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Facts About the Human Liver

Posted by Joanna Culley on

The fact that the liver is the second biggest organ in our body, only topped by the skin, definitely indicates it plays a crucial role in our entire bodily functions, and most of them could not be done by any other organ. In these lines, you will find out the very interesting features and roles that the liver plays in our metabolism and the way we process the food that turns into fuel. A regular human liver can weight around 3.1 pounds or 1.4 kg, and it can be found below the diaphragm, in the right upper abdomen. However, it is so big, that it takes most of the space under the ribs and in the left upper abdomen as well.

The liver divides itself into two large sections known as the left and right lobes.  At the same time, these lobes divide themselves into eight segments. Each one of the segments has roughly 1,000 small lobes or lobules with small ducts that lead towards the common hepatic duct. The amount of blood that the liver can carry is huge compared to the rest of the body. A regular human liver has around 13% of the entire blood flow at any given time during our lives.

Along with organs like the pancreas, the intestines, and the gallbladder, the liver absorbs, digests and processes food. Detoxifying chemicals and metabolizing drugs are also part of the roles of the liver, however, the main activity performed by this organ is to filter the blood coming from the digestive tract, before being transported to the rest of the body. The liver also creates essential proteins that allow our blood clot and many other functions.

The liver can grow back

Yes, the liver can completely regenerate itself with as little as only 25% of its tissue remaining when damaged or injured. In fact, when a person receives a liver transplant of only half of the organ, the liver itself can adjust and grow back to its original size in a span of only two weeks. This regenerative ability exists because the liver handles more than 500 functions, and it is both a gland and an organ.

Bile is a major part of the liver function

This greenish or yellowish liquid is located inside small ducts in the liver and is then carried all the way to the main bile duct and to the duodenum. It can also travel through the gallbladder. About 800 to 1,000 ml of bile is produced by the liver on a daily basis. People can even vomit their bile after certain medical complications or during heavy hangovers, however, this substance is key to the breakdown and absorption of fats.

The liver is your vitamin & minerals storage unit

Part of the liver’s many different functions is to gather vitamins and minerals that can be used and transported to other organs and muscles in order to break down and process fat. The main three vitamins the liver upholds are:

Vitamin A: it is essential to keep your eyes, mucous membranes and skin in good health. It also crucial during pregnancy, since it helps with cell differentiation, which means that it allows each cell to become specialized.

Vitamin E: it prevents cell damage and it also works as an antioxidant. 

Vitamin K: it plays a major role within the blood, because it makes it clot, and also helps bone health.

You might not notice when your liver gets sick

Many diseases suffered by the liver, especially during the early stages, can take months to finally show any symptoms at all. A healthy-looking person might be suffering from cirrhosis or some form of hepatitis and it might not be noticeable until it starts causing severe damage. 

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