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Hormones And Their Roles

Endocrinology: Hormones and Their Roles

All of the hormones discussed in this section are produced by the endocrine glands. As such, they are related to each other, and in working among the glandular system, they can transfer their characteristics, actually transforming themselves into other hormones – a process called steroidogenesis – shown in the diagram to the left.

Cortisol is usually referred to as the "stress hormone" as it is involved in response to stress and anxiety, controlled by corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH). It's primary function is to increase blood sugar and stores of sugar in the liver as glycogen, and also suppresses the immune system.

DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) is a steroid hormone produced in the adrenal cortex from cholesterol. It is the primary precursor of natural estrogens.

Estrogen is the main sex hormone in women and is essential to the menstrual cycle. Although estrogen exists in men as well as women, it is found in higher amounts in women. Estrogen contributes to the development of secondary sex characteristics, which are the defining differences between men and women that don’t relate to the reproductive system. In women, these characteristics include breasts, a widened pelvis, and increased amounts of body fat in the buttock, thigh and hip region. Estrogen also contributes to the fact that women have less facial hair and smoother skin than men. Estrogen can be broken down into three distinct compounds: estrone, estradiol and estriol.

Estrone is the least abundant of the three estrogen hormones. It is relevant to your health because it is converted to estrone sulfate -- a a long-lived derivative that acts as a reservoir that the body can convert as needed to more active estradiol.

Estriol is produced in significant amounts during pregnancy as it is made by the placenta. Levels of estriol in non-pregnant women do not change much after menopause.

Estradiol is the predominant sex hormone present in women; however, it is also present in men, although at lower levels. It is the major estrogen hormone in humans. It has not only a critical impact on reproductive and sexual functioning, but also affects other organs and the bones.

Micronized Progesterone: Progesterone is the other of the two primary female hormones. It prepares the womb for pregnancy, and works with estrogen. But it is not well absorbed orally. For this reason, we use this special form of true progesterone that can be absorbed orally.

Pregnenolone is the raw material for all steroid hormones in the body. Although it’s the precursor of all steroid hormones, pregnenolone itself is not a steroid hormone. Instead, it is made from cholesterol in the cells of both the adrenal gland and the central nervous system.

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