Some science behind the scenes
Liver and its functions, The
The liver has a number of very well defined functions in the body;
- It stores minerals including iron and vitamins A, D and B1
- It destroys worn out red blood cells
- It manufactures plasma proteins and blood clotting agents
- It detoxifies poisons using enzymes which break the chemicals down into less harmful products [and products which can be expelled via the faeces or urine]. Catalase for example does just this
- It has a major role in metabolism regulating blood sugar levels – glucose may be removed from the blood and stored as glycagon or the glucose may be stored as fat or the glucose may be released into the blood stream for use as fuel – glycogen is then converted to glucose.
- It processes fatty acids and regulates the amount of phospholipids and cholesterol, excesses are eliminated in bile and the liver produces bile.
- It is involved in nitrogenous excretion. The body cannot store excess proteins or amino acids, so the excess has to be eliminated. The non-nitrogenous parts are converted to fats and carbohydrates that can be used or stored. The nitrogenous parts are converted via a series of enzyme controlled processes to urea [which needs carbon dioxide], which is then excreted via the kidneys into the urine.
Any form of damage to the liver thus has the potential to disrupt these processes leading to:
- A lack of needed mineral including iron and vitamins A, D and B12
- Blood which contains high levels of worn out red blood cells
- A tendency to bruise easily and not to be able to form clots
- Poisons in the blood stream which may cross the blood brain barrier
- Disrupted blood sugar levels
- Disrupted levels of phospholipids and cholesterol
- Nitrogenous compounds in the blood