What Does the Liver Do?

liver Credit: mariobonifacio/CC-BY-SA 2.0

The liver helps with digestion and also helps remove toxins from the body. Among the substances it makes is bile, which helps digest fats, oils and fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A. The bile the liver makes is either taken up by the small intestine or stored in the gallbladder.

The liver gets blood from the stomach and intestines through the portal vein, which then divides into capillaries. As blood passes through these capillaries, waste matter is removed from them. The liver also removes some of the sugar from the blood and converts it into glycogen, which is a form of starch. The cells of the liver then store the glycogen. When the body needs it, the glycogen is sent out as sugar.

The liver also stores vitamins, minerals and proteins. It not only stores vitamin A, but vitamin D and the B-complex vitamins. It holds vitamin B12, which is necessary to produce red blood cells and to prevent pernicious anemia. The liver also stores the red pigment of the blood, which is called hemoglobin.

The liver also makes blood proteins like fibrinogen, which is necessary in blood clotting. It also makes albumin and globulin. Albumin prevents edema and lowers the ability of the blood to leak through capillary walls. Globulin contains antibodies that help resist disease.