Understanding Your Liver Profile Part 1 of 3

The liver profile is a  standard set of blood tests because the liver does do much for us.  The numbers in this set of blood test results give so much information on the metabolic functions of the body as a basic screening test.  For example, the liver synthesizes glycogen from excess glucose in the blood, it stores fat-soluble vitamins such as D and A, as well the chemical elements iron and copper, and produces bile and forms certain amino acids from the proteins we ingest.  Very importantly, it detoxifies the body and removes waste, filter the blood several times a day and breaks down substances such as environmental chemicals, hormones, alcohols, and drugs for elimination.  The process of detoxification can create reactive chemicals known as free radicals that is harmful to the liver itself.  This is why a program of detoxification is best supervised by a physician trained in monitoring and understanding how to monitor and adjust this process.

Total Protein:  Target range: 7.2 to 7.5 grams/deciliter (g/dL), total protein will be high when albumin or globulin production is elevated due to any number of reasons.  While a temporary high protein count may point to acute infection, consistently high total protein levels can such problems that need further investigation by your physician.

Albumin:  Target range: 4.0 to 4.5 g/dL.  using amino acids from our foods, the liver makes about 9 to 12 grams of albumin per day.  Albumin helps keep the fluid part of the blood contained within the blood vessels, binds to key substances including hormones ( like thyroid and sex hormones), free fatty acids, and bilirubin.  Albumin is also know to scavenge free radicals.

Globulin:  Target range: 2.8 to 3.2 g/dL, categorized into three main groups: alpha, beta and gamma globulins. The gamma globulins are also know as antibodies produced by the immune system.

Bilirubin:  Target range: total 0.2 to 1.4, direct 0.0 to 0.4 mg/dL.  When aging red blood cells are broken down in the spleen, the normal byproduct is a orange-yellow pigment called bilirubin.The liver processes bilirubin and releases it into bile that is stored in the gallbladder or directly dumped into the intestines for elimination with the stool.  If the liver is damaged or diseased it will not be able to process bilirubin as usual, causing the fluid to accumulate in the blood. This will cause your physician to sit up and take notice and do further investigation as to the cause.

Next post will explore the liver enzymes and finally, the 3rd segment, the cholesterol profile.

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