Trace Minerals and how they support Gallbladder Health

Mar 22, 2023 | Gallbladder Removal, Gallbladder Support | 0 comments

Trace Minerals and how they support Gallbladder Health

Trace Minerals and Gallbladder Health

Just as certain vitamins are important for gallbladder health, so are minerals. Specifically, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc. We’ll discuss each of these trace minerals and the role they play in overall health and the development of gallbladder disease.


While most of us think of calcium for our bone health, it is also involved in blood clotting, nerve and muscle contraction (including the heart). Calcium works in combination with Vitamin D to increase absorption of calcium in the intestines and signal the bones to release calcium when levels are too low. When levels get too high, the body will release calcium through the urine. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for calcium is 1,000 mg/day for women less than 50 years old; 1,200 mg/day for women older than 51. Men should consume 1,000 mg/day until age 71+, when needs increase to 1,200 mg/day.1  

Low calcium levels have been shown to increase saturation of bile in the gallbladder, which may increase risk of gallstones.2


Magnesium, like calcium, is involved in bone health, muscle and nerve contractions. It is also important for blood sugar regulation, healthy digestion and maintaining a stable blood pressure. The RDA for magnesium is 400-420 mg/day for men and 310-320mg/day for women. Pregnancy increases needs to 350-360 md/day. Many people are deficient in magnesium and supplementation can be helpful in meeting needs that diet can’t. Ensure the dosage of the supplement you choose is no more than 350 milligrams of magnesium. Excess magnesium can cause digestive distress and cramping.3

In the context of gallbladder disease, magnesium deficiency can lead to dyslipidemia and over secretion of insulin. This can lead to gallstone formation. One prospective study showed that high magnesium consumption may have a protective effect against gallstone disease.4


Iron is found on every blood cell in the body, and helps transfer oxygen from the lungs to the tissues. It also supports healthy muscle and connective tissue, is involved in growth, brain development, cell functioning and hormone synthesis. The RDA for iron in adult men is 8 mg/day; women is 18 mg/day (due to blood loss from menstrual cycle). Pregnancy requires 27 mg/day. Lean meat and seafood (especially oysters) provide the most iron, followed by nuts, beans, vegetables and fortified food like bread, cereal and other grains. Iron deficiency is common in those eating a plant-based diet, and plant sources of iron are not as easily absorbed as animal sources. As a result, the RDA is 1.8 times higher in vegetarians. Iron deficiency anemia results as iron deficiency progresses, and supplementation is often necessary in this situation. Taking more than 45mg/day of iron in supplemental form can cause GI distress. If you are taking calcium, be sure to take iron separately since calcium can decrease iron absorption.5

Iron deficiency anemia is associated with super saturation of bile with cholesterol, which increases risk of gallstone formation.6

Copper & Zinc

Our bodies need copper for energy metabolism, defense against free radicals, transport of iron, and wound healing. The RDA for copper is 900 micrograms/day for men and women. Pregnancy increases copper needs to 1,300 micrograms/day. Copper is found in animal sources like meat, shellfish, nuts and seeds, whole grains and even chocolate. The body will decrease absorption of copper if it has enough, and vice versa. 7

Zinc is involved in DNA creation, cell growth, metabolism, building proteins, wound healing and immunity. The RDA for zinc is 11 mg/day for men and 8 mg/day for women. High amounts of zinc are found in meat and poultry, seafood, nuts, legumes and grains. 8

Copper deficiency may be linked to liver disease, however there are some studies showing that elevated levels of copper are found in patients with liver disease. Both too little and too much copper can cause problems in the body. One study found that the ratio of copper to zinc is particularly important. A higher concentration of copper to zinc has been associated with carcinoma (cancer) of the gallbladder. Zinc supplementation may protect from the development of gallbladder cancer in people with an elevated copper to zinc ratio. More research needs to be done in this area.9,10

As always, if you are concerned you might have a mineral deficiency, talk with your doctor or healthcare provider and ask to get tested. It is always important to check rather than guess, since taking some supplements when they are not needed can cause more harm than good.





Calcium. The Nutrition Source. Published October 19, 2020. Accessed February 16, 2023.




Kharb S, Misra PK, Dalal S, Kumawat M. Role of trace elements in the formation of gall stones. Asian J Biochem. 2014;9(4):213-220. doi:10.3923/ajb.2014.213.220




Magnesium. The Nutrition Source. Published October 21, 2019. Accessed February 16, 2023.




Tsai CJ, Leitzmann MF, Willett WC, Giovannucci EL. Long-term effect of magnesium consumption on the risk of symptomatic gallstone disease among men. Am J Gastroenterol. 2008;103(2):375-382. doi:10.1111/j.1572-0241.2007.01696.x




Iron. Accessed February 16, 2023.




Prasad PC, Gupta S, Kaushik N. To study serum iron levels in patients of gall bladder stone disease and to compare with healthy individuals. Indian J Surg. 2015;77(1):19-22. doi:10.1007/s12262-012-0739-6




Copper. The Nutrition Source. Published July 25, 2022. Accessed February 16, 2023.




Zinc. The Nutrition Source. Published November 1, 2019. Accessed February 16, 2023.




Gupta SK, Singh SP, Shukla VK. Copper, zinc, and Cu/Zn ratio in carcinoma of the gallbladder. J Surg Oncol. 2005;91(3):204-208. doi:10.1002/jso.20306




Yu L, Liou IW, Biggins SW, et al. Copper deficiency in liver diseases: A case series and pathophysiological considerations: Hepatology communications. Hepatol Commun. 2019;3(8):1159-1165. doi:10.1002/hep4.1393




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