Just as you cannot live without your heart or brain, you cannot live without your liver. Your liver performs many functions that are vital to survival. It transforms food into usable body chemicals. It filters waste, bacteria, and poisons from your blood. The liver stores vitamins and sugars that your body uses for energy. The liver is a wedge-shaped organ located underneath the rib cage. Weighing close to 3 pounds, the liver is the body’s largest internal organ. It has four main functions in the body: purification, synthesis, storage, and transformation.
Purification.Your liver changes toxic substances, including alcohol, into harmless substances. Did you know that, even in healthy people, the liver processes alcohol as a poison? While inactivation of substances like alcohol and nicotine is good for the body as a whole, liver cells can be damaged in the process. Detoxification of alcohol, for example, can lead to cirrhosis. Your liver also changes certain medicines into a form your body can use, and inactivates other medicines after they’ve worked.
Synthesis. Your liver takes simple chemical building blocks and combines them to manufacture (synthesize) more complex substances. For example, the liver manufactures most of the proteins found in the blood, as well as those needed to clot blood, make new cells, and cause chemical reactions inside of cells.
Storage. The liver is a warehouse for your body. Besides storing minerals and vitamins, the liver stores sugars that your body uses for energy. Your liver releases these sugars into the bloodstream between meals when other parts of your body, like muscles or the brain, need more energy.