Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12 deficiency is one of the most often seen nutritional deficits after gastric bypass surgery, especially the Roux-en-Y procedure. Therefore, B12 supplements are a necessary component to obtaining a well-rounded bariatric diet.
Because the liver stores a few years worth of B12, signs of deficiency may not arise until several years after a procedure. Even so, studies show that as many as 70 percent of gastric bypass patients exhibit low levels of B12 in only 12 months post-surgery.
Why is monitoring Vitamin B12 intake so crucial for a bariatric patient?
Vitamin B12 & Intrinsic Factor
B12 makes its way into the body via mucous membranes inside the mouth. From there, tiny amounts transmit to the stomach, where the B12 connects itself to “intrinsic factor,” also referred to as “IF”. Intrinsic Factor is a protein produced by cells in the lining of the stomach and is required to help the intestines absorb B12 inside a portion of the stomach called the Ileum.
When a bariatric patient has Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, the part of the stomach that produces the “Intrinsic Factor” is removed. Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy patients retain a more substantial portion of the stomach required for IF production, however, the amount of IF secreted is lessened by the procedure.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency Symptoms
Eight B-Vitamins comprise the group hailed as B-Complex vitamins; all of these vitamins help convert food into fuel, for use as a source of energy. The B12 vitamin is water soluble and not stored in the body, which is why eating a diet rich in B Complex vitamins is imperative for healthy skin, liver, hair, eyes, and a well-functioning nervous system.
The premise behind Gastric Bypass surgery is to help restrict the amount of food ingested, which aids the patient’s weight loss. But, limiting food intake also reduces the amount of Vitamin B12 the patient absorbs, and therein lies the rub.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency can lead to symptoms such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Gastric Distress
- “Pins and needles” or tingling in the toes and fingers
- Intense fatigue
- Irritability or nervousness
In more severe cases, this deficiency can bring on other problems like loss of muscle strength, forgetfulness, pale skin, dizziness, anxiety, soreness or burning of the tongue, vision changes, rapid heartbeat, altered moods, and pernicious anemia.
Bariatric Diet Supplementation
Sources of animal protein like chicken, beef, seafood, and their by-products such as dairy are where most people get Vitamin B12. So, when limiting food consumption, it makes sense that supplements of Vitamin B12 are essential for a strong Bariatric Diet.
B12 is not well absorbed when swallowed in pill form, but is more effective when taken sublingually (under the tongue), in liquid or spray form, or by injections.
Our team at The Bariatric Experts prescribes the most effective methods for ensuring our patients have the right levels of B12 in their bodies to retain optimal health. It isn’t just about losing weight, it is also about improving the general health of our patients. To schedule a consultation, please contact us today!