Weight loss surgery is an excellent option for men and women who want to improve their quality of life. Knowing what to expect can help you determine if this treatment is right for you. Following bariatric surgery, it is typical for patients to develop certain nutritional deficiencies. In particular, vitamin B12 is one of the most common. Also called cobalamin, vitamin B12 is responsible for making DNA and for helping support nerve and blood cells. Our team at the Tijuana Bariatric Center in Tijuana, MX, educates patients on the dangers of vitamin B12 deficiency after bariatric surgery so they can enjoy a safe outcome and healthier lifestyle.
There are three steps involved in the body’s absorption of vitamin B12. First, small amounts of the nutrient are absorbed through mucous membranes when food begins to break down in the mouth. When food reaches the stomach, hydrochloric acid separates the vitamin B12 from the protein food source. Finally, the nutrient reattaches to a protein created by the stomach called intrinsic factor. During certain types of bariatric surgery, the portion of the stomach in which intrinsic factor is made is actually bypassed. With no stimulation from food, this portion of the stomach does not produce intrinsic factor so the body is unable to absorb an adequate amount of the nutrient. It should be noted that nearly all cases of vitamin B12 deficiency are the result of the inability to absorb the nutrient rather than inadequate ingestion through dietary choices.
Many individuals – whether they have undergone bariatric surgery or not – may not realize they have a vitamin B12 deficiency. However, there are a few characteristic signs and symptoms that could indicate this type of nutritional deficiency. Those lacking adequate amounts of vitamin B12 may experience:
Animal-based proteins are the best source of vitamin B12. This includes foods such as shrimp, venison, chicken, lean beef, liver, and scallops. Vegetarians can obtain this nutrient through foods such as dairy, miso, tempeh, kelp, and fortified breakfast cereals. No matter what your unique dietary needs, our nutritionist, Linda Cardona, can help you determine the most efficient ways to obtain adequate vitamin B12 in your diet.
There are plenty of vitamin B12 supplements available on the market today. It is important to ask your doctor or your nutritionist which option will deliver the best results for you. One of the most common types of supplements is a sublingual delivery method, which can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream by placing tablets under the tongue. This version of absorption is especially beneficial for patients who have undergone weight loss surgery.
If you are considering bariatric surgery, or have already undergone treatment, it is important to fully understand the changes that will take place in your body once your recovery is complete. Aside from vitamin B12 deficiency, there are also other nutrients you may be lacking. We can help you design a personalized nutrition plan to enhance your results and chances of success after bariatric surgery. To schedule a consultation with one of our doctors, contact us online or call one of our three office locations.