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Iron Supplementation for bariatric surgery

The term bariatric surgery covers many different operations that encourage weight loss and which are typically performed on people who are obese.

Weight loss is achieved by modifying your stomach and/or intestines to restrict the type and amount of food that you can eat and, sometimes, the types of nutrients that can be absorbed from your food. 1-3

Fifty per cent of people who have had bariatric surgery are iron deficient within one year of the surgery, 2 and 20-62 % of patients are iron deficient 4 to 12 years after surgery.2 It is possible to develop iron deficiency (ID) following bariatric surgery for the following reasons: 3

  • Eating fewer iron-rich foods, such as red meat, as they may now be difficult to tolerate
  • Reduced absorption of iron from food due to less stomach acid (needed to break down food and release iron) produced following surgery
  • Reduced absorption of iron from diet as food no longer passes through the part of the intestines where iron is absorbed
  • Blood loss at the site of surgery

Following bariatric surgery it is important to treat any ID that develops. If you have had surgery it is likely that you will have regular follow-up appointments to monitor your weight loss and any side effects. If you feel you are suffering from symptoms of ID, talk to your doctor at your next appointment.

References:

  1. Buchwald H, Oien DM. Metabolic/bariatric surgery worldwide 2011. Obes Surg 2013;23(4):427-436.
  2. Jáuregui-Lobera I. Iron deficiency and bariatric surgery. Nutrients 2013;5(5):1595-1608.
  3. Love AL, Billet HH. Obesity, bariatric surgery, and iron deficiency: true, true, true and related. Am J Hematol 2008;83(5):403-409.
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