What are the main functions of the liver?

The main functions of the liver include the following:

  • Make proteins. The liver is made up of millions of cells that do lots of important things, like make proteins. These proteins have important jobs like helping blood to clot and stop bleeding.
  • Release glucose. Liver cells release glucose into the bloodstream for the body to use as energy.
  • Make a liquid called bile. Bile helps the gut to absorb fat from food. It also helps the body get rid of the waste product bilirubin.
  • Help the body get rid of germs and waste products, as well as drugs and alcohol.

Located in the right side of the abdomen just below the diaphragm, the liver is the largest solid organ in the body. The liver is composed of two sections called "lobes." An average adult liver weighs between two and three pounds. The liver has many functions, controlling storage and concentration of nutrients such as proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, making proteins and clotting factors, and producing bile, a digestive compound. The liver also regulates the disposal of waste products and processes and filters poisons, toxins, medications, and bacteria from the blood. It is one of the few organs in the body capable of regeneration. A liver reduced to 1/4 of its size can fully regenerate itself.

The main functions of the liver include processing what a person eats and drinks into energy and nutrients the body can use. The liver also removes harmful substances from the blood.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Pink and brown and shaped like a boomerang, the liver is the second largest organ in the body (the skin always steals this glory). It's located just below the right rib cage in the upper right side of the abdomen above the pancreas and the small intestine.

Your liver does three main things: helps digest stuff, make proteins, and gets rid of bad stuff. The reason why it's so vital is that it serves as your body's border inspection station.

We all may know that skim milk is good for your bones, fish is good for muscles, and olive oil is good for your heart. But everything we eat and drink has to be broken down into different chemicals before they can actually get to work on helping (or in the case of some foods and drinks, harming) your body. That's one of the primary jobs of the liver.

Virtually every nutrient we consume, whether it has a valid passport or not, must pass through the liver so it can be transformed into a different biochemical form. That transformation is what allows the nutrient to be used, transported to a different location in the body, or stored as an extra inch of blubbery goop on your thighs.

The various functions of the liver are carried out by the liver cells, called hepatocytes.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.