Liver – Its role in regulating iron

February 2, 2023

The liver is a vital organ in the human body that plays a crucial role in processing iron. Iron is essential for various physiological processes such as oxygen transport, energy production, and cell growth and differentiation. The liver is responsible for regulating the levels of iron in the body. It therefore helps to ensure that the body has enough iron to carry out these processes.

When iron is absorbed from the gut, it is transported to the liver where it is stored as ferritin. Ferritin is a protein that helps to keep iron in a soluble form. It then releases iron into circulation when the body needs it. This process is regulated by the body’s iron-regulating hormone, hepcidin, which is produced locally. When there is an excess of iron in the body, hepcidin production increases. The liver ends up retaining more iron and releasing less into circulation. Conversely, when there is a shortage of iron, hepcidin production decreases, which allows more iron to be released into circulation.

The liver also plays a role in the metabolism of haemoglobin, which is the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen. When red blood cells are damaged or worn out, they are broken down in the liver, and the iron from haemoglobin is released and stored as ferritin. This process helps to maintain the body’s iron balance and ensure that there is enough iron available for the formation of new red blood cells.

In addition to regulating iron levels and processing haemoglobin, the liver also plays a role in the metabolism of other proteins that contain iron. For example, the liver is involved in the breakdown of myoglobin, a protein in muscle tissue that stores oxygen. The liver also metabolizes transferrin, which is a protein that transports iron in the blood.

Toxins are harmful substances that prevent your body in playing its role in iron regulation. Drugs, alcohol and certain chemicals interfere with the body’s ability to process iron. You could develop anaemia or other health problems. Maintain a healthy liver is vital to your health. Iron is essential to transport oxygen in your body. You cannot breathe without it.

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