Difference between the Colon and the Large Intestine

Updated on July 8, 2017

The food that we eat sustains our body, giving us the energy we need to carry out our daily activities. Our digestive tract transforms the food into nutrients that can be absorbed and utilized by our system. It also prepares and weeds out the unneeded portions or waste material in our body. Found in the lower portion of the digestive tract are the colon and the large intestine. Read this article to know more about these parts and to understand the differences between them.

Descriptions

Colon
The colon

The colon is the biggest part of the large intestine. It has four segments, namely: the ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon, and the sigmoid colon. The main function of the colon is to absorb water and salt from the undigested food. There are also a lot of bacteria found in the colon that aid in the digestive process. These bacteria are said to produce certain vitamins that are absorbed by the colon. Such vitamins are: vitamin K, vitamin B12, thiamine, and riboflavin. It is also in the colon that certain nutrients are recycled such as the fermentation of carbohydrates as well as short chain fatty acids. The colon does not have any nerve receptors but has a rich supply of smooth muscles that propel the food substances along the gastrointestinal tract. Waste material is stored in the colon before it is eliminated by the body.

large intestine
The large intestine

The large intestine is at the end portion of the digestive tract. It has four major parts which are: the cecum, colon, rectum, and the anal canal. The main function of the large intestine is to absorb water and any other remaining nutrients or vitamins that could still be absorbed from food. Other functions of the large intestine include: reducing acidity, protecting the body from microbial infections, and producing antibodies. It is also in the large intestine where digested food is stored and removed through defecation. There are nerve receptors found in the large intestine, specifically in the rectum, that aid in the defecation reflex. Lastly, the anal sphincter is aided with skeletal muscles to ensure smooth bowel movement.

Colon vs Large Intestine

What is the difference between the colon and the large intestine? The colon is the biggest part of the large intestine while the large intestine is the end part of the entire digestive tract. There are four segments in the colon whereas the large intestine has four major parts, one of which is the colon. Absorbing water and salt is the main function of the colon. The large intestine, on the other hand, performs a lot of functions. Nerve receptors are not present in the colon but they are needed in the rectum part of the large intestine for defecation. The colon has a rich supply of smooth muscles. For the large intestine, there are also skeletal muscles specifically in the anal sphincter to aid in the defecation process.

Comparison Chart

Colon Large Intestine
Biggest part of the large intestineEnd of the digestive tract
Has four segmentsHas four major parts, including the colon
Mainly absorbs water and salt from foodPerforms many functions
Does not have any nerve receptorsThe rectum has nerve receptors needed for defecation
Has a rich supply of smooth musclesAnal sphincter is aided with skeletal muscles