Post Bariatric Surgery Nutrition

If you’ve had weight loss surgery, then vitamin B12 should be part of your lifelong post bariatric surgery nutrition regimen. This is because patients of bariatric surgery (or other weight loss surgeries, such as lap band surgery) are at high risk for vitamin B12 deficiency. Also, including vitamin B12 in your post bariatric surgery nutrition plan is instrumental to weight loss success, as vitamin B12 boosts energy, supports a healthy metabolism, and maintains feelings of wellbeing. Here are some important tips for getting enough nutrition post-bariatric surgery.

Vitamin B12 deficiency and bariatric surgery

Vitamin B12 is a vital nutrient found in protein sources such as meats, cheeses, and other animal-based foods. Unless you follow a vegan diet, you probably eat a steady diet of B12-rich foods. Still, certain factors can inhibit your ability to grab vitamin B12 from the foods you eat and break it down, leading to vitamin B12 deficiency. Post bariatric surgery nutrition standards apply here, for the following reason:

In order to process vitamin B12, your body relies on a digestive enzyme called intrinsic factor- a necessary component to vitamin B12 absorption. Intrinsic factor, which is produced in the stomach, bonds with vitamin B12 and “escorts” it through the digestive system, protecting it from harm and helping to distribute this vital nutrient to the bloodstream.

Unfortunately, one of the side effects of gastric bypass surgery is the inability to manufacture intrinsic factor. Removal of the ileum, the bottommost portion of the small intestines, impairs your body’s ability to produce or access this vital digestive enzyme. Over time, as your vitamin B12 levels plummet, you develop vitamin B12 deficiency-pernicious anemia, which causes depleted red blood cells, nerve damage, and low energy.

Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency may include fatigue, memory loss, depression, anxiety, painful numbness or pricking sensations in the extremities, and muscle spasms.

Only by including vitamin B12 in your post bariatric surgery nutrition regimen can you prevent neurological damage caused by vitamin B12 deficiency.

Vitamin B12 lifts energy

Vitamin B12 supports many important biochemical reactions in your body that are essential for succeeding at weight loss, in addition to maintaining optimum health.

In order to sustain weight loss achieved through bariatric surgery, you need to stay active. Doctors recommend exercising at least 4-5 times per week, alternating aerobic and strength training workouts.

Vitamin B12 helps you meet these goals by converting carbohydrates into energy. Without enough vitamin B12 to sustain energy levels, you may feel fatigued or sore after exercise. By including vitamin B12 in your post bariatric surgery nutrition plan, you are giving your body the nutrients it needs to keep energy levels up and raise athletic endurance during your workout.

Vitamin B12 lifts the mood

Another important factor to successful weight loss is mood. Studies show that when you feel good, you make better food choices. By keeping a positive outlook, your chances of sticking to your diet are that much greater. Likewise, when you feel depressed or anxious, you are more likely to choose “comfort foods” over healthy, nutritious food items.

Vitamin B12 helps balance your mood by imparting an overall sense of wellbeing and calmness. Also, by maintaining healthy levels of vitamin B12, you prevent mood disorders associated with vitamin B12 deficiency, such as depression, anxiety, and restlessness. For emotional wellness, your post bariatric surgery nutrition regimen should include vitamin B12 shots or one of several over-the-counter (OTC) non-dietary forms of vitamin B12.