The Importance of Iron after Weight Loss Surgery

The gastric bypass surgery typically results in only a minor amount of malabsorption of nutrients. Proteins, for instance, are absorbed normally after a gastric bypass. However, patients who are not followed well, or who are not educated about the importance of some vitamins and minerals, can develop mineral deficiencies. Iron is an especially important mineral supplement to follow after a gastric bypass. Iron is vital to the healthy exchange of oxygen from your lungs to your body. Iron atoms are incorporated in hemoglobin, the major oxygen carrying protein in the body, and account for the red color of blood. Iron is present in many foods and absorbed by the body. Without iron, the body cannot make healthy red blood cells and a condition called iron deficiency anemia results. This anemia, when severe, can cause fatigue.

After some weight loss operations, iron pills are helpful to prevent iron deficiency anemia. Anemia, which only occurs in a minority of patients, may take years to develop. Therefore, monitoring of iron and hemoglobin levels is important. One helpful key is that if you take iron with acidic foods, or vitamin C, the iron absorption improves. Although some evidence suggests that different formulations of iron (Iron sulfate, Feosol, So-Fe, Iron fumarate) result in different absorption, the real clinical differences are not known. Some people experience minor side effects to iron pills such as constipation. So if you are taking iron supplements, find the cheapest, tastiest formulation that doesn’t cause GI upset. Take these supplements as directed and follow-up regularly with your physician.

Foods that are very high in iron include clams, tofu, steak, shrimp, black beans, chickpeas, turkey, and chicken. Other foods such as eggs, spinach, potatoes are also high in iron.

Back to Blogs