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What the Liver Does - Topic Overview

A healthy liver does the following:

  • It regulates the composition of blood, including the amounts of sugar (glucose), protein, and fat that enter the bloodstream.
  • It removes bilirubin, ammonia, and other toxins from the blood. (Bilirubin is a by-product of the breakdown of hemoglobin from red blood cells.)
  • It processes most of the nutrients absorbed by the intestines during digestion and converts 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.
  • It produces cholesterol and certain important proteins, such as albumin.
  • It produces clotting factors, chemicals needed to help blood clot.
  • It breaks down (metabolizes) alcohol and many drugs.

See a picture of the liver and the other organs of the digestive system camera.gif.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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