Fun Facts: Why is the Liver so Amazing?

While most people may not spend much time thinking about it, the liver is essential for running a wide array of functions to keep the body functioning and healthy. It is special on a number of levels. For one, the liver is the human body’s largest internal organ. When it comes to the body’s organs, only the skin is larger. The liver is also special because it has the charge of hundreds of various functions; these range from the fighting of infections to helping the blood clot, from making proteins to manufacturing hormones.

The Liver Filters Blood

The liver is an organ that is reddish-brown and features two lobes, one on the right and the other on the left. It is positioned atop the gallbladder and beside portions of the intestines and pancreas. These organs work together as a team in the digestion and absorption of food. The liver’s main function, however, is filtering the blood as it arrives from the direction of the digestive tract; the blood then continues on to the rest of the body. The liver is also responsible for the detoxification of chemicals and metabolization of drugs.

The Liver Has Many Jobs

An extremely complicated organ, the liver has a role in nearly every function of the body. Over 500 distinct functions are carried out by this remarkable part of the body. It makes and stores energy, processes drugs that range from prescriptions and over-the-counter medications to drugs that are abused, and plays a significant part in the functioning of the immune system. The liver produces and excretes bile, the acids of which are critical for the digestion and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and fats inside the small intestine. It also stores minerals and vitamins.

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The Liver is Both an Organ and a Gland

Normal organs have a particular job that is localized to one section of the body. A gland is a specialized type of organ responsible for removing substances from the within the blood, altering or processing them, and then releasing them to further sections of the body or simply eliminating them. Because the liver, which filters the toxins of the body and pushes them from it, functions in this respect, it is additionally a gland.

The Liver is a Regenerating Organ

The liver is also unique amongst the organs for its ability to completely regrow from as little as a quarter of the tissue originally present. A person can donate more than half of their liver in a transplant and still have it return to its normal size within two weeks. This is vitally important because of the liver’s many functions and the body’s reliance upon the organ. It can lose a lot of mass without the vitality of the whole body being jeopardized.

The Liver is a Bloody Organ

The liver, kidneys, is a filter for the blood. It removes toxins from the blood and is responsible for the breaking down of old blood cells. It also is responsible for the production of proteins that clot blood. It is further known for its capacity for blood, holding about a tenth of the body’s blood when it is at its fullest. Dr. Todd Watts from Microbe Formulas explains that approximately one pint of blood is flowing throughout a healthy individual’s liver at any given time. To put it another way, nearly a liter and a half of blood is pumped through the liver each minute.

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The Liver is an Essential Organ

Even the brain relies on a liver that is healthy. Because the liver serves as a major facet in the regulation of levels of glucose, plasma, and ammonia, it serves to protect against a condition called hepatic encephalopathy; this leads to an eventual coma. The dangerous condition is often observed in patients who are diagnosed with cirrhosis. Its most serious signs include disorientation, confusion, amnesia, stupor, and coma.

The Liver is a Prevalent Organ

Humans are not alone in featuring the vital tasks of the liver. Every vertebrate, or living creature that features a backbone or spinal column, has one. If it contains a spinal cord, it has a liver. The livers of all vertebrates feature the same necessary tasks regardless of the creature’s size and shape.

The Liver is the Source of Bile

When the liver removes chemicals from the blood, they are sent to the intestines as bile. These chemicals are thereafter removed in the form of stool or feces. Chemicals may also go on to the kidneys and be filtered from the body as urine. Livers produce bile, and bile helps to digest food. Without bile, bodies would quite simply fail in removing toxins from the body. Bile also is important because it assists in breaking down fats into smaller particles that are more readily digested. Bile is the reason stool is characteristically brown.

The Liver is a Bilirubin Filter

The body produces a toxic chemical that is called bilirubin. If permitted to pass into the kidneys unfiltered, this chemical can damage them. The liver filters the chemical, making it safe before passing it along to the kidneys, which filters it out along with urine. This substance gives urine its characteristic yellow color.

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The Liver is a Storehouse Organ

The liver is also particularly unique in that it stores sugar but does not utilize it for energy. The liver is actually a storehouse of all excess sugar that is consumed, stored in the form of glycogen. When the body needs sugar between meals, the liver is responsible for breaking down glycogen for the formation of glucose. The glucose is then utilized as fuel for energy.

The liver is a remarkable organ. About the weight of a small Chihuahua and the size of a football, it is responsible for over 500 functions in the bodies of vertebrates. Despite its vital roles, it can pose a problem for physicians as liver conditions can be without symptoms. Liver tests can be normal even when the liver has suffered a serious injury. Still, its regenerative capacity is wondrous and it is the foundation of many of the body’s defenses. The liver is a truly amazing part of the body.

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