Vitamin B12 deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies after weight loss surgery. Those most at risk for Vitamin B12 deficiency are the patients that have had weight loss surgery; especially following Gastric Bypass Surgery. But, you can also see this nutrient deficiency after the Sleeve Gastrectomy. After Gastric Bypass Surgery, you may no longer be able to absorb and digest sufficient amounts of Vitamin B12 to maintain a healthy body, so you should take a Vitamin B12 supplement lifelong.
Why is it so important to supplement with Vitamin B12 after weight loss surgery? Vitamin B12 plays an important role in the normal growth and function of nerves and the spinal cord. Vitamin B12 deficiency after weight loss surgery can lead to both neurological damage and psychological disturbances.
What are some signs of Vitamin B12 deficiency after Weight Loss Surgery?
- Abnormal gait (unsteady on your feet)
- Memory loss
- Tingling or loss of sensation or weakness in your hands or feet
- Changes in mood or hallucinations
Be Careful!!!! Whether you have had weight loss surgery or not, Vitamin B12 deficiency can often go undiagnosed due to the similarity of symptoms of other diseases. For example, someone may have weakness or numbness if they have diabetes with nerve damage (neuropathy) or a herniated disk. If you are having any of these symptoms, get your B12 level checked!!!! It is always better to be safe than sorry. The vitamin B12 reference range can be low at your lab; your B12 value may appear to be with in the normal range, but as bariatric patient, we want your Vitamin B12 levels to be greater than 400-500! For the first year following weight loss surgery, you should have your physician check your vitamin levels every three months. After the first year , you should get your nutrient values tested yearly.
If your Vitamin B12 level is low after weight loss surgery, here is what to do:
1. Sublingual Vitamin B12 lozenges or drops that dissolve under your tongue (daily requirements are 250-350mcg per day or 500 mcg every other day).
2. A nasal spray which requires a prescription from your physician.
3. An injection can be obtained from your primary care physician-usually only required monthly.
Didn’t have weight loss surgery? How can you get the most Vitamin B12 from your diet?
- Red meat/Beef
- Poultry like Chicken or Turkey
- Dairy Products like Yogurt and Cheese
- Liver and organ Meats