Vitamin D Deficiency and Gallstones During Pregnancy
If you’re a soon-to-be mom, there are tons of information to pay attention to throughout your pregnancy. From healthy eating, prenatal exercises, birthing classes, and more, it certainly can be an overwhelming time.
As a new mom myself, I’m here for you. I’ve been through the excitement of preparing to bring a newborn into the world. But it’s essential you’re aware of certain tips to ensure you can avoid gallbladder issues during pregnancy. And stay your healthiest self throughout your pregnancy.
You likely already know the importance of prenatal vitamins and supplements. But, you may not be aware of the potential complications that come with vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D deficiency is a common problem among the general population, but even more so in pregnant women.1,2 And evidence-based research indicates that vitamin D deficiency may contribute to gallbladder stasis and a reduced gallbladder ejection fraction. With this combination, you have an increased risk of gallstone development.3
This partially explains why pregnant women develop gallstones, in addition to hormonal changes that occur. One study conducted on pregnant women concluded that the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and gallbladder disease is related to4
- Reduced sun exposure
- Inadequate intake of vitamin D in the diet
- Urban living
We know that vitamin D comes from the sunshine. But sunshine alone won’t ensure your vitamin D level is in the normal range. So many people are deficient in this necessary vitamin. It’s crucial to be aware of your vitamin D level. And if it’s out of optimal range, vitamin D supplementation should be considered.
As a functional nutritionist specializing in gallbladder health, I want to focus not only on the importance of vitamin D as it relates to your overall health but more specifically to gallbladder disease.
Why Is Vitamin D Important?
Vitamin D is a vitamin that’s essential to our overall well-being. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin that’s found in some natural food sources and it’s available as a dietary supplement. Vitamin D can also be produced in the body from the UV rays of sunshine.
In the body, vitamin D allows for calcium absorption in the gut and it helps with bone growth. It can also reduce inflammation and assist in proper immune function.
Vitamin D deficiency and gallbladder issues often go hand in hand because vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. Studies show that the intake of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D can be linked to bile acid metabolism. So when you’re deficient in this vitamin, you’re more likely to see abnormalities with bile production and gallbladder functioning. 5
Vitamin D Deficiency During Pregnancy
Nutrition and supplementation are so important during pregnancy– to improve both baby and maternal health. Many of us are unable to get adequate sun exposure or vitamin D in our diets naturally. So, understanding your vitamin D level is a must when you’re pregnant, and you can talk to your doctor about starting a supplement if needed.
Low vitamin D exposure is associated with the formation of gallstones. This suggests your vitamin D level can have an impact on developing gallbladder disease.6
Vitamin D deficiency and gallbladder disease are two things you don’t want to add to your list of things to manage during pregnancy. So take the necessary precautions and get your vitamin D level checked.
Gallbladder Disease and Pregnancy
Gallbladder issues can be more prevalent in pregnancy and the postpartum period. Even if you’re someone who hasn’t ever had gallbladder issues, there is a risk during pregnancy of impairing your gallbladder health with all the changes going on in your body.
If you’re dealing with gallbladder issues during pregnancy and postpartum, there is a lot more to consider than just a low-fat diet. You need to consider the body as a whole.
- Increased hormones and changes in progesterone and estrogen during pregnancy can impact your normal digestion
- These sex hormones can affect bile acid composition and gallbladder motility
- This can lead to an increased risk of gallstones, gallbladder pain, or gallbladder attacks during pregnancy and postpartum.
These gallbladder symptoms can be more common even months into postpartum due to hormone changes and rapid weight loss.
It can be dangerous to have gallstones during pregnancy due to complications and painful symptoms that can arise. To treat gallbladder attacks during pregnancy, follow a nutritious and gallbladder-focused diet. A low-fat diet can provide some symptom relief, especially after gallbladder attacks. But just a low-fat diet doesn’t support the bigger picture during pregnancy.
Listen to your body and care for your gallbladder during this time by looking at your body as a whole. This will allow you– and your baby– to have a healthier experience during pregnancy and postpartum.
Gallbladder disease is a higher risk when you’re pregnant. But how you support your gallbladder and liver can help you improve these symptoms in the long run.
Does Vitamin D Deficiency During Pregnancy Lead to Gallstones?
Various studies on Vitamin D and gallstones in the pregnant population have been conducted with similar findings. Cholelithiasis– or the presence of gallstones in the gallbladder– is more common to see in pregnant women. And a deficiency in Vitamin D can be associated with gallbladder stasis which occurs just before gallstone formation. 7
Vitamin D regulates bile salts which help to prevent gallstones. Studies show vitamin D deficiency increases biliary calcium which is a precursor for gallstones. And patients with gallstones are more likely to be deficient in Vitamin D. 8
More research indicates that Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy and post-partum is associated with:
- Decreased function of the gallbladder and
- Biliary dyskinesia– which is a functional disorder of the gallbladder
A role for vitamin D supplementation is thought to have the potential to prevent gallstones in soon-to-be moms. So, if you’re pregnant, taking a daily Vitamin D supplement can help to prevent gallbladder issues that may arise while carrying your baby. 7
Vitamin D Supplementation
Vitamin D supplementation raises vitamin D concentrations in both mother and infant. It may also improve gallbladder stasis, therefore reducing the risk of gallstones. Other benefits of vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy are improved insulin sensitivity and fetal health. 1
According to a recent scientific review, pregnant women should supplement with 600 IU/day of vitamin D3. Higher amounts of 1000-4000 IU/day may be indicated in some circumstances, but always consult with your healthcare provider before taking any supplements– especially while pregnant. 3
If you’re looking for vitamins or supplements, check out Fullscript: Pracitioner Grade Supplements for 15% off. I really like Seeking Health Liposomal Vitamin D and Rosita Cod Liver Oil is a great source of bioavailable vitamin D.
Learn More About Gallbladder Disease and Pregnancy
Gaining a better understanding of how to prevent and manage gallbladder disease is helpful throughout your pregnancy and postpartum period– whether you’ve dealt with gallbladder disease before or not!
As an experienced functional nutritionist who specializes in gallbladder health, I’m here to give you the education you need to improve your health. I too have dealt with gallbladder disease, but have been able to prevent gallbladder removal surgery through diet changes and lifestyle modifications. PLUS, I have personal experience managing gallbladder symptoms through the pregnancy and birth of my son.
I want to guide you to feel your most confident self throughout your pregnancy. I have personally helped new moms with navigating gallbladder disease and pregnancy.
One of my clients even was able to extend their baby’s due date so she could be born at full term as opposed to the expected premature date of 32 weeks. This is because she was able to work on diet changes to improve gallbladder health. Another client of mine had decreased pain over the gallbladder region throughout pregnancy ever since working together to incorporate healthy diet modifications.
Right now, I have an exclusive masterclass designed for pregnant women to help navigate their gallbladder health. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn more about avoiding gallbladder issues during pregnancy. And to help you feel successful, comfortable, and confident through your delivery.
I also offer one on one consultations to customize your meal plan and give you guidance for your specific needs. If this is something you’re interested in, I’d be eager to work with you so we can develop a nutritional plan to improve your exact situation.
Connect with me today so you too can have success throughout your pregnancy, prevent gallbladder issues, and feel healthy and confident during your pregnancy.
- Gallo S, McDermid JM, Al-Nimr RI, et al. Vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy: An evidence analysis center systematic review and meta-analysis. J Acad Nutr Diet.2020;120(5):898-924.e4. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2019.07.002
- Amrein K, Scherkl M, Hoffmann M, et al. Vitamin D deficiency 2.0: an update on the current status worldwide. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2020;74(11):1498-1513. doi:10.1038/s41430-020-0558-y
- Pérez-López FR, Pilz S, Chedraui P. Vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy: an overview: An overview. Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol. 2020;32(5):316-321. doi:10.1097/GCO.0000000000000641
- Singla R, Dutta U, Aggarwal N, Bhadada SK, Kochhar R, Dhaliwal LK. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with gallbladder stasis among pregnant women. Dig Dis Sci. 2015;60(9):2793-2799. doi:10.1007/s10620-015-3678-9
- Schmidt DR, Holmstrom SR, Fon Tacer K, Bookout AL, Kliewer SA, Mangelsdorf DJ. Regulation of bile acid synthesis by fat-soluble vitamins A and D. J Biol Chem. 2010 May 7;285(19):14486-94. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.116004. Epub 2010 Mar 16. PMID: 20233723; PMCID: PMC2863217.
- Shabanzadeh DM, Jørgensen T, Linneberg A, Sørensen LT, Skaaby T. Vitamin D, and gallstone disease-A population-based study. Endocrine. 2016 Dec;54(3):818-825. doi: 10.1007/s12020-016-1113-4. Epub 2016 Oct 1. PMID: 27696253.
- Onal ED, Berker D, Guler S. Vitamin D deficiency and gallbladder stasis. Dig Dis Sci.2015;60(12):3823-3824. doi:10.1007/s10620-015-3901-8
- Singh, G., Parvez, A., Chaubey, D., Thakur, S., Suparna, P. N A study of serum vitamin d3, serum calcium & biliary calcium in gallstone disease. International journal of current research