This post popped up recently on a great Facebook page, Anatomy in Motion. I highly recommend becoming a Fan of the page, especially if you are an anatomy nerd like me. I will include a link to the original post at the bottom, and here is the text in full because it is well worth the read. (I will add my own thoughts in later posts):
The liver has well over 500 functions and is known as the laboratory of the human body. The liver is tied to all bodily processes because it is responsible for filtration of all incoming foods and fluids. The body relies upon the liver to remove toxins so that nutrients supplied to the body are pure and capable of providing nourishment. Many scientist believe the liver is connected to, or at least aware, of every disease or dysfunction that is happening inside the body.
• Metabolizes proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, thus providing energy and nutrients
• Stores vitamins, minerals, and sugars
• Filters the blood and helps remove harmful chemicals and bacteria
• Creates bile which breaks down fats
• Helps to assimilate and store fat soluble vitamins (A, E, D, K)
• Stores extra blood that can be quickly released when needed
• Creates serum proteins that maintain fluid balance and act as carriers
• Helps maintain electrolyte and water balance
• Creates immune substances such as gamma globulin
• Breaks down and eliminates excess hormones
• Vascular (blood management)
• Provides blood clotting factors
• Breaks down ammonia (and other toxins) created in the colon by bacteria; thus preventing death
• Helps to maintain blood pressure
• Constructs cholesterol and estrogen, reconstructs hormones
• Humanizes nutrients, metabolizes protein, carbohydrates, fat for energy
• Synthesizes urea, constructs blood protein, interconverts amino acids
• Constructs 50,000 systems of enzymes to govern metabolic activity throughout the body
• Removes damaged red blood cells
• Converts the thyroid hormone thyroxine (T4) into it more active form triiodothyronine (T3). Inadequate conversion may lead to hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue, weight gain, poor memory and other debilitating conditions.
• Creates GTF (Glucose Tolerance Factor) from chromium, niacin and possibly glutathione. GTF is needed for the hormone insulin to properly regulate blood-sugar levels. Manufactures bile salts which emulsify fats and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K for proper absorption. The liver also removes some fat-soluble toxins from the body.
• Activates B vitamins into their biologically active coenzyme forms. Virtually every nutrient must be biotransformed by the liver into its proper biochemical form before the nutrient can be stored, transported or used in cellular metabolism.
• Stores various nutrients, especially A, D, B-12 and iron for release as needed.
• Manufactures carnitine from lysine and other nutrients. Carnitine is the only known bionutrient which can escort fats into the mitochondria where they are used to generate ATP energy. The mitochondria generate 90% of the ATP energy at the cellular level.
• Converts lactic acid from a toxic waste to an important storage fuel. Lactic acid is produced when glucose is metabolized through the energy production cycle. When excessive levels accumulate, you experience sore muscles. A healthy liver will extract lactic acid from the bloodstream and convert it into the reserve endurance fuel, glycogen.
• Serves as the main glucose buffer, preventing high or low extremes of blood sugar. The liver is the key regulator of blood sugar between meals due to its manufacture, storage, and release of glycogen, the starch form of glucose. When blood sugar is low, a healthy liver converts stored glycogen into glucose, releasing it into the bloodstream to raise blood sugar levels. When blood sugar is high, a healthy liver will convert the excess into stored glycogen or fat.
• Chief regulator of protein metabolism. The liver converts different amino acids into each other as needed.
• Produces cholesterol and converts it into the various forms needed for blood transport.
• Converts essential fatty acids such as GLA, EPA, and DHA into the lipoprotein forms necessary to allow transport via the bloodstream to the 50 trillion cells requiring fatty acids.
• Main poison-detoxifying organ in the body. The liver must break down every substance toxic to the body including metabolic wastes, insecticide and pesticide residues, drugs, alcohol, etc. Failure of this function will usually cause death in 12 to 24 hours.
• Removes ammonia, a toxic by-product of animal protein metabolism, from the body.
• Breaks down hormones after they have served their function. i.e., if the liver does not break down insulin fast enough, hypoglycemia results because the circulating insulin continues to lower blood sugar.
• The liver is vital to a host of other metabolic functions, but this brief overview should serve to illustrate the central role the liver plays in maintaining good health and the importance of implementing life-style change if necessary.
This is just the start of an extremely long list of liver functions. It is still uncertain exactly how many functions the liver is responsible for, but currently the list exceeds at least 500 different functions.
Original Post Here