The Importance of Calcium After Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery

calcium after bariatric surgery

You hear about how important it is to take bariatric supplements after surgery, but why? What's the reasoning behind it, and why are nutrients so essential?

Reference values assess nutrient intake, one of them being the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR). This is the average daily intake for a vitamin or mineral sufficient to meet 50% of nutrient requirements for healthy individuals. 

Almost 40% of the population consumes less than the estimated average requirement for daily calcium intake. (1) With this in mind, calcium after metabolic and bariatric surgery cannot solely be consumed through food sources due to dietary restriction and nutrient malabsorption.

This blog discusses the importance of calcium, symptoms of deficiency, and supplement recommendations after metabolic and bariatric surgery.*

Importance of Calcium

Calcium is a mineral that is necessary for life. Calcium-rich foods support bone health, enabling our blood to clot, our muscles to contract, and our hearts to beat.

After metabolic and bariatric surgery, supplementing vitamins, minerals, and protein is crucial in supporting bariatric nutrition.* 

Symptoms of Calcium Deficiency

Follow up with your healthcare provider and maintain lab work to support healthy nutrient levels. Any sign of deficiency should immediately be discussed with a healthcare provider. 

The following are common signs of calcium deficiency:

  • Brittle nails
  • Cramps
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Tooth decay
  • Osteoporosis and rickets

Post-Op Supplement Recommendations*

Metabolic and bariatric surgery presents a high risk of calcium deficiency. Calcium is absorbed in the small intestine, mainly in the duodenum and upper jejunum.

In malabsorptive procedures, such as gastric bypass and duodenal switch, a large portion of the small intestine is bypassed for the outcome of weight loss. The body’s ability to absorb calcium is greatly affected.

The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) guidelines recommend:*

  • Gastric Band, Sleeve Gastrectomy, and Gastric Bypass
    • 1200 mg - 1500 mg daily in divided doses*
  • Duodenal Switch
    • 1800 mg - 2400 mg daily in divided doses*

Supplements can contain calcium carbonate or calcium citrate; however, the latter is preferred in the presence of decreased stomach acid. Calcium carbonate can be taken with food to support absorption. (2)*

Calcium-Rich Foods

Purchasing food to support a healthful diet may seem challenging if you’re unsure what to buy.

As a rule of thumb, purchase the items located around the outside of a grocery store before you travel to the middle of the store. You will find more whole foods on the outside of the store, where produce, meats, seafood, and dairy products are located.

Calcium-rich foods include, but are not limited to:

  • Collard greens
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Soybeans
  • Sardines
  • Salmon
  • Low-fat dairy and fortified foods

What to Look For in a Calcium Supplement*

You want to ensure you purchase the product with the highest quality and proper dosage for your body. Someone who has undergone metabolic and bariatric surgery will need:*

  • Calcium Citrate supplement*
  • 500-600 mg per serving* 
    • The body can only absorb 500-600 mg of calcium in one sitting, so it's recommended in divided doses (2)
  • Vitamin D included*
    • Supports calcium absorption and bone health*

    bariatric calcium

    Summary

    The impact of metabolic and bariatric surgery on micronutrient absorption can affect various aspects of the body, including bone health. It makes sense why supplements are needed lifelong to support bariatric needs.*

    Bariatric Fusion Calcium Soft Chews:

    • Calcium citrate chews support bone and metabolic health, providing more nutritional value than your average calcium supplement*
    • Contain 500 mg of calcium citrate in each delicious chew
    • Formulated for metabolic and bariatric patients*
    • Resemble the texture of a starburst candy and taste great
    • Includes vitamin D to support calcium absorption and bone support*

    This supplement is unique in that it also contains the following nutrients to support metabolic health:*

    • Vitamin K: A fat-soluble vitamin that the body stores so you can reuse it multiple times. Bacteria also produce it in the intestinal tract (changes to the intestinal tract during surgery can disturb this process). Vitamin K supports essential blood clotting, healthy bone metabolism, and cellular functions in the body.* 
    • B vitamins: Thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid are included in this product. These vitamins are water-soluble, meaning excess amounts the body does not need are excreted. Each of these vitamins converts the food we eat into energy the body can use.*
    • Magnesium: A mineral that supports protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, healthy blood sugar and blood pressure, and energy levels.*

    Bariatric Fusion Calcium Citrate Soft Chews are available as Fruit Punch, Cran-Grape, Vanilla Créme, Strawberry Blast, and Caramel calcium chews

    B vitamins are included in our calcium soft chews to support metabolic health. If additional B vitamins are needed, we also offer B50 Complex, which comprises eight B vitamins.*

    Our bariatric supplements are formulated for those who have undergone ASMBS-endorsed procedures, including Sleeve Gastrectomy, Gastric Bypass, Lap Band, and Intra-Gastric Balloon.*

    You might also be interested in the related blog - Gastric Bypass Vitamin Deficiency Symptoms

    References

    1. National Institutes of Health. 2022
    2. Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases (SOARD). 2020; 16:175-247

    *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

    This blog is for information and education purposes only. This information is not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your bariatric surgeon or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions in regards to a medical condition. A qualified healthcare professional can best assist you in deciding whether a dietary supplement is suitable based on your individual needs.