Hepatitis C: Disease course and symptoms

What function does the liver have in the body?

No organ in our body has so many functions as the liver. No life is possible without the liver. It is involved in all the body’s vital processes. It converts nutrients, vitamins and minerals into a form that the body can use. It removes potentially harmful by-products of our bodily processes, and keeps blood sugar and hormone levels in balance.

Central functions of the liver

  • The liver converts nutrients from the blood so that the body can store them.
  • Bile, which is formed in the liver, is essential for the digestion of lipids (fats).
  • The liver detoxifies the body. Toxins and the waste products of the body’s metabolic processes are transformed into non-toxic substances, which can then be excreted via the kidneys or intestines.
  • Important nutrients are stored in the liver (sugar, lipids, vitamins) and are released to the body’s organs and cells, as required.
  • The liver controls the level of hormones in the blood. The blood sugar level is also regulated by the liver.

This information was originally adapted from Hepatitis C: Understanding a silent killer, published by the European Liver Patients Association. It was updated in 2016.