How the Liver Works: Essential Functions Explained
Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson’s Highlights
The liver is the second largest organ in your body, with over 300 important functions.
Certain lifestyle habits and conditions can compromise your liver health.
Taking a supplement like fatty15 can help support your liver health and the health of your entire body.
If your healthcare provider told you that your blood panel showed your liver enzymes were higher than they should be, it could leave you confused about the implications of your liver health and what changes you need to make.
Keeping your liver healthy is vital to maintaining your overall wellness and even increasing your longevity. We’ll discuss how the liver works, discuss its functions, and give you some solutions for keeping your liver healthy.
We’ll also cover risk factors for developing liver problems so you can steer clear of those hepatic pitfalls.
What Is the Liver?
The liver is the second largest organ of your body. The skin, of course, is the first. The liver is a reddish-brown organ located in the upper right portion of your abdominal cavity. This organ has four sections, referred to as lobes.
Each lobe of the liver is made up of tiny, hexagonally-shaped structures called lobules. These lobules are made of hepatocytes, which are liver cells. Tiny blood vessels called sinusoids between these rows of cells supply the liver cells with oxygen and blood.
The liver works directly with the gallbladder and small intestine. It receives its blood supply through two main arteries: the hepatic artery, which supplies oxygen-rich blood to the liver from the heart, and the hepatic portal vein, which brings nutrient-rich blood from the small intestines.
A structure called the hepatic duct carries bile produced from the liver to the gallbladder. Two bile ducts feed into the hepatic duct from the two largest lobes of the liver.
Functions of the Liver
The liver performs over 300 bodily functions, too many to fit in one article. However, we’ll focus on the most important ones.
1. Producing Albumin
Albumin is a protein that is important for bodily function. Specifically, it helps keep the fluids in the bloodstream in your veins instead of leaking into surrounding tissues.
It also works as a courier, transporting hormones, nutrients, and enzymes to parts of your body that need them. The liver producesalbumin. Your doctor checks your albumin levels when you have a blood panel, but it can also be checked through a urine sample.
Your liver is your body’s filtration station. All the blood in your body passes through the liver to be filtered and cleaned. The liver’s job is to remove harmful substances and filter out drugs and other toxins the body no longer needs.
3. Glucose Regulation
When your blood sugar levels rise, the pancreas produces insulin. Insulin carries the glucose from your blood to the cells that need it for energy. Excess glucose that is not needed is stored in the liver as glycogen.
Glycogen can be converted back to glucose and sent back into the bloodstream to be sent to cells for energy at a later time.
4. Removal of Bilirubin
Red blood cells release bilirubin when they reach apoptosis (their timed cellular death). This byproduct of cellular degradation is processed by the liver, where it is added to bile and later sent out of the body through the intestines.
Bilirubin has a yellowish tint, so when liver function declines, a person might develop jaundice (a condition where the whites of the eyes and the skin appear yellow).
5. Production of Bile
Speaking of bile, it’s really important. Bile is a fluid that helps break down fats. Bile is also important for removing waste products from the body.
The toxins, drugs, and bilirubin that need removal from the body get added to bile and sent through the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine) and the gallbladder through the common bile duct.
6. Helps With Blood Clotting
For your blood to properly clot, you need vitamin K. Vitamin K can only be absorbed when bile is present. Without your liver, your blood wouldn’t clot properly.
7. Creates Proteins for Blood Plasma
The liver produces two proteins that are essential for your blood plasma. Albumin, which we already discussed, and globulin. These proteins are essential for liver function, fighting infections, and giving the blood its clotting factors.
8. Iron Storage
As blood flows through the liver, hemoglobin is processed, and iron is removed and stored in the liver. The liver also stores other vital nutrients and vitamins.
9. Supporting Immunity
The immune system and the liver work together to keep you well. The liver removes bacteria from the bloodstream that could make you sick.
10. Regulation of Amino Acids
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. The liver regulates the levels of amino acids in the blood to ensure there are available amino acids for making protein.
These are just 10 of the hundreds of functions researchers have identified with the liver. Understanding why it’s so important can help us better understand why focusing on maintaining our liver health is vital. You can do that by reducing certain risk factors for developing liver disease.
Risk Factors for Liver Disease
You may have a higher chance of developing liver disease if you have one of the following conditions or lifestyle habits.
- Metabolic disease. Having high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and/or being overweight or obese can increase your risk of developing liver diseases like nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD.
- Alcohol misuse. Alcohol damages the liver. Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to scarring and irreversible damage to the liver. This condition is called cirrhosis.
- Not receiving a hepatitisvaccination.Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C are infections that can damage the liver. They may be spread through blood, bodily fluids, and contaminated water and food.
A healthy liver is possible, even if you’ve been given some not-so-great news about yours. The liver can restore itself and even regrow itself when a portion of it has been removed. That doesn’t mean it’s indestructible. Some damage is irreversible.
Keeping your liver healthy requires a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding toxic substances that could harm your liver. It can also involve taking a supplement that helps support your liver on a cellular level.
C15:0 and Your Liver
The foundation of our health is in our cells. Protecting and caring for your cells is essential for staying healthy. In addition to a healthy lifestyle, a research-backed supplement can help support your cells and help them function properly.
What Is C15:0?
C15:0 (aka pentadecanoic acid) is an essential, odd-chain, saturated fatty acid that supports cells by reversing cellular aging. Cellular aging is a process through which our cells become sluggish and lose their shape and, inevitably, their function.
C15:0 restores cellular shape, strength, and energy through several important mechanisms.
- Stronger cellular membranes. The membranes of your cells become flimsy and weak with age. Not only do your cells need membranes for protection, but they also need them to maintain their shape and function. C15:0 is a sturdy fatty acid that integrates into cell membranes and protects against age-related weakness and breakdown. In studies, C15:0 strengthened cell membranes by 80%.
- Clearing away damaged cells. Cells that hang around once they no longer function create an inflammatory environment that can be toxic. By activating AMPK, C15:0 helps clear damaged cells and restore a healthy environment.
- Regulating inflammatory response. Proinflammatory cytokines are key drivers in the aging process, and C15:0 helps calm and lower the levels of these molecules in your body.
- Repairing mitochondrial dysfunction. The mitochondria in our cells naturally decline with age, producing less energy for cellular function. Simultaneously, they produce more reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are unhealthy for cells. C15:0 helps reduce the amount of ROS produced by mitochondria by 45% and increases cellular ATP (energy) levels by 350% in peer-reviewed studies.
- Activating AMPK. AMPK is essential for proper glucose uptake and for supporting our immunity. By activating AMPK, C15:0 helps restore balance to these functions.
- Activating PPARɑ and PPARẟ receptors. By activating these receptors, C15:0 helps support metabolic, immune, heart, and liver health in relevant models. These receptors also help to improve mood and deepen sleep.
C15:0 can help keep your cells functioning healthfully, translating into more support for your liver and every other organ in your body.
Where To Find C15:0
C15:0 is found primarily in whole-fat dairy products like whole milk and full-fat butter. Due to dietary guidelines released in the 1970s, most people don’t consume a lot of these products.
That’s both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s bad because we’re missing out on C15:0, but it’s good because consuming more of these foods would mean consuming excess calories and unhealthy even-chained fats.
A solution? Fatty15.
A C15:0 Supplement
Taking a fatty15, the pure, bioavailable, sustainably-produced, vegan-friendly, and award winning C15:0 supplement can help protect our liver and our overall health.
Fatty15 is made ready to absorb. In milk (and other foods), C15:0 is attached to branches of lipids called triacylglycerides, aka triglycerides. That means our gut has to use digestive enzymes to break down these triacylglycerides to release C15:0 as a free fatty acid. Once C15:0 is released, it is ready to be absorbed.
These multiple steps can make our absorption of C15:0 from foods less efficient. In contrast, FA15™, the pure, vegan-friendly ingredient in fatty15, is already in free fatty acid form. Less work for the gut, more good C15:0 for our bodies.
Second, fatty15 is pure C15:0 and isn’t mixed with bad saturated fats. While the good C15:0 fatty acid is present in whole-fat dairy products in trace levels, there are much higher levels of “bad” even-chain saturated fatty acids that continue to be associated with poorer health.
That is why studies evaluating the effects of milk on our health are mixed (some say dairy fat is bad for us, while others say it is good for us). Fatty15 provides just the good fat without the bad fats.
Third, fatty15 has no animal products. If you’re vegan or don’t like the thought of using animals in the context of food or drugs, you can still get the C15:0 you need without any cows.
A desire for more animal-free products drives the movement to more plant-based milk and meat replacements. Interestingly, plant-based milk replacements lack C15:0 altogether. Fatty15 offers a vegan-friendly C15:0, with only one calorie per dose.
Keeping the cows happy and your waistline trim is easy when you take fatty15, the first and only C15:0 supplement that was born from scientific research, and science supports that it can improve your cellular health and the health of your liver.
Liven Up Your Liver Health
If you’re concerned about your liver, take action. Make necessary lifestyle adjustments and talk to your healthcare provider to determine what steps to take to ensure your liver lasts a long time.
While you’re ramping up your longevity routine, give your cells the boost they need to live longer, healthier lives. Fatty15 is the solution for biohacking your cellular health and the health of your liver.
Broader and safer clinically-relevant activities of pentadecanoic acid compared to omega-3: Evaluation of an emerging essential fatty acid across twelve primary human cell-based disease systems | PLOS ONE
Eric Venn-Watson M.D.
Senior Scientist, Co-Founder
Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.
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