WHAT TO EXPECT: The stomach produces a substance needed to absorb B12. Without a stomach you will need supplemental B12 for the rest of your life. The effects of B12 deficiency are very serious, so this supplementation is very important.
WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT: As post-gastrectomy challenges go, this one is nothing! However you chose to take in your B12 supplementation, just be sure you do it!.
TIPS AND TRICKS:
Monitor: Your doctor will probably order periodic lab tests to monitor your B12 levels. If not, you might want to ask your doctor to do so.
B12 Injections: Conventional wisdom indicates that without a stomach you will need monthly B12 shots for the rest of your life. Your doctor will probably arrange for you to start receiving these at some point after your surgery. If not, bring this important issue up with your doctor.
Sublingual B12: We learned from an article by The University of Virginia Health System Digestive Health Center of Excellence that sublingual (under-the-tongue) B12 taken daily can be as effective as a monthly shot.
Gary took this article to his primary care physician. She was willing to give this approach a try with frequent monitoring. Gary now takes 2000 mcg of methyl B12 every morning. He has maintained normal levels of B12 on this level of supplementation for several months now.
It is important to remember to dissolve this supplement under your tongue. That way, the B12 is absorbed directly into the blood stream. Chewing and swallowing won’t work.
If it is hard for you to remember to take pills, you may prefer to just have B12 shots. But if you are interested in using sublingual supplements instead, talk to your doctor. If your doctor is not familiar with this approach, have them Google it or contact us for the article.
Do not change to sublingual B12 on your own. The effects of a B12 deficiency are very serious. It is extremely important to have your B12 levels checked so that you and your doctor can decide on the right dose of sublingual B12 for you.