Iron and Bariatric Surgery: Deficiency Symptoms, Iron Needs

Iron and Bariatric Surgery: Deficiency Symptoms, Iron Needs

Posted by Pharmics on 13th Jan 2021

There are several groups or situations where certain supplements are a much more common need than they would be generally, and a great example is iron supplements for those who have recently undergone bariatric surgery. A broad term describing various forms of weight-loss surgery, bariatric surgery is common today – but often leads to iron deficiency that requires supplementation to fill.

At Pharmics Inc., we’re happy to offer a variety of both iron supplements and bariatric vitamins for many individuals, including those who have recently gone through bariatric surgery and are struggling with iron deficiency. How can those in this position tell if they’re not getting enough iron, and what are the recommendations for how to proceed if this is the case? Here are some important areas to be aware of.

Iron Deficiency Symptoms

There are numerous symptoms that may indicate iron deficiency concerns. These include:

  • Low energy levels
  • Heart palpitations or increased heart rate, especially during physical activity
  • Rapid breathing on exertion
  • Limited ability to perform athletic activity or physical work
  • Inability to maintain a normal body temperature
  • Brittle or spoon-shaped nails
  • Certain forms of hair loss
  • A sore tongue
  • Lower immune status, such as getting colds more often
  • Dry or scaly skin
  • Headaches, decreased mental acuity or even amnesia

Why Bariatric Patients Need More Iron

For most people, iron needs are relatively standard. Males of all ages, plus all post-menopausal females, require 8 milligrams of iron per day. Menstruating females require 18 milligrams per day. On the other hand, recent bariatric patients will require varying amounts of iron , from around this same 18 milligram per day range all the way up to 100 milligrams or more.

Why do such patients need more iron than normal people? There are a few reasons:

  • Up to 45% of such patients already have low iron levels prior to surgery.
  • Stomach acid is diminished following surgery, and iron needs acid to absorb properly.
  • Post-operation, there are often issues with incomplete digestion of protein, and some patients have an aversion to iron-rich foods.
  • Decreased absorption of iron in gastric bypass and biliopancreatic diversion.
  • Risk of iron deficiency only increases with time, meaning it’s vital to have regular blood work done.

Surgeon Recommendations

One very important note: While a large portion of bariatric surgery patients – up to 50%, in fact – will experience iron deficiency within months or years of the surgery, not all will. It’s vital to follow the recommendations of your surgeon, who will know your medical history, blood work and other important factors that dictate whether you should take a supplement, and often which supplement you should take. Be sure to heed their advice and plan for future blood work tests so they have the latest information.

For more on why bariatric surgery patients often require iron supplements, or to learn about any of our various vitamins and supplements, speak to the staff at Pharmics Inc. today.

Important Note: Always talk to your healthcare provider before taking an iron supplement.