The human liver is considered to be one of the most vital internal organs for human survival. It is responsible for various chemical reactions and performs well over 500 functions within the body. The liver is considered to be the largest internal organ as well as the largest gland.
The size of the human liver varies according to gender, age, and body size. A liver found in a male is bigger than that of a female. For example, a female’s liver may weigh 1.2kg whereas a male’s liver may weigh 1.5kg.
Functions of the Liver
Looking at the liver from the glandular aspect, this is where the functions of the organ occur. The most important function of the liver is to rid the body of harmful toxins. However, the liver is also responsible for the secretion of bile which aids the process of digestion. The organ processes all the nutrients we get from food consumption. The body stores these nutrients which are then converted into energy as and when the body needs it. The liver also has the capacity to store blood. In instances when there is a low blood volume, the stored blood within the liver saves the day.
The liver is responsible for the conversion of glucose to glycogen which aids in the prevention of hyperglycemia and low sugar levels. The hepatic secretion of the liver is very important as the secretion of bile, found in the gallbladder, stores and concentrates the bile.
Storage of Vitamins and Minerals
The liver controls the intake and storage of vitamins A, D, B12, Folic acid, and iron. When needed, the liver will provide these to aid the body. Iron is absorbed through the liver which helps the process of blood production. Copper is responsible for development and growth of various organs including the brain, heart, and bones.
Factors Leading to Liver Disease
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Recreational drug use
- Genetic diseases
- Unprotected sex resulting in hepatitis
Types of Liver Disease
- Jaundice – the golden yellow appearance of the skin as a result of the accumulation of bilirubin found in body fluids.
- Drug-induced Hepatotoxicity – the damaging effects of drugs on the liver.
- Alcoholic liver disease
- Cirrhosis – the end-stage liver disease caused by fibrosis
- Liver tumors – these can either be malignant tumors or cancerous.
There are many more different types of liver diseases that could develop due to the failure of the maintenance of the vital organ.
Acute and Chronic Liver Diseases
- Viral hepatitis
- Alcohol abuse
- Chronic hepatitis C and B
- Primary biliary cirrhosis
From the above information, you can see just how important the maintenance of the human liver is. Most of these types of liver diseases can be avoided by eating a healthy and balanced diet, regular exercise, drinking water daily, low alcohol consumption, and staying far away from recreational drug use!