What Are the Functions of the Liver?


Quick Answer

Functions of human liver include working with the pancreas and intestines to process and absorb food, and filtering blood from the digestive tract, according to WebMD. The liver is primarily responsible for detoxifying chemicals or drugs within the body, however.

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Full Answer

The liver achieves the detoxification of drugs and alcohol through the use of enzymes, bile, and urine, indicates Health Freedom Resources. Enzymes may be used to burn toxins in combination with oxygen, making them more easily able to be expelled from the body. Bile and urine may them act to add sulfur or amino acids for the final step of removal.

Further functions of the liver include storing vitamins and iron, storing glucose, converting sugar when bodily glucose levels drop, breaking down hemoglobin and processing insulin, converting ammonia to urea (which expels extra nitrogen through urine), and destroying worn-out red blood cells, states Healthline. Of these, processing sugar and insulin is perhaps the second most critical function to detoxification.

The liver is a storehouse for sugar between meals, explains the University of California, San Francisco. It also allows for the compound to be converted to glucose when a surge of energy is needed. This is achieved through glycogenolysis (the process of turning glycogen to glucose) or through gluconeogenesis (harvesting amino acids, waste, and fat). Insulin levels are regulated to allow for sugar storage at meal times.

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