Liver

liverliver

Digestive Function
Endocrine Function
Cardiovascular Function
User's Manual
Amazing Facts
Related Links

At about 4 pounds the liver is the largest gland in the body and the largest abdominal organ. It serves many functions, contributing to the digestive, endocrine and circulatory systems.

Digestive Function

  • Produces and secretes bile which assists digestion by breaking down fat into small globules, assisting the absorption of some vitamins and promoting the muscular movement of the gut (peristalsis).
  • Secretes molecular ions within the bile to neutralize acid in the duodenum.

Endocrine Function

  • Secretes a "growth factor" hormone, stimulating growth of bone and other tissues.
  • Metabolizes thyroid regulating hormones.
  • Breaks down hormones after they've served out their function.
  • Produces hormones that stimulate blood clotting.

Cardiovascular Function

  • Converts cholesterol into bile acids.
  • Produces many substances in the blood.
  • Converts and stores many substances from the blood.
  • Cleans the blood of toxins, (insecticide residues, drugs, alcohol, and other harmful chemicals) combines them with less toxic substances, and sends them to be excreted by the bowels or kidneys.
  • Breaks down old blood cells.
  • Stores energy in the form of glucose and fat.
  • Converts glucose and fat into sugar when energy is needed.

User's Manual

You only get one liver. Yes it has the ability to repair itself. However, a number of things can damage it beyond its ability to self-repair.

Alcohol damages liver cells. The more alcohol you drink, the more damaged liver cells are replaced with non-functional connective tissue. In heavy drinkers, the connective tissue continues to infiltrate the liver until it's bloated and unable to function. This condition is called cirrhosis, a disease that frequently ends in a painful death.

Tylenol can be damaging on your liver as well, especially when mixed with alcohol. To be safe, never take Tylenol when drinking or to combat a hang-over.

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Amazing Facts

The liver is the only internal organ that will completely regenerate itself if partly damaged. Up to 25% can be removed and within a short period of time it will grow back to its original size and shape. That is if the remaining liver is healthy!

Related Links

Alcohol

Glands involved in digestion

Digestion

Organs that clean the blood

The Endocrine System

Other Glands