Nutritional supplements may not be enough to avoid iron deficiency and anemia after gastric bypass surgery. According to a new study it appears that low iron levels in some gastric bypass patients may not be due to a reduced iron intake, but to the body’s inability to absorb iron after gastro-intestinal alteration.
The study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Chile in Santiago, followed 67 Chilean women who had undergone gastric bypass surgery. All of the women were given vitamin and mineral supplements after surgery; some of the women were given an additional iron supplement.
Even with the recommended supplementation, however, more than one third of the women developed anemia within 18 months of having gastric bypass surgery.
According to researchers, who published their findings in the September 2009 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the data suggested that the major cause of the deficiency was impaired iron absorption, rather than insufficient iron intake.
Although researchers stated that standard iron supplementation may not be enough to avoid low iron counts in many gastric bypass patients, there are other options. To help prevent or treat an iron deficiency, it may be necessary for some patients to take one of the newer iron formulations which are more readily absorbed by the body or get iron infusions rather than pills.
While gastric bypass surgery is successful in promoting weight loss and resolving health issues, it does carry the risk of nutritional deficiencies. Gastric bypass patients will need to take daily supplements for life, including a multi-vitamin, calcium, vitamin B12, and iron for menstruating women. They will also need to have their health monitored on a regular basis.
Nutritional deficiencies can occur at any time over the years. Follow-up tests will check for many things including anemia, protein malnutrition, bone disease, liver function, thyroid function, as well as the levels of cholesterol, vitamin, minerals, micronutrients, and iron in the blood.
The National Anemia Action Council has recently published an article on Avoiding Anemia and Nutritional Deficiencies Following Bariatric Surgery which gastric bypass patients may find helpful.