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Our Body’s Anatomical Cleaner & Detoxifier

The liver and its crucial functions


The liver is one of the most important organs in the human body, performing over 500 essential functions.

It works tirelessly behind the scenes to filter toxins, metabolize nutrients, produce bile, and protect against infection.

Despite its vital roles, the liver rarely causes pain or symptoms when damaged, which is both helpful and dangerous.

Taking steps to care for liver health is critical, as many lifestyle factors like diet, exercise, and alcohol intake can impact its function.


What is the Liver?

The liver is a large, reddish-brown vital organ located in the upper right portion of the abdomen.

Weighing around 3 pounds (1.36 kg) in adults, the liver is the heaviest solid organ in the body.

  • The liver is made up of 2 primary lobes, which are further divided into smaller segments
  • It receives blood supply from the hepatic artery and portal vein
  • The average liver is roughly 6 inches (ca. 15 cm) across, 4.5 inches (ca. 11 cm) top to bottom, and 3 inches (ca. 8 cm) thick

Main Functions of the Liver

The liver serves over 500 essential functions to keep the body healthy and energized, for example:

  • Digestion — it produces bile to break down fats and absorb nutrients
  • Metabolism — it processes carbohydrates, proteins, fats; stores vitamins and minerals
  • Detoxification — it filters toxins, drugs, and alcohol from blood
  • Immune function — it produces immune factors to fight infections
  • Blood clotting — it makes proteins that enable blood clotting
  • Storage — it stores vitamins, minerals, iron, and energy sources
  • Regulation — it regulates essential compounds like cholesterol, blood sugar, hormones, proteins

and many more.


Caring for Your Liver Health

The liver has amazing regenerative capabilities, but taking proactive steps to maintain liver health is vital.

Diet

  • Eat plenty of vegetables (and fruits) — High in antioxidants to protect the liver, be aware of too much fructose, though, as this form of sugar puts a strain on the liver as well
  • Choose whole grains over refined grains — Provides fiber to improve cholesterol and fat levels
  • Limit saturated/unhealthy fats — Can contribute to fatty liver disease
  • Avoid processed foods — Often high in fat, salt, and sugar which strain the liver
  • Limit alcohol — Leading cause of liver damage; moderation is key

Lifestyle

  • Exercise regularly — Helps maintain a healthy weight to avoid fat accumulation
  • Maintain healthy weight — Obesity leads to a greater risk of fatty liver disease
  • Avoid exposures — Reduce contact with toxins, chemicals, pollutants
  • Manage conditions — Control diabetes and cholesterol to avoid liver strain

Supplements

  • Milk thistle — Herbal supplement shown to benefit liver health [1]
  • Vitamin E — Potent antioxidant that may help treat nonalcoholic fatty liver disease [2]
  • B-complex vitamins — Essential for energy metabolism and enzyme reactions
  • Glutathione — Liver-supporting antioxidant

See Your Doctor

Liver checkups are rather rare.

Blood samples can give some information about liver function and issues.

In general, though, it’s crucial to watch out for potential symptoms of liver dysfunction or disease, like:

  • Yellowing skin or eyes (jaundice)
  • Itchy skin
  • Abdominal pain, swelling, nausea
  • Dark urine color
  • Pale stool color
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Loss of appetite

Protecting a Vital Organ

The liver plays a vital yet silent role in maintaining our health and well-being.

As one of the largest internal organs, the liver carries out over 500 essential tasks to keep the body functioning optimally.

It filters toxins, produces bile for digestion, regulates nutrients, and supports immunity without most of us realizing the complexity of its work.

Since the liver rarely exhibits overt symptoms, it’s easily overlooked.

However, supporting liver health should be a priority. Even small lifestyle adjustments to benefit liver function can help keep this organ in top working condition.

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