Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Most Common Nutrient Deficiency in Bariatric Patients

If you’ve had bariatric surgery, congratulations on the new you! Now its time to learn to take care of the different nutrition needs brought on by your surgery. Though surgery will help you take and keep weight off, it also increases your risk of developing several nutrient deficiencies. And, because the best defense is a good offense, it is wise to talk to your physician and dietitian about the nutrient deficiencies common in bariatric patients.

The most common nutrient deficiency you are likely to experience is iron deficiency anemia. And, a related issue to this deficiency is pica – a condition where a person craves and eats non-food substances such as laundry starch, ice, dirt, clay, cigarette ashes and more. Patients who have undergone operations such as Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) and biliopancreatic diversion (BD), with or without duodenal switch are at an increased risk of developing pica.

Additional reasons bariatric surgery increases your risk of developing iron deficiency anemia and pica include:

• Immediately post surgery your intake of iron rich foods may be minimal
• Surgery means decreased hydrocholoric acid production in the stomach and this acid is essential for the absorption of some micronutrients
• Food and supplements now bypass the typical iron absorption sites in the small intestine
• There are fewer receptors to transport iron and change iron to the form that is absorbed best by the body

All of these issues make it essential that you talk to your physician about getting checked for iron deficiency anemia and how best to supplement if you are low in iron.

Reference: Bariatric Times 2010;7(11)22–23

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