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HORMONES

Hormones are important chemical messengers made by the body from amino acids and various other components, including cholesterol, as and when they are required to coordinate biological processes between different cells, tissues and organs. They control bodily functions, from simple basic needs such as body temperature, hunger, satiety and sleep as well as complex functions such as development, growth, repair and reproduction. They also have a great influence upon emotions and moods. An example are growth hormones that are made in the anterior pituitary gland and released into the blood stream. This then stimulates the liver to produce the paracrine insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) that bind to its specific receptor, the insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R), which is present on many cell types in many tissues throughout the body.

 

Hormones have diverse chemical structures, mainly of three classes: eicosanoids, steroids and amino acid/protein derivatives (amines, peptides, and proteins). Peptides consist of two or more of the  twenty amino acids that make up proteins. Polypeptides and proteins both contain a combination of ten or more amino acids, but peptides consisting of more than fifty amino acids are classified as proteins. Peptide hormones are produced by the endocrine glands (adrenal, pancreas, pineal, pituitary and thyroid) or by various organs such as the intestines, kidneys, liver, placenta or stomach. Peptide hormones can have complex, convoluted structures made up of hundreds of amino acids. Human insulin is identical to pig insulin, except that the last amino acid of the B-Chain for the pig is alanine instead of threonine.

 

Steroid hormones are fat-soluble molecules made from cholesterol such as the three sex hormones groups, androgens, oestrogens and progesterones. Males and females make all three in different amounts. Steroids pass into a cell's nucleus, bind to specific receptors and genes and trigger the cell to make proteins.

 

Amino acid derivatives, such as epinephrine, are water-soluble molecules derived from amino acids. These hormones are stored in endocrine cells until needed. They act by binding to protein receptors on the outside surface of the cell. The binding alerts a messenger molecule inside the cell that activates enzymes and other cellular proteins or influences gene expression.

 

Insulin, growth hormone, prolactin and other water-soluble polypeptide hormones consist of long chains of amino acids, from several to 200 amino acids long. They are stored in endocrine cells until needed to regulate such processes as metabolism, lactation, growth and reproduction.

 

The A-Z of hormones

 

Hormone

Number of amino acids

Produced by

Functions

17β-Estradiol (17βE2 steroid)

Cholesterol derivative

Female reproductive system

Maintains the uterine environment and effects behaviour, stimulates granulosa cell growth, increases synthesis of granulosa cell insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1), maintains follicle stimulating hormone receptors and induces the luteinizing hormones receptors.

Adrenalin (epinephrine)

Tyrosine derivative

Adrenal glands

Controls the fight or flight response and blood pressure and converts glycogen to glucose.

Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH peptide)

39

Pituitary anterior lobe

Influences the amount of corticoids (cortisol and corticosterone) produced by the cortex of the adrenal glands. Corticoids help regulate the amount of minerals in the body, as well as carbohydrate metabolism.

Aldosterone (mineralocorticoids, steroid)

Cholesterol derivative

Adrenal cortex

Increases sodium (NA+) levels in the blood. It is necessary for regulation of salt and water in the body. It increases sodium re-absorption by an action on the distal tubules of the kidney.

Allopregnanolone (pregnane neurosteroid)

Progesterone derivative

Produced by cortical and hippocampus pyramidal neurons and pyramidal-like neurons of the basolateral amygdala in the brain.

An activator of the pregnane X receptor and has anaesthetic, analgesic, anti-aggressive, anticonvulsant, antidepressant, anxiolytic (relieves anxiety), cognitive and memory-impairing, neurogenic, neuro-protective, pro-sexual, pro-sleep, pro-social, rewarding, sedative, stress-reducing effects.[2] Fluctuations in the levels of allopregnanolone and the other neurosteroids play an important role in the pathophysiology of anxiety, catamenial epilepsy, mood, premenstrual syndrome and various other neuropsychiatric conditions.

Amylin (peptide)

37

Co-secreted with insulin from the pancreatic β-cells.

Helps with glycaemic regulation by slowing gastric emptying and promoting satiety, thereby preventing spikes in blood glucose levels.

Angiotensin ii

8

By the action of renin (an enzyme produced by the kidneys) on a protein called angiotensinogen, which is formed by the liver. Angiotensin I is transformed into angiotensin II in the blood by the action of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE).

Regulates blood pressure by vasoconstriction.

Atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP)

32

Heart

Lowers blood pressure, controls electrolyte homeostasis and reduces extracellular fluid volume by increasing renal sodium excretion.

Calcitonin (peptide)

32

Thyroid gland

Decreases calcium (Ca2+) and phosphate (PO43-) ions in the extracellular fluids.

Cholecalciferol (vitamin D3)

Cholesterol derivative

Skin

Responsible for the intestinal absorption of calcium, regulates the amount of phosphorus and magnesium in the body, assists with the maintenance of the immune system, thyroid function and normal blood clotting. It also acts as a co-factor in the utilisation of amino acids.

Corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH peptide)

41

Hypothalamus

Secreted by the paraventricular nucleus (PVN) of the hypothalamus in response to stress.

Cortisol (glucocorticoids, steroid hormone)

Cholesterol derivative

Adrenal glands

Regulates a wide range of processes throughout the body, including metabolism, inflammation and the immune response. It is released in response to stress and low blood-glucose concentration. Glucocorticoids released in the body send feedback to the brain and influence the release of CRH (corticotropin-releasing hormone) and ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone).

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA, steroid) Cholesterol derivative

Adrenal glands

A precursor to male and female sex hormones, including oestrogen and testosterone .
Deoxycorticosterone (DOC, steroid) Cholesterol derivative

Adrenal glands

A precursor for the synthesis of aldosterone and cortisol and involved in regulating the salt and water balance of the body.
Dihydrotestosterone (androgen) Cholesterol derivative

Testes, ovaries and prostate as well as skin and other tissues

Stimulates the development of male characteristics.
Dopamine (neurotransmitter) Tyrosine derivative

Hypothalamus in the brain

Responsible for addiction, attention span, executive function, hunger cravings, mental drive, mood regulation,  the reward cycle and facilitating muscular contractions. It regulates blood flow through the arteries, the control of motor functions, modulates eating habits, contributes to learning and high cognitive functioning and reinforces behaviour. It is also involved in regulating the secretion of hormones from the pituitary gland and body temperature control.

Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH protein)

204

Pituitary anterior lobe

Causes both egg cells and sperm cells to mature so that reproduction can occur.

Erythropoietin (EPO protein)

166

Kidneys

Promotes formation of red blood cells by the bone marrow.

Gastrin (peptide)

14

Parietal cells of the stomach. Released by G cells in the pyloric antrum of the duodenum, pancreas and stomach.

Regulates secretion of gastric acid and pepsin which is a digestive enzyme consisting of 326 amino acids.

Ghrelin (peptide)

28

Lining of the stomach when it is empty.

Stimulates release of growth hormones and increases feeling of hunger by signalling to the hypothalamus in the brain that the body needs to eat.

Glucagon (peptide)

29

Pancreas (Islets of Langerhans)

Tells the liver to convert more glycogen to glucose.

Gonadotropic releasing hormone GnRH peptide)

10

Arcuate nuclei of the hypothalamus.

These are follicle-stimulating (FSH) and luteinising hormones. (LH).

Histamine (autocoid, biogenic monoamine)

1

Basophils and mast cells found in all connective  tissues, but is particularly abundant in the gastrointestinal tract, lungs and skin and is made from the amino acid histadine.

Produced as part of the local immune response to invading bodies and triggers inflammation and causes blood vessels to increase in diameter (vasodilation) to become more permeable to the passage of fluid and white blood cells across the vessel wall. Histamine also regulates the release of gastric acid in the stomach and bowel motility and acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain, spinal cord and uterus and can be affected by oestrogen levels in the body of females. In the brain histamine neurons increase wakefulness and prevent sleep.  Histamine is also is involved in the contraction of smooth muscle tissues of the lungs, stomach and uterus.

Human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG protein)

237

Female reproductive system (trophoblast and placenta)

Produced after egg implantation in uterus.

Insulin (protein)

51

Pancreas (Islets of Langerhans)

Lowers blood glucose levels and promotes glucose storage as glycogen and fat and escorts glucose across the cell membranes. Fasting decreases insulin production but can kick start the pancreas into producing adequate insulin when diabetes has developed.

Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1)

70

Liver

Stimulates growth and repair in cells throughout the body.

Lactogen (human placental hormone)

191

Placenta late in gestation.

Modifies the metabolic state of the mother during pregnancy to enable sufficient energy supply to the feotus.

Leptin

167

Body fat cells

Brain function, fertility, immunity and tells the hypothalamus in the brain when there is enough fat stored and there is no need to eat.

Lipocalin 2 (protein)

198

Bone

Iron-trafficking protein involved in multiple processes such as apoptosis, innate immunity and renal development.

Luteinizing hormones (LH)

204

Pituitary gland

This hormone acts synergistically with follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). In males it stimulates the production of testosterone and in females it triggers ovulation.

Melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH or intermedin)

Me

Pituitary pars intermedia

Regulates prolactin secretions and, in fish, darkens the scales.

Melatonin

Tryptophan derivative

Pineal gland when there is no sunlight. It is derived from the amino acid tryptophan

Triggers sleep and controls the biological body clock.

Mineralocorticoids (aldosterone, cortisol and testosterone, steroids)

Cholesterol derivative

Adrenal cortex

Regulate the excretion or re0absorption of sodium and potassium by the kidneys, salivary glands, and sweat glands.

Noradrenaline (norepinephrine)

Tyrosine derivative

Adrenal glands

This stress hormone increases the blood pressure and heart rate, stimulates the release of glucose from energy stores, increases blood flow to skeletal muscle, reduces blood flow to the gastrointestinal system and inhibits voiding of the bladder and gastrointestinal motility.

Oestrogen (steroid)

Cholesterol derivative

Ovaries

Stimulates development of female secondary sex characteristics and prepares the body for childbirth.

Osteocalcin (peptide)

49

Bones (released by osteoblasts during bone formation)

Regulates glucose homeostasis, promotes β-cell proliferation, insulin secretion and plays a role in bone matrix building.

Oxytocin (peptide)

9

Pituitary posterior lobe

Causes contraction of mammary gland cells to produce milk and stimulation of contractions of the uterine muscles which lead to child-birth, increases blood pressure and decreases the formation of urine during pregnancy.

Parathyroid hormone (PTH peptide)

4

Parathyroid glands

Increases calcium (Ca2+) and phosphate ions in the extracellular fluids.

Phosphatonin (FGF23 protein)

251

Bones

Regulates phosphate concentration in plasma.

Pregnenolone (endogenous steroid)

Cholesterol derivative

Adrenal glands, brain, liver, ovaries, retinas (eyes), skin and testicles.

Precursor or metabolic intermediate in the biosynthesis of the steroid hormones androgens, glucocorticoids, mineralocorticoids, oestrogens and progestogens. Has a role in cognitive functions and memory in the brain.

Progesterone (steroid)

Cholesterol derivative

Female reproductive system

Makes the uterus favourable to the reception of a developing embryo.

Prolactin (PRL peptide)

198

Pituitary anterior lobe

Stimulates the production of milk in the mammary glands and maternal behaviour.

Secosteroids (vitamin D)

Cholesterol derivative

Skin

Enables absorption of calcium along with vitamin K2 and is involved with the  immune system and thyroid  function. It also helps to regulate the amount of phosphorus and magnesium in the body and helps to maintain a healthy heart, lungs, pancreas and nervous system.

Secretin (peptide)

27

Stomach and intestines.

Helps to regulate the pH of the duodenum by inhibiting the secretion of gastric acid from the parietal cells of the stomach and stimulating the production of bicarbonate from the centroacinar cells and intercalated ducts of the pancreas.

Serotonin

Tryptophan derivative

Pineal gland when sunlight is present.

A neurotransmitter that elevates the mood.

Somatostatin (growth hormone–inhibiting hormone GHIH, peptides)

14, 28

Produced by many tissues especially the digestive and nervous systems.

Regulates a wide variety of physiological functions and inhibits the secretion of other hormones, the activity of the gastrointestinal tract and the rapid reproduction of normal and tumour cells. In the hypothalamus, it regulates the secretion of hormones coming from the pituitary gland, including growth hormone and thyroid stimulating hormone. In the pancreas, somatostatin inhibits the secretion of pancreatic hormones, including glucagon and insulin.

Somatotropin (human growth  hormone HGH)

191

Pituitary anterior lobe

A protein that stimulates the growth of bones and organs by promoting amino acid uptake by cells and regulates development of the body. Growth hormone levels increase during fasting.

Testosterone (anabolic steroid)

Cholesterol derivative

Adrenal glands and testes in males. In females it is produced by the adrenal glands and ovaries as well as through the conversion of adrenal androgens in other parts of the body.

In male humans, testosterone controls the development of male reproductive tissues such as the testes, penis, prostate and sperm and promotes male characteristics such as increased muscle and bone mass and the growth of body hair. It is also involved in the production of red blood cells and has an influence on behaviours such as aggression and dominance. In females, testosterone is important for maintaining bone strength, energy levels and lean muscle mass but is required in far smaller amounts than in males.

Tetrahydrodeoxycorticosterone (THDOC, endogenous neurosteroid)

Cholesterol derivative

Brain

Reduces anxiety and seizure activity and affects mood and the reward circuits in the brain. It also plays a role in mediating deoxycorticosterone (DOC) function in stress and related neuro-endocrine conditions.

Triiodothyronine (thyroid hormone)

Tyrosine derivative

Thyroid gland using iodine and the amino acid tyrosine.

Controls brain development, heart and digestive functions, metabolic rate, muscle control and the maintenance of bones and affects blood vessels to determine body temperature.

Thrombopioetin (glycoprotien)

332

Liver and kidneys

Stimulates the production of megakaryocytes, the bone marrow cells that bud off large numbers of platelets

Thymopieotin (polypeptide protein)

49

Thymus gland

Stimulates the production of special lymphocytes (white blood cells) called T-cells, which play an important role in the immune system and controls the rate at which the skin and other tissues age.

Thymosins (polypeptide)

43

Thymus gland

Stimulates the development of T-cell antibodies.

Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH glycoprotien))

201

Pituitary anterior lobe

Stimulates the thyroid to produce and release thyroid hormones into the blood.

Thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH, thyrotropin releasing factor TRF or thyroliberin)

3

Hypothalamus

Controls pituitary thyroid stimulating hormone and prolactin release and has an effect on the arousal and feeding centres of the brain, causing wakefulness and loss of appetite.

Thyroxine (T4)

Tyrosine derivative

Thyroid gland

Controls brain development, heart and digestive functions, metabolic rate, muscle control and the maintenance of bones and affects blood vessels to determine body temperature

Vasopressin (antiduiretic hormone ADH peptide)

9

Pituitary posterior lobe

Controls the re-absorption of water from the kidneys into the blood stream and increases blood pressure.

 

Stress and hormones

 

Under conditions of severe physical or emotional stress, the body can slow down to conserve energy. this is s a normal coping mechanism. After the stress has passed the metabolism and body temperature are supposed to return to normal.

  1. The Hypothalamus stimulates the Pituitary gland to produce Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH).

  2. TSH stimulates the thyroid gland to produce T4 (thyroxine).

  3. T4 is the raw material used to make the active thyroid hormone T3.

  4. T4 is also converted to Reverse T3 (RT3) which is physiologically inactive.

  5. 80 percent of the active thyroid hormone T3 is produced outside the thyroid gland, in the tissues of the body.

  6. T4 is converted to T3 by an enzyme called 5′ Deiodinase.

  7. This enzyme is inhibited by stress, acute and chronic illness, fasting, cortisol (steroid), and other things.

  8. Under stress and fasting, the body converts less T4 to T3 and more T4 to RT3 to conserve energy (with less T3, the cells of the body slow down).

Natural foods that help the body produce and balance the hormones

  • Alfalfa sprouts

  • Apples

  • Artichokes

  • Avocado

  • Beans

  • Beef (grass-fed)

  • Beetroot

  • Coconut oil

  • Cod liver oil

  • Cucumbers

  • Eggs

  • Krill oil

  • Leafy vegetables especially asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, kale, spinach and watercress

  • Lemons and limes

  • Lentils

  • Nuts (soaked overnight or sprouted)

  • Oily wild caught fish

  • Olives and olive oil

  • Quinoa

  • Peppers (all colours)

  • Pheasant (hen)

  • Rabbit (wild)

  • Red cabbage and onions

  • Root vegetables especially carrots, Swede, sweet potatoes and turnips

  • Seeds and their oils especially flaxseeds, hemp, pumpkin and sunflower seeds

  • Squashes

  • Tangerines

  • Tomatoes

  • Venison

Note 1: Always consume any red, orange or yellow vegetables with avocado, butter, coconut oil, fish, nut seed or other plant oils or yoghurt as fat-soluble nutrients such as carotenoids and vitamins A, D, E and K cannot be absorbed unless consumed at the same time as some fat or oil.

 

Note 2:Always consume vitamin E-rich foods, such as nuts and seeds, at the same time as vitamin C rich foods such as fruit and vegetables. Too much of one or the other will cause an imbalance of iron, manganese and zinc as they have opposite effects upon these minerals.

 

Spices that can help to balance the hormones

  • Chill pepper

  • Cinnamon

  • Coriander

  • Cumin

  • Garlic

  • Ginger

  • Peppercorns

  • Turmeric

Nutrients that help the body produce and balance the hormones

 

Follow the links to find the highest natural food sources of these nutrients.

 

For disorders affecting the hormones and natural remedies see: Glands

 

References (copy and paste into browser)

  • efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/3532 

  • hindawi.com/journals/omcl/2015/343706/

  • sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352385916300184

  • sciencedirect.com/topics/biochemistry-genetics-and-molecular-biology/estrogen-receptor-beta

  • sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/tetrahydrodeoxycorticosterone

  • uniprot.org/uniprot/P80188

  • wilsonssyndrome.com/identify/wilsons-temperature-syndrome-blood-test-undiagnosable/

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