Iron Deficiency…Tell Me More…

Steph Wagner

October 2, 2014

Iron Deficiency, Tell Me More // Bariatric Dietitian // Food Coach me

Last week I posted a blog about Vitamin Deficiencies being no joke.

And it’s true. They can get nasty. Preventing a deficiency is MUCH easier than treating one.

Talking about vitamins and vitamin deficiencies often don’t prove to be popular. Not as many people will want to read this blog compared to the Bariatric Friendly Pumpkin Spice Latte post from last week or the Top 5 Apps for Gastric Sleeve Patients. Those are much more exciting topics!

But struggling with too little vitamins or minerals in your body is something we need to talk about. It may not be as glamorous, but if it encourages you to stay consistent with supplementing your body properly…it’s worth it to me :)

So today I want to review IRON and what it does in your body. And why it might have more to do with hair loss than protein……

Shout out to the Bariatric Advantage Website for sourcing me with great material for this post. Much more interesting than my Medical Nutrition Textbook :) 

1. What does Iron do????

It builds your blood cells. It brings oxygen to the organs in your body. It keeps your enzyme functioning (which breaks down food). It allows your immune system to fight off infection. It allows the body to grow, develop and thrive.

2.  What happens if I’m low?? 

If your iron count is low in your blood work, you may notice you feel tired and super weak.  If you feel those things it could be something else, like dehydration, but it could be your iron. This is why consistent lab work is so important and why you really want to keep follow up appointments with your doctor.

If you’re low you might look pale or grayish. If iron builds your blood cells and you’re low in it, you won’t have a nice healthy pink look to your skin. You might be short of breath, feel dizzy or lightheaded when you stand up. Your nails might be brittle and you may have hair loss. Again, hair loss doesn’t mean it is absolutely iron, but it could be.

If iron deficiency continues untreated for a long-time you can have serious health problems including heart problems and trouble fighting infections. If you need to have a surgery or you have an injury…healing is very difficult with low levels of iron.

3. What are other symptoms? (source: Bariatric Advantage)

Swollen tongue

Loss of appetite


Difficulty thinking/slow thinking

Leg cramps

Cravings for non-food items like ice or paper

4. Where can I get Iron?

While there are great food sources of iron, if you are low in iron you need to be supplementing. If you are a bariatric surgery patient, you need to be supplementing with a Bariatric Specific Iron. Discuss your options with you Bariatric Dietitian. If you don’t have one, you can contact me at to find one in your area.

5. Final Thoughts :) 

Jump on this ASAP. If you aren’t on iron, see if your multivitamin contains iron. If you’re taking an over-the-counter multivitamin I would strongly urge you to look into Bariatric Vitamins that are made for best absorption with your surgery. Most patients will require 45 to 60 mg of chewable Iron daily (in the form of ferrous fumarate) but in some cases your doctor or dietitian will recommend more. If you haven’t had lab work since surgery and you are more than 6 months postop, get in with your doctor for labs! If you haven’t stayed in contact with your surgeon, find one in your area to establish postop care with. Many bariatric surgeons take on patients who had surgery elsewhere. If not, stay in close contact with your primary care and ask him to draw bariatric labs that will include iron, vitamin D and others.

Set timers and alarms on your phone to remember your iron! If you are an avid tea or coffee drinker be sure to take your iron supplement at a different time of day than when you are drinking tea or coffee. If you have low iron and are a big tea drinker, you should consider greatly reducing or eliminating tea as it will bind up your iron and prevent you from getting your iron status back up.

For more questions email me at or your own bariatric dietitian!

3 thoughts on “Iron Deficiency…Tell Me More…”

  1. This was actually interesting & informative. Thanks for sharing. I do have a question about the latte recipe. Can you use it for more than that day. Can you put it in the fridge & use it for a week or so? Are bariatric patients suppose to be drinking empty nutrient drinks? I go to Dr Walton in Edmond at Weight Wise & they discourage empty calorie drinks & actually dont want us drinking liquid protein drinks either. Wats ur thoughts on this? Is the latte ok to just use as a creamer ya think & how long will itcstay ok in the fridge. Any reply would be gret

  2. Great question! I agree wholeheartedly with your programs guidelines and also discourage liquid protein drinks for postop patients. This recipe is intended to be a “lesser of the evil” meaning if it keeps us aways from Starbucks® Pumpkin Spice Lattes…it’s much better! It is a bit of work to put together so most of us won’t put time into making this often. I cannot honestly say how it would do reheating it, but would love to hear if you try to do so. The only calorie containing ingredients in the recipe are the pumpkin and the unsweetened almond milk. With two servings this makes each serving about 45 calories excluding what you may put on the top for light whipped topping. I believe using it as a creamer would work fine as long assuming it saves well.

  3. There is a Crystal Light liquid water add-in called tropical coconut. It tastes like a pina colada. I tried adding a splash of coconut rum just to “think” I was drinking a mixed drink. I think perhaps 1/3 of a jigger of rum. Didn’t affect me at all. But, I had the feeling that I was drinking a mixed drink with my friends.


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