How are the cells lining the small intestine adapted to their function?

The purpose of the small intestine is to absorb nutrients from the food we eat. In order to achieve this the cells of the small intestine have adaptations to increase their ability to absorb.

The cells that make up the lining of the small intestine have villi on their surface. These look a bit like fingers on our hands and basically increase the surface area of the cells. Increasing the surface area of the cell means that nutrients passing through the intestine are more likely to come into contact with the cell and be absorbed, compared to a small circular cell. Think of it like fishing, the bigger the area or size of the fishing net, the more fish (and in this case nutrients) you're going to catch!

On top of this, the villi have microvilli on them, almost like tiny fingers on the fingers! These work to further increase the surface area in the same way the villi do, and increase the intestinal cells ability to absorb nutrients.

Answered by Abigail S. Human Biology tutor


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