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Zinc and Weight Loss – The Post-Surgical Supplement Doctors Often Forget

Before gastric lap band surgery, Roland weighed an astonishing 484 pounds (242 kilos). Just 5 feet 8 inches (175 cm) tall, Roland had to wear XXXXXXL pants and shirts and could not tie his shoes. Breaking furniture was a constant problem.

Within just three months after lap band surgery, however, Roland lost 121 pounds (55 kilos). He could take a walk, he could see his feet, and his diabetes seemed to go away completely, but other problems arose.

Within six months, with his weight down nearly 200 pounds (91 kilos), Roland’s hair started falling out in clumps. He broke out with acne. He started having diarrhea and having trouble staying hydrated. He made an urgent appointment to see a nutritionally oriented physician, and blood tests revealed the problem: Severe deficiency of both copper and zinc. (Read more about zinc deficiency.)

Copper and zinc levels often decline dramatically after weight loss surgery. Most North Americans get their copper and zinc from meat or fish, and weight loss surgery simply does not leave enough room in the stomach for eating meat.

Stomach acid levels decline so that foods that are high in minerals are not as easily digested, and eating even a little fiber can make it very difficult for the small intestine to absorb the minerals that are released by digestion in the stomach. Supplementation with both copper and zinc is essential, but there also is not enough room in the stomach for taking a multivitamin pill.

Post-surgical support for gastric bypass and lap band patients requires liquid vitamins and minerals. There are some inherent difficulties with liquid nutritional supplements. They have to be kept in a cool, dark place such as the refrigerator. They have to be shaken before each use, and the bottle has to be kept tightly closed to keep the contents from oxidizing.

It’s also important to get all the vitamins and minerals you need with their cofactors. Don’t take vitamin C without vitamin EDon’t take calcium without vitamin DDon’t take zinc without copper.

If you have had weight loss surgery, getting all the nutrients you need can take serious planning. However, taking the time to get all the needed nutrition can help you avoid the nutritional deficiencies that can cause serious setbacks on your way to a new life.