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How Vitamins Can Get Rid of Gallbladder Calcifications
Unfortunately, many people with gallstones or gallbladder problems often find themselves eating little to no fat of any kind since eating fatty meals frequently will lead to digestive discomfort. However, though not eating much fat may avoid exacerbating some gallbladder-related symptoms, the reality is that the gallbladder, and the rest of your body, needs fat. Specifically, the body thrives on healthy fats (in terms of healthy, fatty foods, think extra virgin olive oil, fish oil, fats from grass-fed, organic meats and milks, etc). Without these healthy fats, the body isn’t able to absorb any amount of the fat soluble vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamins K1 and K2. The gallbladder also ultimately won’t function well without these fats (in fact, not eating enough fats encourages bile build up in the gallbladder, leading to gallbladder sludge and gallstones).
Vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin K2 in particular are especially important for gallbladder health. These three vitamins work together in the body to maintain balance and encourage healthy growth and function throughout the digestive system, nervous system, and the rest of the body. Many people take supplemental vitamin D and vitamin A, but comparatively few people also include a vitamin K2 supplement in with their daily supplements. Though some people may be getting small amounts of vitamin K2 from their diets, most people aren’t getting anywhere near enough, and without vitamin K2, vitamins A and D are unable to do their jobs correctly. Vitamin D’s role without vitamin K2 can be especially detrimental.
How does vitamin D work in the body?
In order to understand exactly how vitamin K2 deficiency can cause gallstones and other gallbladder problems, a basic understanding of vitamin D is helpful. In this section I’ll review the basics of vitamin D’s function.
Vitamin D comes in two forms: vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Vitamin D2 comes from food, and is found in fish liver oils and fatty fish, egg yolks, cheeses, beef liver, and some kinds of mushrooms. Vitamin D3, in contrast, is naturally produced by the body when the skin is exposed to the sun. Though vitamin D2 consumption is important, the vast majority of our vitamin D requirement is ultimately met through exposure to UVB rays from the sun. After the previtamin D is formed after sun exposure, the liver and the kidneys are responsible for processing and converting this previtamin into its active form (note that vitamin D2 is also processed in the liver and kidneys; interestingly, vitamin K2 is present in fairly large amounts in the kidneys, too).
The parathyroid plays an important role in vitamin D’s function in the body. Parathyroid hormone (PTH) is required in order to stimulate the conversion of previtamin D into its active usable form, and high or low levels of this hormone also tell active vitamin D what to do with calcium. If serum calcium levels are low, the parathyroid releases PTH, which then tells the vitamin D to increase intestinal intake of calcium, increase reabsorption of calcium in the kidneys (thus limiting the removal of any calcium that may be circulating in your body), and to even take calcium from the bones if dietary calcium levels are inadequate. Vitamin D and PTH also work together to regulate serum phosphorus levels. PTH can increase the excretion of phosphorus in the urine, and also reduce kidney reabsorption of this mineral if serum phosphorus levels are too high. Meanwhile, should serum phosphorus levels get low, the active form of vitamin D can tell the body to increase intestinal absorption of this nutrient (similar to with calcium).
So how does all of this have to do with the gallbladder?
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin. A person must be eating sufficient amounts of healthy fats and also have a gallbladder that’s secreting adequate levels of quality bile to digest said fats in order to be able to absorb and/or process vitamin D. As a fat soluble vitamin, vitamin D is stored in the fat on the body. If you don’t have any fat in your diet, chances are that any vitamin D3 that you get from the sun isn’t being well-absorbed, stored, and utilized either. Even if you eat fats, though, and even if they’re healthy, good-for-you fats, if your gallbladder isn’t working right, you won’t actually be absorbing most of those fats.
So, ultimately, a gallbladder issue could very well lead to a vitamin D deficiency (and vice versa). In addition, since vitamin D is produced in the liver (which is attached to and works intimately with the gallbladder), issues with bile will interfere with vitamin D production and activation. Inactive vitamin D can’t function as needed in the body. Thus, even if you hang out in the sun enough and get vitamin D2 in your diet, that vitamin D you’re getting may or may not actually be being converted into its active form or absorbed at all, leading to a deficiency (even if it’s a minor one) if you have an existing gallbladder problem. This is somewhat a self-perpetuating cycle (it’s difficult to say which comes first: the deficiency or the gallbladder/liver issues).
Some of the symptoms of a vitamin D deficiency include these (note that some of these are less severe while others are more severe):
- Rickets (in children) and osteomalacia (in adults)
- Secondary hyperparathyroidism (symptoms include osteoporosis, kidney stones, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, frequent urination, etc)
- Increased risk of colorectal and breast cancer, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, SLE (systemic lupus erythematosus), eczema, Crohn’s disease, and some neurodegenerative diseases
- Muscle weakness
- Mood changes and mood swings
- Hair loss
- Poor wound healing
- Back pain
- And more…
While a lot of people know that vitamin D is important, what most people DON’T know is that you should always take vitamin D WITH vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 is a more recently discovered vitamin (previously deemed “Activator X” by Weston Price) with an essential role in regulating vitamin D’s function in the body. It is also an extremely important nutrient for overall gallbladder health. If you suspect you may have a vitamin D deficiency (and if you have a gallbladder problem, chances are good that your body is running low on all of the fat soluble vitamins, including vitamin A/beta-carotene and vitamin E, too), choose a high-quality, high dose vitamin K2+D3 supplement instead of a supplement that only contains vitamin D3. Below we’ll look more closely at vitamin K2 and how it works to treat gallstones and porcelain gallbladder.
Vitamin K2 and Gallstones and Gallbladder Calcification (Porcelain Gallbladder)
Vitamin K2 is perhaps one of the most important vitamin supplements for the treatment of gallstones. Porcelain gallbladder, a condition characterized by calcification of the gallbladder, can also be treated using vitamin K2. We’ve already discussed the symptoms of gallstones so I won’t list them here, but I will include the symptoms of porcelain gallbladder, which are:
- Abdominal pain
Porcelain gallbladder is a comparatively rare diagnosis, while gallstones are significantly more common, but it still deserves a mention since the cause of this kind of calcification is directly linked to vitamin K2. Interestingly, vitamin K2 deficiency is also linked to the more common problem of gallstones. In fact, sometimes these two problems even develop together, with gallbladder calcification leading to a blockage in the bile duct, and the subsequent buildup and calcification of bile into gallstones. Other names for porcelain gallbladder include calcified gallbladder and calcifying cholecystitis.
Vitamin K2 deficiency, particularly when combined with excess amounts of vitamin D and/or calcium, inevitably leads to calcification of the soft tissues of the body, including not only the gallbladder, but also the veins and arteries, kidneys, reproductive organs, glands, and others. Reversal of this calcification is dependent on restoring adequate levels of vitamin K2 to the body. Once the body is receiving enough vitamin K2, it will be able to decalcify the previously calcified areas and send the calcium back to where it belongs in the teeth and bones. Previous calcifications in the gallbladder (or in other areas) can be reversed.
When vitamin D isn’t being activated in the body due to issues with fat absorption or functionality issues in the liver (and kidneys), it isn’t able to do its job regulating serum calcium levels. Calcium levels may become too low or too high, and there will be no “manager” to tell the calcium where to go in the body. And, even if the vitamin D is active, if the person doesn’t have enough vitamin K2 stored in their body or if they aren’t consuming enough through dietary sources, the vitamin D is highly liable to misplace calcium either by depositing dietary calcium in soft tissues, arteries, etc. or by mistakenly directing the body to remove calcium from the bones.
Taking a vitamin K2 + D3 supplement solves these problems by ensuring that the body isn’t deficient in either one of these essential nutrients.
In addition to working with vitamin D3 to ensure appropriate calcium usage, vitamin K2 may play a role in regulating the activation of digestive enzymes secreted by the pancreas. In fact, vitamin K2 is stored in the highest amounts in the pancreas, suggesting its importance for the function of this organ. Pancreatic enzymes, like bile, are similarly important for food digestion and subsequent nutrient absorption. They also play a vital role in the treatment of cancer and other autoimmune conditions like psoriasis. Though studies on vitamin K2’s role in activating digestive, pancreatic enzymes are limited, assuming that this connection is accurate, inadequate vitamin K2 levels may lead to inactivated digestive enzymes and therefore improperly digested food.
Vitamin K2 is also secreted in higher amounts in the salivary glands. As saliva also contains enzymes and, in fact, is part of the digestion process (chewing and the secretion of saliva starts the breakdown of food into its component parts), it’s possible that vitamin K2 is also important for the activation of these digestive enzymes in the saliva.
NOTE: Gallstones and kidney stones have a remarkably similar pathogenesis in many cases, and it’s worth noting that vitamin K2 deficiency has been scientifically proven to contribute to the development of calcium oxalate kidney stones specifically. Pigment gallstones are caused by calcium build up, too (though other types of gallstones are likely to be related to a vitamin K2 and/or vitamin D deficiency too).
How to Take Vitamin K2 and D3
Always take these two vitamins together in a combined supplement. Unless you’re treating a very severe vitamin D deficiency, don’t take vitamin D3 on its own without vitamin K2 at the same time. Even in this case, take vitamin K2 with some vitamin D3. This ensures that you won’t experience symptoms related to vitamin D toxicity/vitamin K2 deficiency or poorly functioning vitamin D (as discussed above, vitamin D doesn’t do as well without clear directions from vitamin K2).
Vitamin K2 is available mostly in MK-4 and MK-7 forms in supplements. Though both of these are fine to take, the MK-7 form is ideal since it’s the natural form (MK-4 is synthetically produced, and even though it supposedly performs the same in the body as MK-7, natural forms are always better when it comes to vitamins and other supplements). In regard to vitamin D, most supplements will contain the correct form, but double check to make sure that they contain cholecalciferol, vitamin D3, since this vitamin is better absorbed in supplement form than vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol).
For the treatment of gallbladder problems, a higher dose of these vitamins should be taken together. Take a combined supplement to ensure that you’re getting enough vitamin K2 for the amount of vitamin D you’re taking (taking a combined supplement takes out the guesswork of figuring out the correct ratio of vitamin K2 to D3), and don’t go beyond 5000 IU of vitamin D3 per day (this is equivalent to approximately 125mcg).
Also take an ox bile supplement and a pancreatic enzyme supplement with your fat-soluble vitamin supplements (such as vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin K2, and vitamin E) to ensure that these nutrients are able to be broken down and absorbed by your body. If your gallbladder isn’t working optimally and isn’t releasing or producing enough bile, even if you take these supplements, they may not actually be absorbed. Taking an ox bile supplement with them can bypass this issue and correct the nutritional issues that may be at the core of the gallbladder issue in the first place (later on, you may not need to take ox bile once your gallbladder regains its health).
 Health Jade Team (n.d.). Porcelain gallbladder. Retrieved June 17, 2022 from: https://healthjade.net/porcelain-gallbladder/
 Higdon, Jane, et. al. (2021). Vitamin D. Retrieved June 17, 2022 from: https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/vitamin-D
 Masterjohn, Christopher (2008). On the Trail of the Elusive X-Factor: A Sixty-Two-Year-Old Mystery Finally Solved. Retrieved June 17, 2022 from: https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/abcs-of-nutrition/on-the-trail-of-the-elusive-x-factor-a-sixty-two-year-old-mystery-finally-solved/