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Urine

The liquid which leaves your body through the urethra. It contains water, salts urea and other chemicals.

Urea

The poisonous waste compound produced when excess amino acids are broken down in your liver

Protein

A polymer made up of amino acids joined by peptide bonds. The amino acids present and the order in which they occur vary from one protein to another.

Mineral

Chemical needed in very small amounts as part of a balanced diet to keep the body healthy

Kidney

Reddish brown organs which get rid of waste urea from the body and balance the water and mineral ion concentration of the blood

Ions

Charge particles formed when an atom loses or gains electrons during the formation of ionic bonds

Homeostasis

The maintenance of a constant internal environment in the body

Glucose

A type of sugar: a mono saccharide with 6 carbon atoms (a hexose sugar).

Glossary

A list of often difficult or specialised words with their definitions.

Concentration

The amount of a substance (solute) in a solution

Cells

The basic unit from which all living organisms are built up, consisting of a cell membrane surrounding cytoplasm and a nucleus.

What do the kidneys do?

Humans have two kidneys. They are complex organs that are vital for life. The kidneys produce urine which is made up of waste products, excess mineral ions and excess water from the body.

The main job of your kidneys is to regulate the amount of water in the body and balance the concentration of mineral ions in the blood. They also get rid of waste products, especially a nitrogen-containing compound called urea. At the same time they hold on to useful substances such as glucose and protein so none is lost from the body.

Your body is made up of millions of cells. For them to work properly, the conditions inside your body need to be as constant as possible. However everything you do tends to change your internal conditions. You take millions of new molecules into your body when you eat and digest food, you release heat energy every time you move about, the amount of water you take into and lose from your body varies all the time and your cells are constantly producing poisonous waste.

Homeostasis describes the functions of your body which work to keep your internal environment constant within a very narrow range. One of your most important organs of homeostasis is the kidney.

How to use this site

There are a number of interactive features in this e-source:

  • A glossary of terms: any word with a glossary entry is highlighted like this.
  • Quick questions: at the end of most pages or sections there is a question or set of quick questions to test your understanding.
  • Animations: most of the animations can be expanded to full screen size, ideal for showing on an interactive whiteboard. The animations will play all the way through or can be viewed one section at a time.
  • Downloads: Teachers can download individual diagrams, animations and other content from the Download Library area of the website. Terms and Conditions apply.