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Vitamin B12 is a powerhouse. It helps make DNA, nerve and blood cells, and is crucial for a healthy brain and immune system.
A vitamin B12 deficiency is the most common deficiency among people who have undergone bariatric surgery. While about 5% of patients have this deficiency prior to surgery, about 13% have it once surgery is complete. The B12 deficiency tends to occur due to the inadequate digestion of vitamin B12.
B12 plays a vital role in nervous system functioning and the growth and replication of cells. Potential complications from having a deficiency in vitamin B12 include:
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Pale skin
- Loss of appetite
- Vision loss
- Memory loss
Bariatric patients are more likely to develop a vitamin B12 deficiency than other people because their digestive tracts have been changed. This causes an interference with the natural absorption of B12. In adults who have not undergone bariatric surgery, the body uses stomach acid to break down vitamin B12, which lets it get absorbed into the body.