What Does Your Liver Do?

“What does the liver do” is an article to help explain the functions of your liver.

This vital organ is also a gland. Glands secrete stuff, and the stuff that our liver secretes is bile. It is also the second largest organ, since our skin is our largest organ. However, the liver is the largest organ and gland inside our bodies.

It is located just below our diaphragm, and primarily in the upper right part of our abdomen. However, the left lobe of the liver does extend into the upper left part of the abdomen.

In general, your liver has five principle jobs, which are:

  • Breakdown of nutrients
  • Manufacture of proteins and cholesterol
  • Storage of glucose, vitamin B12, fats, copper and iron
  • Forms and secretes bile
  • Eliminates certain body waste products, excess cholesterol and bilirubin and detoxifies harmful drugs, alcohol and environmental toxins

About 99% of nutrients that enters our bloodstream through digestion is broken down into useful forms for the manufacture of proteins by our liver. Proteins, of course, are the structural components of our body.

Hence, our liver breaks down nutrients into smaller components, and then reassembles these components into proteins that our body needs for structural integrity and the transport of blood components.

Whatever nutrients that are not turned into proteins or cholesterol, are turned into and stored as glucose. Glucose is a simple sugar that our body uses as fuel. When our body needs more fuel, the liver first releases glucose. If more is needed, it then breaks down fats and proteins into glucose.

Our liver is not only an organ, but also a gland since it secretes bile. Bile aids in the absorption of fats and fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Bile is a greenish fluid that contains bile salts, cholesterol, lecithin and bilirubin.

Bilirubin comes from the breakdown of worn-out red blood cells. It is one of the few waste products in bile. If bilirubin is formed more rapidly than it can be excreted, it accumulates in the body and causes jaundice. Patients with jaundice appear yellowish, with this color being seen most easily in the whites of their eyes.

Our bodies are exposed to chemical toxins not only from digestion or things we inject into ourselves, but also from waste products produced by our bodies. These toxins are body waste, drugs, alcohol, chemicals and microorganisms.

The liver first removes these toxins from our bloodstream. It then breaks them down into smaller and more manageable molecules. It turns dangerous chemicals into less harmful ones or packages them for easy disposal through our bile or urine. It does this by wrapping these toxins in a water soluble blanket, which then leaves out body through our urine or feces.

What is really interesting about our liver is that it can regenerate itself, if it is not severely diseased. If our liver is damaged, it will quickly regenerate itself and try to restore normal function. If a part of our liver is cut out, much of it will grow back.

What does the liver do?

It has many vital functions, but basically, it breaks down nutrients, stores energy and vitamins and detoxifies dangerous chemicals and microorganisms.

References

Dr. Oz -What Does The Liver Do?
MedicineNet – Liver…The Largest Gland in the Body

For additional information, see Fatty Liver Diet.