Bariatric Surgery: Frequently Asked Question Video About Vitamin Supplements Post Bariatric Surgery

Michelle Phelan, nutritionist at Blossom Bariatrics, responds to a question about essential vitamin supplements to take post bariatric surgery.

The National Institute of Health’s (NIH) MedLine Plus online service states that B vitamins, “help the process your body uses to get or make energy from the food you eat. They also help form red blood cells. You can get B vitamins from proteins such as fish, poultry, meat, eggs, and dairy products. Leafy green vegetables, beans, and peas also have B vitamins.”

However, for bariatric surgery patients, diet alone will not provide the required nutrition.

The NIH’s Office of Dietary Supplements warns that bariatric surgery “reduces the amount of vitamin B12, particularly food-bound vitamin B12, that the body releases and absorbs,” and advises that, “Individuals undergoing these surgical procedures should be monitored preoperatively and postoperatively for several nutrient deficiencies, including vitamin B12 deficiency.”

Tamara from Thousand Oaks, California experienced B vitamin deficiency after bariatric surgery and asked Michelle Phelan, nutritionist at Blossom Bariatrics, about her supplement regimen.  “I had gastric bypass six months ago and my doctor told me that my B vitamins are low after he ran a blood test. I take a multi[vitamin]. Isn’t this enough?”

Phelan replied, “Well Tamara, that is a really great question and unfortunately, sometimes a multi is not enough for many bariatric patients.”  B12 vitamin deficiency is a serious condition and  along with taking a “practitioner grade, bariatric formula in your multivitamin, all patients should be taking additional B vitamins, preferably a B complex, with the active form of B12 called methylcobalamin.”

Patrick J. Skerrett, Executive Editor of Harvard Health, in his January 2013 article, “Vitamin B12 deficiency can be sneaky, harmful,” explains that bariatric surgery “interferes with the body’s ability to extract vitamin B12 from food.”  He cautions that “Vitamin B12 deficiency can be slow to develop, causing symptoms to appear gradually and intensify over time. It can also come on relatively quickly. Given the array of symptoms it can cause, the condition can be overlooked or confused with something else.”

Symptoms of B12 deficiency may include:
- strange sensations, numbness, or tingling in the hands, legs, or feet

- difficulty walking (staggering, balance problems)
- anemia
- a swollen, inflamed tongue
- ellowed skin (jaundice)
- difficulty thinking and reasoning (cognitive difficulties), or memory loss
- paranoia or hallucinations
- weakness
- fatigue

While understanding the importance of proper nutrition and the role of supplements is essential to post-bariatric surgery success, Phelan says open communication between doctor and patient is a priority.  “Trust yourself and talk to your doctor if you feel ‘off’ or ‘just not right.’  It is easier to manage your overall health early, rather than deal with problems later.”

About Blossom Bariatrics:
Blossom Bariatrics is a weight loss surgery center located in Las Vegas, Nevada. Award winning surgeon, Dr. Thomas Umbach, is dedicated to helping individuals improve their health, and live more fulfilling lives by losing their excess weight.  His gastric bypass practice specializes in both advanced and traditional laparoscopic (minimally invasive) procedures.

Contact Info:
Name: Dr. Tom Umbach
Email: Send Email
Organization: Blossom Bariatrics
Address: 3235 East Warm Springs Rd. Suite 100 Building 24 Las Vegas, NV 89120
Phone: 702-904-8011

Release ID: 67281