Bile is a fluid that is made and released by the liver and stored in the gallbladder.
Bile helps with digestion. It breaks down fats into fatty acids, which can be taken into the body by the digestive tract.
- Mostly cholesterol
- Bile acids (also called bile salts)
- Bilirubin (a breakdown product or red blood cells)
It also contains:
- Body salts (such as potassium and sodium)
- Copper and other metals
Costanzo LS. Gastrointestinal physiology. In: Costanzo LS, ed. Physiology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 8.
Jackson PG, Evans SRT. Biliary system. In: Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 54.
Review Date 8/13/2020
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.