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Nutrition, Fitness & Diet

B12 Deficiency and Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery

Hello. This is Michelle Phelan, nutritionist at Blossom Bariatrics, where expertise meets true compassion. We’re always here for you before, during, and after your weight loss surgery procedure–because it’s the after that’s the most important part.

Today, we’re going to talk about B12 deficiency, and B12 deficiency is actually more prevalent than we originally thought. Folks over the age of 60, young women on birth control, folks that have had weight loss surgery in the past are all more at risk for B12 deficiency.

The older population loses the ability to produce enough gastric acids and enzymes in their stomach to break down foods properly. One of the factors in this gastric acid is a product called intrinsic factor, which is actually a protein. And the role of intrinsic factor is that it cleaves on to the B12, whether it’s from food or from the supplement, and helps that B12 travel through your digestive system to the end of your small intestine, where it’s actually absorbed and metabolized. Without intrinsic factor, you won’t be able to absorb the B12 your body needs.

Another population that’s at risk from B12 malabsorption would be folks that have had bariatric surgery procedures. Again, whether you’ve had gastric bypass, the band, or the sleeve, you’ve limited your ability to have enough gastric acid and enzymes in your new stomach–or your new pouch–to properly have enough intrinsic factor.

One way to side-step this is to take the more active version of B12, which is Methylcobalamin. Methylcobalamin has the active component in it that, if you have less intrinsic factor or none at all, you’re still guaranteed to absorb, hopefully, all or some of it in your small intestine.

Some symptoms of B12 deficiency are low energy, fatigue, anemia, mental fatigue, mood changes, and sleep difficulties.

The best ways to take your B12 is to make sure that your B12 supplement is indeed Methylcobalamin. That’s the more active version that we spoke about earlier. You’re going to primarily look for sublingual, a spray, or a shot.

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