The liver is a large organ in the right upper part of the abdomen. It performs a range of complex and important functions that affect all body systems.

Some of the specific functions of the liver include:

  • Controlling the amounts of sugar (glucose), protein, and fat entering the bloodstream.
  • Removing bilirubin, ammonia, and other toxins from the blood. (Bilirubin is a by-product of the breakdown of hemoglobin from red blood cells.)
  • Processing most of the nutrients absorbed by the intestines during digestion and converting those nutrients into forms that can be used by the body. The liver also stores some nutrients, such as vitamin A, iron, and other minerals.
  • Producing cholesterol, substances that help blood clot, bile, and certain important proteins, such as albumin.
  • Breaking down (metabolizing) alcohol and many drugs.

Current as of: November 14, 2014

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & W. Thomas London, MD - Hepatology