Both macro- and micronutrients are necessary for general health and wellbeing and many are needed in higher quantities after surgery to prevent devastating nutrient deficiencies.

Be Medical BariatricWeighloss surgery

After metabolic and bariatric surgery (MBS), your body needs more nutrients than it did before surgery, due to a change in anatomy, decreased food intake, and potential malabsorption of nutrients. Nutrients are divided into two major classes: macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients are needed in large amounts and are commonly referred to as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, are required in small amounts but are needed for our bodies to function properly.

Both macro- and micronutrients are necessary for general health and wellbeing and many are needed in higher quantities after surgery to prevent devastating nutrient deficiencies. Without proper food and supplement intake, you may experience preventable nutrient deficiencies, particularly in four core areas that can affect your health.

Bone health

Up to 90% of patients are deficient in vitamin D prior to MBS. After surgery, your body may also face challenges absorbing calcium and vitamins D and K, as well as other nutrients (such as magnesium) involved in the development and maintenance of bone health. Certain procedures can also increase how quickly your body turns over bone, which decreases the total amount of bone in your body. Long-term supplementation with an adequate amount of calcium and vitamins D and K can help prevent bone loss.

Neurological health

Neurological conditions such as encephalopathy, myelopathy, and polyneuropathy (brain, muscle, and nerve conditions) can develop after MBS due to vitamin deficiencies. These conditions have been found to occur not only long-term, but also within weeks4 after surgery and cause symptoms such as burning, weakness, and tingling in the hands and feet.

Deficiencies of vitamins B1, B12, and E, folate, and the mineral copper, can result in post-MBS neurological conditions that may be prevented by supplementing with these micronutrients,5 and following up annually with your healthcare practitioner.

Blood health (anemias)

Anemias (conditions that affect the production of healthy red blood cells) are prevalent even prior to MBS. After many MBS procedures, there is a decrease in the production of stomach acid, which is needed to absorb nutrients. Additionally, due to changes in your gastrointestinal tract after surgery, the absorption of many nutrients such as iron, vitamin B12, and folate is reduced, making it difficult to obtain enough of them from food alone. A deficiency in vitamin A and copper, which are necessary for red blood cell formation, can prevent a correction of iron deficiency anemia.

Muscle health

If you do not consume enough protein after surgery you may lose too much fat-free mass and not enough body fat; a condition that results in muscle wasting known as sarcopenic obesity.

To help maintain the muscle mass you have, it is important to consume adequate protein. The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) guidelines recommend a high-protein diet lifelong after surgery.

You’ve already taken the biggest step toward a healthier life. With bariatric-specific supplements and regular, lifelong follow-up care with your healthcare practitioner, you maximize your potential to achieve optimal wellness.

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