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Vitamin D and Bariatric Surgery

Vitamin D and Bariatric Surgery

Vitamin D is an important nutrient that helps the body in absorbing calcium, promoting strong bone health, and helps a variety of organs work normally. It is also known as the sunshine vitamin because it can be made by the skin through exposure to sunlight.

However, many individuals struggle with getting enough vitamin D, and deficiencies can lead to a range of health issues. Understanding vitamin D, how it works in the body, and how to get enough of it is essential for maintaining overall health.

In this blog post, we will dive into the importance of vitamin D and explore ways to incorporate it into our daily routines.

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is a nutrient that is important for the overall health of the human body. It is both a nutrient that we eat and a hormone that our bodies make.

Vitamin D plays a role in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, which are key for building strong bones. Recent studies suggest that it may also play a role in reducing cancer risk and inflammation.

There are few natural food sources of Vitamin D, and most people will get enough Vitamin D through supplementation or exposure to sunlight.

What Role Does Vitamin D Play In The Body?

Vitamin D plays a critical role in maintaining healthy bones by helping with calcium absorption. This is especially important for people after bariatric surgery, as vitamin D deficiency can cause bone density loss and muscle weakness.

Vitamin D also plays an important role in your immune system and can help reduce the risk of developing autoimmune diseases. Researchers believe there may be a link between long-term vitamin D deficiency and the development of autoimmune conditions like diabetes, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis.

How is Vitamin D made in the body?

Vitamin D is made inside the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. It is also available in small amounts from certain foods like fatty fish and fish liver oils.

However, factors like living in places that do not get a lot of sunlight exposure, spending a lot of time indoors, using sunscreen, or having darker skin can limit the production of vitamin D in the body. 

How Much Vitamin D is Needed After Bariatric Surgery?

After bariatric surgery, people will need to take vitamin and mineral supplements for the rest of their lives to avoid serious health issues. Vitamin D is especially important for those who have had bariatric surgery, as it plays a vital role in calcium absorption and bone health.

The recommended daily allowance of vitamin D is 600-800 IU for most adults, but bariatric patients need higher amounts. The ASMBS guidelines recommend all patients take at least 3,000 IU of Vitamin D per day.

Adequate vitamin D levels are key for post-surgical recovery and overall health, so patients must monitor their levels closely and ensure they are taking the necessary supplements.

Sources of Vitamin D

Sources of Vitamin D can range from exposure to sunlight to foods like fatty fish, cheese, and egg yolks.

However, for individuals who have had bariatric surgery, reaching ideal vitamin D levels can be challenging due to changes in the way the body absorbs nutrients. For this reason, supplements are necessary to maintain adequate vitamin D levels.

Again, It is recommended to take 3000 IU or 75 micrograms of Vitamin D3 daily. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine your specific needs for vitamin D supplementation depending on your lab results.

Monitoring Vitamin D levels after surgery

It is important to monitor the vitamin levels in your body after bariatric surgery, especially vitamin D, as vitamin deficiencies are common.

Studies have reported that over 50% of bariatric surgical candidates are deficient in vitamin D, and in some cases, over 90%.

Monitoring vitamin D levels can help to ensure that patients are receiving adequate supplementation and that any deficiencies are addressed quickly.

Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency is a common issue that can cause a range of symptoms. These symptoms can vary depending on the severity of the deficiency, but common signs include:

Although some people with vitamin D deficiency may not have any symptoms, those who experience any of these signs should seek medical advice.

A blood test may be necessary to check for vitamin D levels and determine the best course of treatment to overcome the deficiency.

Health Benefits of Good Vitamin D Levels

Maintaining good levels of vitamin D in the body can have many health benefits beyond just strong bones.

Adequate vitamin D intake has been linked to an improved immune system, reduced inflammation, reduced risk of autoimmune diseases like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, and even reduced cancer cell growth.

Studies have also shown that vitamin D deficiency can lead to conditions like osteoporosis, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.

By making sure you are getting enough vitamin D, you can potentially reap these health benefits and reduce the risk of vitamin D deficiency.

Katie Ott, MS, RD

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