Sunday, August 26, 2007

Vitamin D supplements and Obesity

Did you know that there is a high incidence of vitamin D deficiency with obesity? The reason is probably that vitamin D is fat-soluble, so it deposits in the fat stores, and becomes less available to the body. There is a possibility that lack of adequate sun exposure, which is common in Seattle area and in the Northern regions, could contribute to a baseline vitamin D deficiency. This means that a typical patient most likely has a deficit of vitamin D before bariatric (weight loss) surgery. A study from the University of Maine, that was recently published in the journal "Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases" (1) , showed the results of evaluating how adequate the correction of vitamin D deficiency is, one year after gastric bypass surgery. Before surgery, 34% of patients had suboptimal levels, and 54% had deficient levels, of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in their blood. By one year after Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, the vitamin D deficiency improved remarkably with the intake of vitamin D supplements. Remember, nutritional supplements after weight loss surgery are not optional, they are a must. The researcher recommended higher doses of vitamin D than the average.

Vitamin D is essential for bone health. Calcium absorption requires vitamin D. Lack of calcium leads to osteopenia and osteoporosis. So, when you take your supplements, particularly after bariatric surgery, make sure that they include calcium and vitamin D. Actually, it may be better to start before having the surgery. Notice, though, that there are medical conditions in which taking extra calcium may be contraindicated. Therefore, make sure that your physician is OK with it. Also, after gastric bypass, the general recommendation is to take the calcium supplements in the form of calcium citrate, not carbonate. There is some controversy in that issue, but taking calcium citrate will keep you on the safer side, with regards to calcium absorption.

So, make sure that you take your nutritional supplements regularly, and stay healthy.


(1) Nelson ML, Bolduc LM, Toder ME, Clough DM, Sullivan SS. Correction of preoperative vitamin D deficiency after Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery. Surg Obes Relat Dis. 2007 Jul-Aug;3(4):434-7. [PMID: 17400028]