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Nutritional Deficiencies in Gastric Bypass Patients; Incidence, Time of Occurrence and Implications for Post-operative Surveillance



Post-operative nutritional deficiencies are a common complication following bariatric surgery. The incidence and time of occurrence are not clear, and the efficacy of supplementation remains questionable. Clear guidelines for nutritional follow-up and counselling are needed.


Preoperative and post-operative deficiencies were determined in a group of 427 gastric bypass patients. The predictive value of preoperative laboratory findings for the development of post-operative deficiencies, the time of occurrence and the effect of supplementation of common deficiencies was studied.


Most common preoperative deficiencies were of folic acid (21.3 %), vitamin D3 (17.5 %) and iron (21.8 %). Post-operative, a significant increase in the number of patients with anaemia and deficiencies of ferritin and vitamin B12 was found. Most deficiencies occur between 12 and 15 months post-operatively, but vitamin D3 deficiency occurs significantly earlier at 9.7 months. A preoperative iron, folic acid or ferritin deficiency results in a significant higher risk for developing a post-operative deficiency despite supplementation, and ferritin deficiency occurs significantly earlier in these patients. Oral treatment of post-operative vitamin B12 and vitamin D3 deficiencies was successful in more than 80 % of the patients in contrast to oral treatment of anaemia which was only successful in 62.5 % of the patients.


Our study emphasizes the importance of preoperative assessment and treatment of nutritional deficiencies in morbidly obese patients undergoing gastric bypass surgery. Despite limited efficacy, post-operative oral supplementation should be encouraged as it decreases the incidence of deficiencies.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest

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Correspondence to Eva S. J. van der Beek.

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van der Beek, E.S.J., Monpellier, V.M., Eland, I. et al. Nutritional Deficiencies in Gastric Bypass Patients; Incidence, Time of Occurrence and Implications for Post-operative Surveillance. OBES SURG 25, 818–823 (2015).

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  • Bariatric surgery
  • Gastric bypass
  • Nutrition deficiency
  • Follow-up
  • Timing