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Sunday, January 13, 2013

What is the Function of the Liver?

What is the Function of the Liver?

Hey y'all!

Let's just dig right into the good stuff, and begin learning how our bodies' organs work and how to care for each one! I have talked about colon health and how to perform a great herbal colon cleanse here and here.Today I want to begin a series on liver health, beginning with the answer to a question many people have. What is the function of the liver?

First, let's look at some images of the liver, and note where the liver s located in the human body.

A sheep's liver. Indexed numerically, we see: 1) the right lobe, 2) the left lobe, 3) the caudate lobe, 4) the quadrate lobe, 5) the hepatic artery and portal vein, 6) the hepatic lymph nodes, and 7) the gall bladder- image by wiki

In the human body the liver is located on the right side, right under the right breast. It is parallel to the stomach and spleen in the upper abdomen.

Location of the liver in humans- image by Functions of the

The liver has many functions, including the synthesis (creation) of protein, detoxification, creating chemicals for digestion, storing glycogen, producing hormones, and decomposing red blood cells. The liver also helps to build and break down small molecules, and helps in the digestive process by producing bile which alkalizes acids. Bile also helps to emulsify fats and absorb vitamin K. The liver is believed to carry out over 500 different functions. Many diseases are associated with some form of malfunction in the liver.

The liver plays a role in the following biological functions:
  • Amino acid synthesis
  • Glucose genesis, known as gluconeogenesis
  • Breaking glycogen down into glucose, called glycogenolysis
  • Turning glucose into glycogen, known as glycogenesis
  • Metabolizing protein
  • Producing fats (lipids), including cholesterol
  • Produces the factors which cause blood to clot (coagulate)
  • Produces red blood cells in unborn babies until the bone marrow is mature enough to take over the task
  • Produces growth hormones
  • Regulates the bone marrow's production of blood platelets
  • Breaks down insulin
  • Changes ammonia (NH3) into urea
  • Breaks down toxins, including drugs, and moves them to the kidneys or bile to be eliminated
  • Stores a number of vitamins and minerals
  • Plays a major role in immune system support
  • Stabilizes blood pressure
Can you think of other functions of the liver? Please comment below.

The liver is capable of regenerating itself. With even as little as 1/4 of a liver, a whole one can be grown again.

Click on the link to enjoy an interactive site provided by Toronto General Hospital Department of Anesthesia depicting a virtual liver.

With so many important functions of the liver, can you see why it is important to maintain excellent liver health? Next week I will describe how to do this naturally.


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