There has been extensive discussion on the importance of Vitamin D published over the last few years in regards to bone health, immune health and Calcium physiology. The importance of vitmain D and bone structure has been discussed extensively. It is also important in the absorption of Calcium. It further plays role in immune modulation.
What is new is the possible correlation of Vitamin D and COVID 19. Recently it is been shown that low vitamin D may increase the risk of a poor outcome with Covid-19 exposure and infection.
There are different standard recommendation for the Vitamin D levels.
In our practice we aim to maintain a Vitamin D level of 0ver 60 in post weight loss surgical patients.
There are a number of theories as to how the Vitamin D deficiency may play a role in this. An emerging observation is that low Vitamin D may cause abnormal and excessive blood clot formation. Mohammad et. al. in 2019 published a study on the association of low vitamin D and “…Pathogenesis of Thrombosis”
This pathologic blood clot formation in COVID-19 patients may explain the extensive lung injury and multi system organ failure in some patient. It is also one of the reason that some COVID-19 patients have loss limbs or appendages.
Please follow all supplement recommendations based on your laboratory studies and all COVID-19 recommendations. We would recommend frequent hand washing, surface cleaning, social distancing, and wearing face masks as the most basic precautions and increase precautions based on your health status.
Treatment options should be approached is a global and systemic fashion. It is critical that the nutritional status is at its best possible and optimized for important healthy bone vitamins and minerals. Low protein needs to be corrected. Special attention should be given to nutrients, minerals and vitamins. These include Protein, Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Vitamin K1/K2to name a few.
Healthy bones require ongoing and routine force in the form of exercise to remain health. Just as exercise improves muscle strength, it also improves bone health. Exercise is also critical in improving bone structure and density. Ideally, exercise should be weight bearing and resistance. Examples include: hiking, walking, jogging, climbing stairs, playing tennis, and dancing. Resistance type exercise is weight lifting and resistance bands. These exercise work by creating a pull or force on the bone either by gravity, movement or weight. Always check with your physician before beginning an exercise routine, start slowly and building up to longer periods of time. The ideal goal would be at least 30 minutes a day, every day, if you are able.
We frequently see patients immediately started on osteoporosis medications without checking or improving some of the nutritional markers noted above or without looking at exercise history. In some case, the medication recommended are contraindicated due to nutritional status.
The medications can be grouped in to those that help with new bone formation (Anabolic agents) or those that help by suppressing the bone breakdown phase (Antiresorptive agents).
National Osteoporosis Foundation has an exhaustive list (below) of medications for treatment of Osteoporosis.
The table below outlines the side effects and mechanism of the actions of the common medications used for treatment of osteoporosis which was published by the University Health News Publication on August of 2014.
With all this information, the few points to remember is that the most important factors in healthy bone structure are the nutritional status Protein, Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Vitamin K1 levels.
This is an animation of normal bone Metabolism. It shows how bone structures is taken down and rebuilt continuously. This allows for a healthy bone maintainence as we age. The key is the balance of breakdown (osteoclast) and the build up (osteoblast) activity is regulated. Osteoporosis develops when there is more breakdown that build up.
With permission of Dr. Susan Ott of University of Washington.
Additional information available on her site.
Past blogs on Bone Health.
Calcium is measured to evaluate function and adequacy of a physiologic processes. Calcium plays a critical role in several body functions such as, coagulation pathways, bone health, nerve conduction, and other functions. It is important whenever you are evaluating laboratory results that you look at the whole picture of the person, including medications, other laboratory studies and health history. One value is not a stand alone result. There are many factors that effect calcium results.
Factors that effect calcium results: (not an all inclusive list)
The two most common issues following Weight loss Surgery or Duodenal Switch may be albumin level and Vitamin D level. Please see past blogs on Vitamin D. Magnesium may also play a role in a Duodenal Switch patient.
The most common calcium result drawn is the total calcium level. Laboratory results may not explicitly label it as such, however, it measures the calcium that is bound to protein. Ionized calcium is the free calcium that is representative of the true total calcium. Ionized Calcium can be measured by ordering specific lab. Alternatively, the Ionized calcium can be calculated by the following formula: Corrected calcium mg/dL = (0.8 * (Normal Albumin – Pt’s Albumin)) + Serum Ca ) or use the calculator at the bottom of this post.
The low Albumin level accounts for the low calcium level. This may be the reason for a patient with a low albumin/protein level, also having their calcium level reported as low. However, when adjusted for the protein deficiency the corrected calcium comes into normal range. Video of Trouseau’s sign of a patient with calcium deficiency.
The first step in a patient who has low calcium reported, is to make sure their protein and albumin levels are normal, along with Vitamin D.
Calcium levels are managed by two processes major regularly hormones and influencing hormones. Controlling or major regulatory hormones include PTH, calcitonin, and vitamin D. In the kidney, vitamin D and PTH stimulate the activity of the epithelial calcium channel and the calcium-binding protein (ie, calbindin) to increase calcium absorption. Influencing hormones include thyroid hormones, growth hormone, and adrenal and gonadal steroids.
Corrected calcium = 0.8 * (4.0 – serum albumin) + serum calcium
Malnutrition is one of the most feared complication of the duodenal switch operation. It may present years after surgery. What is common is a mix of nutritional deficiencies which include fat soluble vitamins, and protein calorie malnutrition. These all point to possible excessive shortening of the common channel. In my practice we have seen patients that have had lengthening of their common channel to improve their metabolic picture. What is very obvious to us, is that we see disproportionately higher number of cases coming to us for revision from practices where the common and alimentary lengths are done as a “standard” numbers with no specific adjustments made for the patient, their anatomy and situation. I have said for years, that the length of the bowel that is measured to be become the common and the alimentary limb should be a percentage of the total length of small bowel, rather than a pre-determined measurement. Here is a visual description of how this works.
If a common channel and the alimentary limb is measured to be a percent of the total length then the chance of protein calorie malnutrition is minimized since this will take into account the bowels absorptive capacity which is being reduced. This decrease in the absorption is done as a fraction of the total length.
Raines et al. published a study in 2014, that showed how small bowel length is related more closely to a patient’s height and not weight. And yet, some surgeons totally based the length of the common channel and the alimentary limb arbitrarily based on the patient pre operative BMI and nothing else. Could this be the cause of why I see some patients coming to us for revision of their duodenal switch for malnutrition?
Vitamin K1 is a found in dark green leafy vegetables, asparagus, brussels sprouts, some grains, olive oil, prunes, soy bean oil, and canola oil. The body has limited storage capacity for Vitamin K and uses a recycle system to reuse it.
Vitamin K1 is a fat-soluble vitamin that after Duodenal Switch is not as easily absorbed due to the limiting contact of the food product with the bile until the common channel. Bile is needed to absorb fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins.
Duodenal Switch patients in need of Vitamin K1 supplements should take “Dry” or water miscible type of Vitamin K1, such as Biotech brand. The patients laboratory studies will determine if a patient requires Vitamin K1 supplement. Duodenal Switch patients should have laboratory studies drawn and evaluated at least on a yearly basis. Vitamin K works in a delicate balance with other supplements and should be monitored by a physician, in at risk people.
Vitamin K1 is most know for it’s coagulation effect and the clotting cascade. Vitamin K1 works with calcium and proteins in order to accomplish coagulation synethesis. Care should be taken with Vitamin K supplementation and anti-coagulation (blood thinners) therapy. Please see your physician regarding any supplementation of Vitamin K and blood thinner medications.
A discovery of Vitamin K dependent proteins has led to research on Vitamin K1 in bone health. Bone matrix proteins, specifically osteocalcin, undergo gamma carboxylation with calcium much the way coagulation factors do; this process also requires Vitamin K. Osteocalcin is a Gla-protein that is regulated by Vitamin D. The calcium binding ability of osteocalcin requires several Vitamin K carboxylations to exert it’s effects on bone mineralization.
In adults, the causes of Vitamin K1 deficiency include the following :
Multiple abdominal surgeries
Long-term parenteral nutrition
Parenchymal liver disease
Inflammatory bowel disease
Medications: Antibiotics (cephalosporin), cholestyramines, warfarin, salicylates, anticonvulsants, Cefamandole, cefoperazone, salicylates, hydantoins, rifampin, isoniazid, barbiturates, and certain sulfa drugs, higher Vitamin E can antagonized Vitamin K)
Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) – Severe
Chronic kidney disease/hemodialysis
Additional information: https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/vitamins/vitaminK/
As always, discuss with your physicians and/or surgeon any changes in medications and supplements. This is not meant to be an all inclusive discussion of Vitamin K.
An Example of Medications that may cause bone loss
It should be noted that this list is NOT all inclusive and gives the type of medication but does not list all the medications in that category that may affect bone health. I would also like to point out that the Proton Pump Inhibitor labels should probably be changed to “Acid Reducers” as reducing acid is the issues. https://americanbonehealth.org