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Nutritional Deficiencies After Stomach and Intestine Surgeries

Andrea Pereira

Our intestine and stomach are responsible for a series of functions, including the absorption of nutrients from our food. When they are operated on, mainly by removing part of them, we lose our ability to absorb micro and macronutrients, and deficiencies may appear.


In Brazil, the main causes of stomach and intestinal surgery are cancer of the gastrointestinal tract; in women, they account for 15% of the total, and in men, 18%, with cancer of the colon and rectum being the second incidence in both.

Another important cause of this type of surgery is obesity, affecting 41 million people in Brazil. We are currently second in the world in bariatric surgeries. Both weight control surgery and digestive system cancer surgeries cause a loss of nutrient absorption area, which is why nutritional monitoring is essential.


In these surgeries, where part of the stomach and/or intestine is removed, the main deficiencies are iron, vitamin B12, calcium, vitamin D, and proteins. Eventually, we may become deficient in vitamin B1, zinc, and copper.

To prevent this, we must request a profile of these nutrients before surgery, discovering and treating any previous deficiency. In the first year of surgery, every 3 months and, after 1 year, annually. Furthermore, it is important to perform bone densitometry annually or bi-annually to assess osteopenia and osteoporosis due to vitamin D and calcium deficiency.

Due to reduced absorption by the digestive system, we generally recommend daily vitamins and nutrients to prevent problems. Of course, a healthy diet and regular exercise are essential.

By taking these precautions and having annual exams for evaluation, nutritional deficiency problems are unlikely to occur. However, symptoms such as hair loss, brittle nails, fractures, loss of memory and balance, weakness, tingling, and loss of vision can be a warning sign of these deficiencies.

Be sure to see your doctor, take your exams, take your supplements, and have a healthy lifestyle.


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