Can Vitamin C Help Protect Against Gallstones?

Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is one of the most frequently purchased over-the-counter supplements, especially during the flu season. It’s known for its wound healing, immune-boosting, and antioxidant properties. But did you know that regular Vitamin C supplementation may help prevent gallstones and improve gallbladder health?

Vitamin C supplementation may affect bile acid production.

Some experimental studies have shown that Vitamin C plays a crucial role in bile acid production by increasing the rate cholesterol is transformed into bile acid. This can also be shown reversed by observing that patients with this vitamin deficiency experience reduced bile acid biogenesis. Supersaturation of bile with cholesterol precedes the formation of cholesterol gallstones.

While some recent research shows inconclusive or inconsistent results regarding this Vitamin C hypothesis on human subjects, there is still enough evidence to support it in animal studies. 

Vitamin C may help reduce total serum cholesterol.

Vitamin C is believed to have cholesterol-lowering and cardioprotective properties, which reduce the risk of gallstones. One study showed that ascorbic acid increases lecithin cholesterol acyltransferase (LCAT) activity. This enzyme is involved in the process of transporting cholesterol out of the blood and tissues, resulting in cholesterol being more efficiently transported into the liver by molecules called lipoproteins. Once in the liver, cholesterol may be redistributed in the body or expelled in the feces. This study supports the idea that increased Vitamin C levels elevate cholesterol turnover rate and decrease total serum cholesterol levels. Other findings also support evidence suggesting that the cholesterol-lowering effect of vitamins is due to their antioxidant ability.

Vitamin C may help reduce the production of mucin.

Mucin is a protein secreted in the gallbladder which has been found to precede gallstones. The production of mucin is stimulated and made worse when there is an abundance of free radicals in the body. And since Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant, it may minimize mucoprotein production. 

Research shows that regular Vitamin C intake may lower the risk of gallstone development. Some studies cite a minimum dosage of 400 mg daily, while others use 700 mg. Fortunately, taking as much as 2000 mg is safe.

Many factors affect the development of gallstones. The most significant factor is still diet. So while taking vitamin supplements is a good idea, it is still most important to consume plenty of gallbladder-friendly fruits and vegetables and to limit our intake of foods that increase inflammation and provoke poor bile health. Visit our Gallbladder Diet page and download our Gallbladder food list for free!


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