July 11, 2012

How to Know When You Are Nutrient Deficient

by Katie Jay, MSW, Certified Wellness Coach,
Director, National Association for Weight Loss Surgery
http://www.nawls.com

This is a repost of a recent article from Katie Jay's newsletter.  Please read and educate yourself.  I have to admit that I, too, have some type of deficiency. We owe it to ourselves to get our labs done and get educated on our bodies and our personal situations.  Keep reading and leave me some feedback!

"As I've often said, traveling around the country meeting weightloss surgery (WLS) patients has been one of the most gratifying aspects of my job.

I enjoy a lot of email correspondence, but there is nothing like looking into the eyes of another survivor -- another person who has taken the plunge into the radically new way of life offered to us with WLS.

Most of the time, it is a purely silly exchange of stories about slips falling off in public and shopping misfires, like trying on clothes that look too small only to find they hang like drapes on a now-small frame.

Every time I meet with a group of WLS patients, however, I encounter at least one person who looks almost desperate. I hear the signs of deficiencies, like:

'I feel obsessed with chewing. I can't stop eating ice.'

'When does the energy come back?  I am two years out and I still feel horrible.'


'I feel so foggy and my memory is shot. My boss is getting fed up with me.'

The anxious faces are heartbreaking, because I know that one of the most likely reasons for these problems is nutritional deficiency.

Correct Knowledge Is Power

While most surgeons educate their patients about the nutritional aspect of their surgery, the information can be misunderstood, lacking, or outdated. And for laypeople there is often no way for them to assess the quality of the information they are receiving.

The potential for misunderstanding or misinformation is why it is critical for all WLS patients to take responsibility for and completely understand their nutritional, vitamin, and supplement needs.

It's All About the Lab Work
Ideally, a WLS patient will get every possible, relevant type of lab work done before surgery. Doing this allows you to have a baseline, partly so that you can correct any deficiencies before you even have surgery.

After WLS, the Lab Work Becomes Essential
Don't assume that just because your lab numbers are in the normal range you are okay. Be aware that sometimes shortages will not show up immediately. Even when a lab value is in the normal range, it can be trending downward. If you just interpret that the lab test is "normal," you may not even realize you're headed for trouble.

You Have to Compare Results

Many times I have heard people say to me, "I don't need all that stuff [meaning supplements]. I feel good and my labs are fine."  Your iron can drop 30 points and still be in the normal range. Your B12 can drop 100s of points and still be in the normal range. The trend in your lab work is where you need to focus. Many people use an excel spreadsheet to track their lab work. It's simple to do, and will allow you to identify a negative trend before you become dangerously depleted and get permanent damage.

Some Common Deficiencies
Protein, iron, calcium, zinc, B1 (Thiamin), B12 and the vitamins A, D, and E, commonly can show a downward trend.  People are starting to report other deficiencies as well, so staying current on research about weight loss surgery is critical.  It's best to acknowledge you are at risk for deficiencies and look for them before they become critical.

Reposted from Katie Jay of NAWLS