true for vitamin B12 food sources and vitamin B12 in a pill form. It doesn’t matter if you swallow a vitamin B12 pill whole or get your vitamin B12 in chewable or liquid form; once you’ve had bariatric surgery, vitamin B12 if ingested via the digestive tract will not be absorbed into the body.
To prevent severe vitamin B12 deficiency in patients of gastric bypass or other bariatric surgery, vitamin B12 supplements that deposit B12 molecules directly into the bloodstream are the only real option. There are several non-oral methods of supplying vitamin B12 that are available by prescription or over the counter.
How much vitamin B12 should I take?
Most vitamin B12 supplements are 1,000mcg. Your doctor may recommend weekly, biweekly, or monthly doses of vitamin B12.
For optimum results in preventing vitamin B12 deficiency, bariatric surgery patients may take as much vitamin B12 as they need to prevent debilitating symptoms, as there is no upper limit for vitamin B12 under FDA guidelines, so no risk of overdosing or experiencing any negative side effects.
Plus, the extra vitamin B12 may help with weight loss, as B12 boosts energy, promotes good metabolism, and sustains healthy mental balance.
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