The Pharmacist Answers Podcast

Have a question for the pharmacist? Get your answers here! Clear explanations about complicated medical topics that anyone can understand. Disclaimer: The information contained in this blog and related podcast are not to be taken as medical advice, they are for informational and educational purposes only. If you resemble anything that is mentioned in this blog or related podcast, contact your doctor. The information contained in this blog and related podcasts is the opinion of the author and does not relfect the views of her employer, Walgreens. If you want to know what Walgreens thinks, ask Walgreens!
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Now displaying: September, 2015
Sep 28, 2015


Digestion - bile breaks down fat to be absorbed by intestines

Metabolism - breaking down food into useful pieces


Your liver helps you store those energy sources until you need them - like times when you’re not eating.

Your body does a lot of processes for you while you’re sleeping.


Glucose is a main source of energy for your body.

Insulin tells your cells to let glucose in the door so it can be used immediately.  It also tells the liver to put extra glucose in long chains called Glycogen to store for future use.


Another energy source is fat or fatty acids.  When the liver doesn’t have enough space for fat, it sends it to other areas of the body.

Certain vitamins (A, D, E, K) like to hang out in fat more than water, so it goes with the fat wherever it goes.


The liver stores Vitamin B12.  B12 is usually promoted for energy boosting.  A vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to a certain type of anemia (pernicious anemia). This means not enough red blood cells are being made, thus not enough oxygen is being delivered to all the parts of your body.  Therefore your body doesn’t have the resources to utilize and create energy.  End result: you feel tired.


Iron and copper are also stored by your liver until you need them.  Low iron is another culprit of anemia.

Interesting fact:  This is why liver tastes more metallic than other red meats.


Sep 21, 2015

Liver - have one. 


Lobule - yep! 


Recap: Liver makes bile, helps digest fat in the intestines. Gallbladder? Holds bile until your intestines need bile. 


3 main energy sources:  Carbohydrates, Fats, Proteins 


Inestines absorb them into the blood and send them to the liver. 


Metabolism = change 


Metabolism happens for 2 reasons: 

1. To make something useful 

2. To make something safe 


What’s water got to do with it? 

- Your blood is made of water 

- Liver preforms hydrolysis on carbohydrates (using water to dissolve it into tiny bits of sugar = glucose) 


Glucose is the main form of sugar that your body uses for energy. 


The liver breaks down the fatty acids to make cholesterol (which is not always bad). Cholesterol is used in your cells walls to keep them fluid and slippery.  Cholesterol is also used to make bile (think “like dissolves like”).  If there’s any extra fatty acids the liver performs gluconeogenesis (gluco = glucose, neo = new, genesis = creation). It basically creating glucose out of anything that contains Carbon. 


This is why fats are bad for Type 2 Diabetics as well as sugar. 


Sugars are the easiest to turn into energy so that gets used first.  So low carb diets force the body to go after fats, which are the next easiest.  If you’re eating low fat as well, then the body will burn the fat deposits on the body.  Weight loss! 


Protein is the hardest, but can still provide energy.  Proteins are made up of amino acids.  Amino = Nitrogen, acid = carbon.  The nitrogen is relatively useless, so the liver turns it into urea, that gets sent out and filtered by the kidneys.  The part with the carbon can be turned into glucose (gluconeogenesis again). 


One of the intermediate steps of the urea production is ammonia.  There is actually a blood test that can be done to test the ammonia-urea balance.  And if this is out of balance, it indicates a problem.  The BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen).  One thing this indicates is that your body is metabolizing your own muscles.  This can be a sign of starvation or other nutritional imbalance.  You need your muscles, you don’t want to metabolize your muscles. 


Your body generally needs fully intact amino acids to build, rebuild, and heal muscles.  Proteins and amino acids have a life span, so your body is constantly rebuilding and replacing with fresh supply.  Athletes require higher protein diets than most because of this process. 


Glucose and fats aren’t inherently bad, it’s more about the amounts of each that get consumed and float around your body. 


Your liver can be very efficient and metabolizing the foods you eat. 



Your body gets fat deposits because the body is saturated with enough fatty acids that it needs, so any extra gets packed up and shipped around the body to be stored until later. 

Sep 14, 2015

Liver shaped like a triangle - check!


Lobule, hepatocytes, vessels - check!  Hundreds of thousands - got it!  



Hepatocytes make bile. 

It’s colors green due to red blood cell waste (bilirubin). 

Bile consists of water, salt, cholesterol, bilirubin. 


Bile moves from hepatocytes in liver to the gallbladder. 

When you eat fats, the intestines triggers the gallbladder to send bile to help digest fat. 


The fats are used in the energy-making process. 


Bilirubin makes bile green.  It also makes the skin yellow in jaundice.  Makes poop brown. 

For babies, it’s because baby hangs on to extra red blood cells from mommy after birth, and the liver has to learn what to do with all of them after they die (RBC’s only liver 120 days!).  For adults with hepatitis, it’s because their liver is damaged and can’t work as efficiently as it used to.  If your poop is the wrong color, it can indicate there is a major liver problem. 


If you are gallbladderless, there is no where for the bile to be stored.  So, it gets send to the intestines continuously.  Also, if you have a meal heavy in fats, the intestines will just dump the food it can’t process faster towards the exit. 



High levels of bilirubin in infants can lead to cerebral palsy.  If the liver can’t handle all the bilirubin in a timely manner, the only other way to get it to breakdown is UV light. 

Sep 7, 2015

Your liver is shaped like a lumpy triangle.  


The liver is part of the digestive system, so having it close to the organs that carry your food means that blood doesn’t have to travel very far to get things to and from your liver. 


During a physical exam, your doctor finds the location and size of your liver by percussing (aka tapping on it - just like a percussion instrument). 


Ignore the big words -


Hepatocytes (liver cells) build together in Lobules.  Lobules build together in Lobes. 



6 Functions of your liver: 

1. Digestion 

2. Metabolism 

3. Storage 

4. Detoxification 

5. Production 


6. Immunity