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Anatomy of the Liver

Clip Number: 2 of 5
Presentation: Hepatitis
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Reviewed By: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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Your liver is an organ that sits just under the ribcage, mostly on the right side. By looking at it under a microscope, you can see that the liver is actually made up of billions of liver cells.
These liver cells perform many important functions like filtering waste and poisons, processing nutrients, and storing fuel for your body.
First, the cells filter waste, bacteria, and poisons out of your blood and change these toxic substances into safer substances.
The liver also helps change certain medicines into forms that your body can use. It then gets rid of the medicines when they are done working.
Processing nutrients is another important function of the liver. Most of the food you eat is eventually processed through your liver before your body can use it. After you eat, your food is broken down into small particles called proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Your blood carries these building blocks to the liver where they are used to make and store many of the nutrients your body needs.
For example, proteins are broken down into smaller amino acids, which the liver then combines into new proteins. There are many kinds of proteins, each with a specific size, shape, and purpose.
Your liver also stores fuel for your body such as vitamins, carbohydrates and minerals. It also makes cholesterol and bile which is a substance that dissolves fat. On a regular basis, your liver sends proteins, fats and cholesterol along with vitamins into your bloodstream to be used for energy and building healthy tissue.
Because the liver does so many important things for your body, you can't live without one.

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