Why is Calcium important after Bariatric Surgery? Your absorption of Calcium is compromised after a Gastric Bypass or Sleeve Gastrectomy There is no exact percentage of how much one’s uptake is compromised, but there are guidelines as to the amount of extra Calcium we should take to maintain adequate stores. This number has increased over the last couple years, with the current consensus recommending 1500 mg of Calcium per day. Ideally, this Calcium should be in the form of Calcium Citrate (nor Carbonate) to improve absorption. Adequate Calcium intake is important to maintain Bone Mineral Density. If your Bone Mineral Density decreases, this puts you at risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures. It is very difficult to increase your Bone Mineral Density, so once you lose it, you can never fully recover.
We commonly check your Calcium blood levels during your routine follow up visits. This test is quick and easy, but it really falls short in accurately assessing your overall Calcium level stores and related Bone Mineral Density. The only test that can do this well is Bone Densitometry. Bone Densitometry is usually reserved for senior patients as a screening tool. It is usually performed at a Radiology Office. Most patients’ insurance will not cover routine Bone Densitometry screening for Bariatric Surgery Patients.
Many patients are fairly relaxed when sticking to the Calcium supplement recommendations. This is partly due to the hassle of taking this extra supplement, the extra cost associated with these supplements, and the lack of “feeling any different” if they do not take the recommended amount. In fact, even if a Bariatric Patient took no extra Calcium in their diet, they would probably notice no changes in their health for decades. The problem arises when their Primary Doctor finally screens them for osteoporosis with the resultant unhealthy finding.
So, the moral of the story is: even though you will feel no immediate direct effect, you should be taking 1500 mg of Calcium Citrate per day to prevent early osteoporosis.
For more information about calcium levels and supplements please call our office 808.521.1300.