Elevated liver enzymes

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 08, 2011 at 4:04 AM

I had blood work back in early January and my ALT was slightly elevated at 58. Fast forward six weeks and a new set of labs has my ALT at 79. A few sidenotes...I am pregnant and I was taking digestive enzymes at the time of both sets of labs. Could either of these factors cause an elevated ALT or is it more likely due to the protein and fat my liver is processing? My most recent pre-paleo labs were taken about 18 months ago and my ALT was well within the normal range. I have been pretty strict paleo for six months.

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4 Answers



on March 08, 2011
at 04:43 AM

Is your doctor saying anything about this? There are several conditions acquired during pregnancy that will cause elevated liver enzymes. Your doc should be monitoring you for any other weird symptoms and checking other things on your labs to make sure everything else is progressing smoothly.

Digestive enzymes don't have anything to do with the liver; their purpose is to break stuff down in your GI tract, and once they've done their job they get recycled (enzymes are catalyzing proteins). I have my doubts that diet is causing this either, unless you have suddenly decided to go on a fructose binge.

Might be worthwhile to do as Flag Gal suggests and inquire about your gallbladder. If you spent a significant amount of time on a low-fat diet of any sort, your gallbladder didn't get much of a workout, and bile can collect in the gallbladder and crystallize. You don't notice it until you start eating more fat because--dun-dun-DUN--your gallbladder's not doing enough work for you to feel the crystals or stones. It's when you get it going again that the symptoms show up. But if you're not feeling pain in that general area I wonder if you're going to find anything.

But yeah. Ask your doctor. It's possible to get a type of fatty liver that's brought on by pregnancy, and there are several other possibilities and a few of them are more serious (HELLP syndrome came up pretty quick in my Google results when I looked). Any way you look at it, no matter how healthy you were going in, the game changes when you get pregnant and you may find your body doing bizarre things you never thought you'd catch it doing. Good luck.


on March 08, 2011
at 04:34 AM

Hmmm...can I ask if you deal with diarrhea sometimes? Yeah, not a lovely thing to ask, but I also had issues with elevated liver enzymes.

I ended up with elevated liver enzymes for the prior two years' sets of lab work. After an ultrasound it was confirmed that I had gallstones, which seems to have caused the elevated numbers. I'm guessing that my change from years of vegetarianism and a very SAD diet to a low-carb primal-type diet did not make my digestive system happy (all other health markers improved dramatically).

After researching gallbladder and gallstones (who would have thought that learning about bile would be interesting?), I started taking enzymes, probiotics, plus supplementing with magnesium. After a year of doing this, my lab results now show no elevated liver enzymes. Yay! Oh, to have started on digestive enzymes and probiotics much sooner!

I still have to be careful about too much fat, but my digestive system seems much happier. You may want to read up about gallbladder and gallstones. It may not be causing your problems, but that was what caused my elevated enzymes.



on March 08, 2011
at 02:08 PM

For all I know your numbers are normal for a pregnant woman. That said, here are some things that might help (and can't hurt): cutting sugar, cutting omega 6 (down to about 4% of calories), getting omega 3s up to about 1-2% of calories, and getting enough choline (eggs, liver, heart).

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on March 08, 2011
at 04:41 AM

I just had some blood work and mine was elevated at 48 (10-35 range). I figured it was because of the extensive hiking I did in the days leading up to it, since that will elevate them. I wouldn't be surprised if paleo puts people a little bit above a range that would have been established based on the "normal" levels of probably all grain eaters. 79 sounds pretty high though.

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