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Bile Deficient: Some Common Signs

Bile is a fluid that helps break down fats, and help extract essential fatty acids or vitamins like A, D, E and K from different foods you eat. Then bile draws these nutrients into the body, so bile deficiency plays a big role in your body utilizing nutrients found in fat. Things you might already know about bile:

1. It acts as a disinfectant for the intestines, which helps keep the microbial balance on point

2. A lubricant for pushing waste along the colon (otherwise possible constipation can be experienced)

3. It helps with controlling the amount of fat build-up in the liver (fatty liver)

4. Aids in elimination of excess cholesterol in the body

5. Helps stop the buildup of gall stones

Symptoms will help you or your doctor decide if you are deficient in bile. Let’s start from the beginning and analyze the diet. The recommended daily (RDI) intake of vitamin A for a female is 2333IU, which would approximately equal 1 cup of sweet potato and 1 cup mango chunks. If you are consuming what you body needs, then everything should be fine…right? Let’s do a quick check for vitamin A deficiency with a few common symptoms:

Hard little bumps on the arms around the elbow area

Dry or rough skin


Dry hair

Poor night vision

Slow light to dark adaptation

Unable to produce tears

Weak tooth enamel


Maybe you noticed your skin is dry and set blame on the winter heater or dry air. The main priority of vitamin A is to protect the mucous membranes and epithelial tissues. Of course, it has other important jobs and dry skin is a symptom for vitamin E deficiency too. Staying focused on dry skin, vitamin A can’t do its job optimally if the levels are low. If you are consuming enough vitamin A, then the next step is to look at the manufacturing sector of the body. If there’s not enough bile, then vitamin A can’t be extracted from food. This is one way I help my clients find the root cause of their complaints, by asking so many questions.

Vitamin D is something many individuals consume in supplement form usually from a recommendation, if you are experiencing signs of deficiency such as:

Muscle weakness

Pain in ribs, spine, legs

Muscle cramps

Mouth burning or throat



Rickets (children)


Vitamin D has a role as a hormone and vitamin, so there is a higher need to maintain required levels through food sources (egg yolks, fatty fish, mushrooms, cheese, beef liver) or sunlight exposure on your skin or supplementation. The RDI in Canada is 600IU or 800IU if you are over 70 years of age. This would approximately be 1 egg yolk (44 IU) and 3oz sockeye salmon (570 IU) or 2 egg mushroom & cheddar cheese omelet (471 IU) and 1 cup of almond milk (144). Before going straight for the vitamin D supplement, try cod liver oil as it has 680 IU in ½ tbsp.

Vitamin E helps fight invasive bacteria and viruses, helps with blood clotting by widening blood vessels, it helps protect cells by acting as an antioxidant and is found in foods like pumpkin, almonds, sunflower seeds and peanut butter. Deficiency has been linked to diseases like Crohn's and cystic fibrosis. Nerve and muscle damage can occur from vitamin E deficiency with symptoms of:

Muscle weakness

Weakened immune system

Vision issues

Loss of feeling in limbs

Hot flashes

A sluggish gall bladder will have symptoms of belching and bloat after a meal because it aids in digestion (break down of fats), therefore it remains in the stomach longer. If you have no gall bladder, then the release of bile becomes inconsistent and sometimes requires bile salt supplement. Sometimes you have to look at the tools provided for you body to do a job or if there is damage in another department. Some other factors that lead to bile deficiency can be not consuming enough saturated fats that stimulate bile to be released (butter, coconut oil, animal fat). Fat soluble vitamins need some fat to be digested or absorbed. Taking these vitamins with foods that contain fat is always a good idea. Your stool will float or be lighter in colour, if fat isn’t being absorbed. Low gut bacteria can contribute to low bile, as they help recycle bile in the body. Also, the gastrointestinal tract won’t be as efficient at absorbing bile salts for recycling, if it has scar tissue.


  1. Are you consuming enough fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K?

  2. Are you consuming enough fat to aid vitamins for digestion?

  3. How are your gut bacteria levels?

  4. Is your stool floating?


Author: Janette de Vries RHN, B.ed, H.BA

Abrahams, Peter Dr., How the Body Works: A Comprehensive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Anatomy. London, UK. Amber Books: 2013, (p.260-261).


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