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Liver Facts and Functions

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In the United States, more than 25 million people have a liver related disease.

The liver is located on the right side of the body and is protected by the rib cage. Weighing in at about 3 pounds, it is the largest glandular organ and is a very important part of the digestive system. The liver has two large sections, the left and right lobes, and can contain up to 13% of the body’s blood at one time, which accounts for its reddish-brown coloring. A complex network of metabolic cells, blood vessels and capillaries help carry the blood in to and back out of the liver.

The liver plays a large role in maintaining overall health and wellness in the body. In fact, it performs over 100 unique tasks. Some of the main functions include: aiding in the absorption of nutrients and turning them into energy, producing cholesterol and amino acids and ridding the body of toxic substances and drugs. Many people do not realize that the liver is not only an organ but a gland as well, because it makes and secretes bile, a fluid which transports fats and waste to the intestine and helps during the digestive process.

The liver also makes proteins that regulate blood volume and help with blood clotting. It also processes or secretes environmental toxins and those created by the presence of drugs or alcohol in the body.

Blood flows to the liver via two large vessels, the hepatic artery, which carries oxygen rich blood away from the aorta, and the portal vein which carries blood with digested food to the small intestine. The gallbladder and the intestines are located right behind it, making transportation of bile from the gallbladder to the liver for digestive help easier.