FUNCTIONS OF THE LIVER

The liver performs a host of functions (well over 500) but the basic ones are:

Production of plasma proteins:

  • Factor 1 and 2: Clotting proteins that are responsible for ensuring that the blood can clot following injury
  • Plasma proteins namely the protein albumin which, amongst other things, keeps fluids within the blood vessels.

Storage of trace elements and vitamins:

  • Fats and fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K)
  • Iron
  • Glycogen, a product made by the liver as a method of storing energy that can be converted back at time of need to maintain the bloods sugar levels

Metabolism (breaking down) of substances:

  • Fats and fat soluble vitamins
  • Cholesterol
  • Proteins
  • Certain trace elements e.g. copper

Detoxification (rendering harmless):

  • Alcohol
  • Steroid and thyroid hormones
  • Drugs

Excretion (removal) of:

  • Copper and iron
  • Some drugs
  • Lactate (a substance produced by the body during metabolism)

Immunity

  • The liver cells contribute towards natural immunity by producing some antibodies. A special type of cell found in the liver called ‘Kupffer’ cells also help to clear unwanted substances from the body.