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What the Liver Does

Topic Overview

A healthy liver does the following:

  • It regulates the composition of blood, including the amounts of sugar (glucose), protein, and fat that enter the bloodstream.
  • It removes bilirubin, ammonia, and other toxins from the blood. (Bilirubin is a by-product of the breakdown of hemoglobin from red blood cells.)
  • It processes most of the nutrients absorbed by the intestines during digestion and converts those nutrients into forms that can be used by the body. The liver also stores some nutrients, such as vitamin A, iron, and other minerals.
  • It produces cholesterol and certain important proteins, such as albumin.
  • It produces clotting factors, chemicals needed to help blood clot.
  • It breaks down (metabolizes) alcohol and many drugs.

See a picture of the liver and the other organs of the digestive system.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
W. Thomas London, MD - Hepatology
Last Revised January 17, 2012

Last Revised: January 17, 2012

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