The liver is one of the vital organs in the human body and performs variety of functions. In humans, it is located in the upper part of the abdomen (above the stomach and below the diaphragm). In an adult it typically weighs around 1.5 kg. It is a reddish-brown wedge-shaped organ & has four lobes (of unequal sizes). It receives a dual blood supply from the hepatic portal vein and hepatic arteries.
The liver performs a wide range of functions in the human body. Some of them are:
- Storing excess nutrients e.g. vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B12, vitamin K, iron, copper etc.
- Returning some of the stored nutrients in to the bloodstream
- Manufacturing bile, which in turns aids digestion
- Helping body store excess sugar/ glucose in form of glycogen.
- Helping body get rid of harmful substances like alcohol.
- Manufacturing blood proteins. This in turn helps in proper functioning of immune system, transport of oxygen and clotting.
- Breaking down saturated fat.
- Producing cholesterol.
The liver supports almost every organ in the body and is hence essential for survival. However, due to its role and location in the body, it is also prone to many diseases.
Another interesting thing about liver is its regenerative capability. Liver is the only human organ capable of natural regeneration of lost tissue. Even one-fourth of a liver can regenerate into a whole liver! This is one of the reasons why liver transplant can be done in affected persons even with a living donor!
Some of the common diseases involving liver are:
- Hepatitis A,B,C,D & E
- Cirrhosis of Liver
- Fatty Liver
- Liver cancer
Several liver diseases may be diagnosed by liver function tests–blood tests that can identify various markers.
How can you have a healthy liver.
- Healthy diet & regular exercise
- Avoid alcohol.
- Certain cholesterol drugs and pain-killers may be harmful to the liver.
- Avoid drinking contaminated water or food.
- Get yourself vaccinated against hepatitis. Take precautions to prevent Hepatitis B
Liver diseases, if they happen can sometimes be painful and may even lead to the point of no return ,hence, it is important to take care of your liver’s health. As the saying goes – “The liver can be a very forgiving organ, but it has its limits.”