Liver, Our Bodyguard: What Are the Most Important Functions of the Liver In Our Body?

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The liver, our bodyguard, is the largest solid organ in the body. It is reddish-brown with a rubbery texture. And weighs between 3.17 and 3.66 pounds or between 1.44 and 1.66 kilograms. It is situated above and to the left of the stomach and below the lungs. The liver acts as a cleansing organ of the body by removing toxic/harmful substances.

Liver diseases (due to drugs, toxins, adulterated food, alcohol, virus, and pollutants) are a largely neglected health issue and recent reports indicate that they affect over 10% of the world population, with the highest burden in low and middle-income countries that have minimal medical resources. According to National statistics in the UK, liver diseases have been ranked as the fifth most common cause of death in India.

Also Read: Are Chicken Eggs Good Or Bad For Cholesterol?

Liver as our bodyguard: A list of the major functions of the liver in our body

  1. Bile production: Bile helps the small intestine break down and absorb fats, cholesterol, and some vitamins. 
  2. Promoting RBC formation:  Iron, stored in the liver, is used to make the next generation of red blood cells.
  3. Supporting blood clotting: Bile, made in the liver, is essential for vitamin K absorption which is necessary for clotting the blood. 
  4. Fat digestion: Bile breaks down fats and makes them easier to digest.
  5. Protein digestion: Bile helps break down proteins for digestion.
  6. Maintaining normal blood glucose levels: Carbohydrates are stored in the liver, where they are broken down into glucose and stored as glycogen. It helps in maintaining normal blood glucose levels from time to time.
  7. Vitamin and mineral storage: The liver stores vitamins A, D, E, K, and B12. It keeps significant amounts of these vitamins stored. The liver also stores iron from hemoglobin and copper to protect the body.
  8. Filters the blood (Detoxification): The liver filters and removes compounds from the body, including hormones (estrogen and aldosterone) and toxins from the body, produced by alcohol, drugs, food, and infection. 
  9. Immunity booster: Weak liver function means a weak immune system. The liver is directly involved in the proper functioning of the immune system by removing toxins and microorganisms including bacteria and viruses. Thus strong liver helps increase immunity in a natural way by creating immune system factors that can fight against infection.
  10. Production of albumin and prevention of leaking of blood: Albumin is the most common protein in blood serum. It transports fatty acids and steroid hormones to help maintain the correct pressure and prevent the leaking of blood vessels.
  11. Maintenance of blood pressure: The liver helps in the maintenance of blood pressure by forming a hormone (angiotensinogen). This hormone raises blood pressure by narrowing the blood vessels when alerted by the production of an enzyme called renin in the kidneys.
  12. Regeneration: The liver is the only organ that can regenerate. A healthy liver can regrow rapidly to its previous size and ability without any loss of function during the growth process.

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