Science Corner: Hormones Primer

By November 8, 2010 2 Comments

Hi! This is Sue G, a contributor to Dustin Maher’s Blog.

Recently, I browsed through a women’s magazine, and came across a name of a hormone I have heard alot about and was interested in more information. In my contributor profile, I mentioned that I have a science background, so I thought it would be interesting to do a little research on hormone basics and share what I read. I hope you agree that knowledge and eduation, topics Dustin routinely shares, will help us all! (See Dustin’s educational post on how to take your measurements http://dustinmaherfitness.com/category/body-assessment/)

Hormones are powerful chemical messengers busy traveling in your bloodstream to tissues or organs. Many important processes are regulated by hormones such as: growth and development; metabolism – how our body gets energy from the foods we eat; reproduction and mood.

Hormones are synthesized in your endocrine glands – some of the major glands being the pituitary, pineal, thymus, thyroid, adrenal gland and pancreas. These endocrine hormones are released directly into the bloodstream. The target tissue or organ for the specific hormone has a receptor site to grab the hormone and attach it. Once combined, a cascade of events is triggered at the cellular level, and the effect on the body begins!

Many effects are those we are all so familiar with: stimulation or inhibition of growth, mood swings, activation or inhibition of the immune system, regulation of metabolism, preparing for new phases of life such as puberty, parenting and other adult changes, and …hunger cravings! But, the more I read, again I marveled at the intricate balance system hormones operate under, and how small changes can affect big results. (I bolded that because isn’t that true for just about everything?)

Many different conditions affect the way the endocrine system functions – some are natural such as aging, and some are hereditary. Most are affected by just the way we live – for example: what and how we eat, sleep, exercise, and manage stress.  What has become surprising is the number of external conditions that also affect us in the form of commercial synthetic materials – chemicals in the food, environment and products we use. But that is another subject, and this is just about hormones.

So, most of us are familiar with the common hormones, insulin, cortisol, estrogen, and testosterone. But I thought I would close with a short list of some important ones you may not know about …and ….the one that stimulated me to write about hormones:

Vasopressin: helps maintain blood pressure and water and electrolyte balance.

Calcitonin: aids in bone construction by stimulating calcium deposits in the bone.

Melanotropin: helps to make melanin, the pigment that gives color to the skin and helps protect it form damage by ultraviolet rays.

The two newer hormones  – Leptin and Ghrelin. More on those in the next blog!

In the meantime, what small change can you make  that just might affect a big result?