Functions of The Liver

The liver is the only organ in the body that can easily replace damaged cells, but if enough cells are lost, the liver may not be able to meet the needs of the body.  The liver is the largest glandular organ of the body. It weighs about 3 lb (1.36 kg). It is reddish brown in color and is divided into four lobes of unequal size and shape. The liver lies on the right side of the abdominal cavity beneath the diaphragm. Blood is carried to the liver via two large vessels called the hepatic artery and the portal vein. The hepatic artery carries oxygen-rich blood from the aorta (a major vessel in the heart). The portal vein carries blood containing digested food from the small intestine. These blood vessels subdivide in the liver repeatedly, terminating in very small capillaries. Each capillary leads to a lobule. Liver tissue is composed of thousands of lobules, and each lobule is made up of hepatic cells, the basic metabolic cells of the liver

The liver has many functions. Some of the functions are: to produce substances that break down fats, convert glucose to glycogen, produce urea (the main substance of urine), make certain amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), filter harmful substances from the blood (such as alcohol), storage of vitamins and minerals (vitamins A, D, K and B12) and maintain a proper level or glucose in the blood. The liver is also responsible for producing cholesterol and other chemicals required for fat transport. It produces about 80% of the cholesterol in your body.

These functions are itemized bellow:

  • production of bile that is required in the digestion of food, in particular fats;
  • conversion of the extra glucose in the body into stored glycogen in liver cells; and  then converting it back into glucose when the need arises;
  • production of blood clotting factors;
  • production of amino acids (the building blocks for making proteins), including those used to help fight infection;
  • the processing and storage iron necessary for red blood cell production;
  • conversion of waste products of body metabolism into urea that is excreted in the urine;
  • metabolization medications into their active ingredient in the body.

References:

http://www.mamashealth.com/organs/liver.asp

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