5 most important functions of the liver
The liver is the heaviest and one of the most significant organs in the body. It weighs about 1.4 Kg and is located at the upper light of the abdominal cavity. After extensive research, scientists have found that the liver works as a whole industrial structure. What that means is that the liver acts as a storage place, manufacturing quarter, and assembly plant. Each of these three functions involves numerous sub-tasks which are so many that without the liver there is no chance of our body be working. In this blog, we intend to make our readers learn about the top 5 functions of the liver.
Filtration of blood
One of the liver’s main functions is to filter the body’s blood. It receives blood from two sources:
- The hepatic portal vein brings the partially oxygenated blood from the GI tract, gallbladder, pancreas, and spleen. The hepatic portal vein upon entering the liver breaks down into a network of vessels that take the blood into sinusoids. As this blood comes from the gut, it needs to be filtrated for it contains an incredible amount of toxins.
- The hepatic artery brings the oxygenated blood from the heart. This blood does not need that much filtration as it mostly contains nutrients
The unfiltered blood is filtered in the hepatocytes where the toxins are broken down and the blood is filtered. The filtered, de-oxygenated blood from the liver capillaries drains into hepatic veins from where it goes to the right portion of the heart via the inferior vena cava.
Sorting, processing, and storage of nutrients
The double delivery of blood into the liver fills it with high amounts of nutrients. The liver sorts, and processes the nutrients with the help of lobules. These lobules act as tiny internal processing plants. The blood received from the gut contains nutrients such as fats, vitamins, and carbohydrates. The lobules in the liver process each type of nutrient in a different way. For example, in the case of carbohydrates, the lobules convert into simpler sugars.
The lobules also act as a storage facility for the liver. When the nutrients are in excess amounts, the lobules in the liver holds and stack the leftover nutrients for future use.
Blood clotting and hormone formation
The liver is responsible for the formation of plasma proteins and the most abundant plasma protein formed in the liver is albumin. These plasma proteins help in the transportation of fatty acids but the main function of these proteins is the formation of blood clots.
The liver also utilizes nutrients such as fats, sugars, and proteins for the formation of cholesterol in large amounts. Cholesterol is the precursor for the metabolic reactions through which hormones are formed. Some of the main hormones formed by cholesterol activity are progesterone, estrogen, androgen, etc.
Maintaining blood glucose levels
The liver works with the pancreas to maintain blood glucose levels. The liver stores the sugar in the form of glycogen. When the body experiences low levels of glucose, the pancreatic cells secrete glucagon. Glucagon acts as a stimulant for the conversion of glycogen into glucose. This instant release of glucose in hypoglycemia prevents the body from symptoms like:
The liver has a major role in the digestion of fats and the absorption of vitamins. The hepatocytes within the lobules convert the toxins present in the blood into a green bitter serum called bile. This bile is transported to the gallbladder via a common hepatic duct. The gallbladder acts as a reservoir of bile. When you take a meal, the bile is released from the gallbladder. Bile helps to digest and absorb fats and vitamins. Some of the important vitamins that the bile helps to absorb are; Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K. These vitamins help the liver to expand its territory of importance for various other organs. Apart from this, bile also helps in the following:
- Destruction of microbes
- Neutralization of extra stomach acid
- Carrying other toxins out of the liver
From the above information, it might be clear by now that liver is an extremely industrial site performing multiple tasks that is in complete coordination with each other. Such a complex system needs to be in a smooth motion by keeping it healthy and not overloading it with toxins. The measures to be taken in order to maintain the health of the liver is a topic for another blog but you can always get advice from the best specialists.
We at Alfa Gastro and Liver Care are at your service with the best professional doctors to maintain a healthy liver because it is one factor that no one can afford to shut down.