man with stomachache, bile acids

How to control bile acid

Bile acid forms in the liver and is released to the intestine through the bile duct, along with the other components of bile. It is essential for the absorption of fat from the intestine and the digestion of fat. Bile acids are “recycled” from the intestine. If the mucous membrane is damaged, it cannot be recovered again and is lost in the body.

What are bile acids?

Bile acid is formed from cholesterol and is part of bile. It is essential for the digestion of fats. The main bile acids are cholic acid and chenodeoxycholic acid.

Liver cells release 800 to 1,000 milliliters of this fluid per day, which flows into the duodenum through the biliary tract. There, the bile acids favor the digestion of fats. If the intestine does not need bile, it is stored in the gallbladder.

The body recycles bile acids six to ten times. Having been involved in the digestion of food in the intestine, it is absorbed by the intestinal cells and transported back to the liver through the blood. This can again release them into the bile ducts.

The total amount of bile acids in the body is approximately four grams. About 0.5 grams is excreted in the feces each day, and the liver replaces it with new bile acids.

When is your blood concentration determined?

Bile acid concentration is determined in diseases of the liver and intestine. It can be measured in blood serum.

Blood values

The concentration in blood that is considered “normal” depends on age:

AgeNormal value
up to 4 weeks<29 µmol / l
5 weeks to 1 year<9 µmol / l
from 2 years<6 µmol / l

When is the level of bile acid reduced?

With certain diseases, the body can lose more and more bile acids through the stool. In the case of “bile acid loss syndrome,” the intestine is damaged and cannot absorb it again.

This happens, for example, in Crohn’s disease or after an operation to remove the small intestine.

When does the level of bile acid increase?

The concentration of bile acids in the blood increases with:

  • Inflammation of the liver
  • Hepatic injury
  • Stasis of bile juices in the bile ducts (bile ducts, gallbladder)

Changes in the levels of bile acid in the blood: what to do?

The nature of the complaint may give clues as to its cause. The doctor will carry out further tests to clarify the increased or decreased values. In addition to bile acid concentration, liver values are also generally determined.

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