When we deal with teenagers we say that they have revolutionized hormones. For women, premenstrual syndrome can make them spend a few days tense or down, and the fault lies with hormones. Men sometimes also attribute to a hormone (testosterone) their impulses or attitudes.
What exactly are the hormones, which so often lead us? We will explain everything you need to know about them, in addition to telling you which are the most important of your body and why.
What are hormones?
Hormones are substances that secrete certain specialized cells of our body. Although the most important are those that are located in the so-called endocrine glands, almost all organs produce hormones in the human body.
By its function, hormones are included within the group of chemical messengers, along with pheromones and neurotransmitters. This means that the brain uses hormones as signals to the different organs of the body to orchestrate its functioning and that processes such as growth and development, sexual functions, metabolism or mental health, among others, are correctly developed.
It treats of very effective substances, powerful even in small quantities. For everything to work properly it is essential that they are in balance. When that balance does not exist and some hormone is present more or less in the body, the consequences are noticed and there are disorders of all kinds that need medical attention.
The most important hormones and what function they fulfill in your body
Although how we say, all hormones must maintain their balance for the body to function properly, these are some of the most important, with the function they fulfill in our body.
1. Growth hormone
Growth hormone is called somatotropin, and its function is to stimulate growth, cell reproduction and regeneration of body tissues.
Its most known effect is the increase in height during childhood and adolescence , but it is not the only one. Growth hormone is also responsible for increasing the accumulation of calcium in the bones, promote muscle growth (hence its interest in the sports world ) and all organs, including the brain, as well as stimulate the immune system.
When there is a hormonal imbalance and an excess of growth hormone is produced , symptoms begin with an overgrowth of the jaw bones, as well as widening of the fingers and toes, pressure on the nerves, sweating , problems in the processing of glucose that can lead to diabetes and reduction of sexual functions.
In contrast, when the problem is growth hormone deficiency , the main symptom is, in children, short stature and stunted growth and sexual development. Although there are ways to increase the production of this hormone naturally , in case there is a serious imbalance it is advisable to consult a doctor.
The thyroxine also called T4 because tetraiodothyronine or formula contains four iodine atoms. It is generated in the thyroid, the main gland involved in our metabolism, and that is precisely the most important function of thyroxine in our body: participate in metabolism helping us to convert the calories we consume into energy .
When this hormone is produced in less quantities than necessary, the metabolism slows down and that can cause weight gain, greater sensitivity to cold, a slower heart rate
When the opposite happens and there is an overproduction , the metabolism accelerates, being able to cause a drop of weight, increase of the appetite, irritability, tachycardia and little tolerance to the warmest places.
Also called epinephrine , adrenaline is produced in the adrenal glands, located next to the kidneys. It is, in addition to a hormone, a neurotransmitter, which means to put in contact and transmit information from one neuron to another.
It is involved in many different processes, so it is difficult to define its function, but they all have to do with activating and alerting us. Adrenaline predisposes us to action , to rapid reaction and thus to take full advantage of muscles and bones if necessary. It is the main one involved in the so-called fight or flight reaction that is activated in a dangerous situation. Also in those in which there is something at stake if we are the most agile, like a sports competition.
When the adrenaline kicks in, several changes take place in our body : the pupils dilate, so that more light enters the eyes and we see better; the heart rate and respiration are accelerated so that more oxygen reaches the muscles, and the activity of other organs is stopped which will not be essential in case the body has to take action, like the digestive system.
The excesses of adrenaline take their toll : in extreme cases or in people with delicate heart health they can cause an attack or a heart attack. But other times, adrenaline is so necessary that it is injected, usually called epinephrine, as part of medical treatments for cardiac arrest or anaphylaxis, among others.
4. Glucagon and insulin
Although they are two different hormones, both work in teams regulating the levels of glucose that the liver releases to the blood so that it is transported to the organs and tissues where the cells will use it as fuel to function.
When glucose levels are too high, insulin comes into play to limit them. So when insulin is not present or is not enough, there are disorders such as diabetes .
In contrast, when glucose levels are too low, it is glucagon that stimulates the liver to release more into the blood.
Estrogens are one of the female sex hormones and are formed from cholesterol, so women who lose a lot of weight have menstrual disorders. They have a proliferating effect, that is, they cause the cells to multiply in tissues such as the ovaries, the uterus and other areas of the body. Its presence is greater the first seven days of the menstrual cycle.
They are not only related to the reproductive function. Estrogens also influence the metabolism of fats : they reduce bad cholesterol and favor good. They affect the distribution of body fat, favoring the typically female figure of wide hips. They have a protective effect on the bones , preventing decalcification.
In menopause , estrogen begins to diminish in women’s body until it almost disappears, and that leads to changes in their bones, as we say, but also in their skin, their figure and their mood. It is natural, but there are hormone replacement treatments , composed in part by estrogen, to alleviate the symptoms. The famous pill is also used as part of hormonal contraceptives .
Progesterone works together with estrogen to regulate the menstrual cycle of women. It acts mainly at the end of the cycle, after ovulation, and is responsible for promoting pregnancy and gestation: it creates and maintains the endometrium, the layer of mucosal and vascular tissue that lines the inside of the uterus and is what we commonly call rule.
Because of its effects, it is often used both in fertility treatments where it is especially difficult to get and maintain a pregnancy and to pathologies related to the menstrual cycle and its imbalances.
Testosterone is the main male sex hormone , although it is also produced by women: it is generated in the testes and in the ovaries. It has a great impact on physical performance because it affects muscle mass, and there are ways to increase it naturally .
In men, testosterone intervenes in the development of the testes and the prostate , as well as in other secondary sexual characteristics such as muscle mass, body hair or the aggravation of the voice during adolescence.
Testosterone fulfills many other functions , in both sexes, although its presence is much higher in men. For example, its effect makes the organs larger, so often the heart, lungs and so on are larger in men than in women. It also seems to have a protective effect in the third age.
Testosterone seems to have a direct relationship with behavior : higher levels are associated with greater aggressiveness, while paternity seems to reduce testosterone levels, suggesting that this promotes child-care behaviors. According to some studies , when men fall in love they reduce their testosterone, and women increase it, which would result in a reduction in the differences in behavior between them.