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Endocrine Hormonal System 101 The Major Hormones

8 Major Hormones

Remember! Hormones affect every single tissue in the body. So when hormonal health gets out of whack, the affects are complex and wide reaching.

  • Gut function
  • Muscle growth and recovery
  • Brain function
  • Bone health

ESTROGEN: a group of sex hormones where there are at least 15 forms.

  • Estradiol (E2): Dominant hormone in women during reproductive years. This hormone facilities the cyclic release of eggs from the ovaries. Highly involved with HEART health and BONE health. Brain and colon. The decrease in E2 is what causes the common “menopausal” symptoms such as night sweats and hot flashes.
  • Estrone (E1): Dominant hormone in post menopausal women.
  • Estriol (E3): Estrogen released from the placenta during pregnancy.

Estrogen is mainly made in the ovaries. Adrenal glands and fat cells can make small amounts . Responsible with the characteristics of being female. The onset of puberty, public hair, breasts, thigh formation, etc. Men have estrogen too however in much smaller amounts. Estrogen is also responsible for regulating:

  • Cholesterol Levels
  • Urinary Tract
  • Heart and Blood vessels
  • Bones
  • Breast Health
  • Skin
  • Hair
  • Mucous membranes
  • Pelvic Muscles
  • Brain health and function

PROGESTERONE This is a hormone that is produced by a temporary endocrine gland that the body produces in the ovary during the second half of the menstrual cycle. This is the KEEP CALM and CARRY ON hormone because it has the ability to sooth the nervous system. Both men and women needs this hormone and progesterone is a precursor to testosterone.

  • Calm the nervous system
  • Prepare uterus for pregnancy after ovulation, trigger the lining to thicken to house the fertilized egg.
  • High levels of progesterone during pregnancy help to support life and develop of the fetus.
  • Direct access to the brain and nerves when it is circulating in the blood stream. It has a big job in protecting the brain and helping it to heal after injury. Promoting the growth of the myelin sheath, the protective layers of nerve fibers.
  • Supporting breast health
  • Supporting cardiovascular health
  • Supporting nervous system health
  • Helps to maintain healthy brain function
  • Helps to regulate mood
  • Helps to ease anxiety
  • Facilitate memory
  • Promote healthy sleep
  • Promote relaxation
  • Helps to maintain the traits of masculinity by counter acting the affects of estrogen.

CORTISOL: Main stress hormone. But this is not a BAD hormone. It has very vital functions in the body. It is released from the adrenal glands at the sign of stress. It helps the body to survive. For instance, when you fear for your life, cortisol will shut down digestion so you are more able to do other things, like run for your life. At the same time it facilities the release of fuel for energy in the body, so you can run and run fast. Other roles of Cortisol are:

  • Mobilizing energy from storage sites in the body (adipose tissue aka fat cells).
  • Breaking down molecules to release energy
  • Reducing inflammation and allergies
  • Preventing the loss of sodium in the urine to maintain blood pressure and blood volume (water management)
  • Helps maintain mood and emotional stability

The issue with this hormone, and where it gets it’s bad rap, is when chronic stressers are around, like a stressful desktop, relationship issues, etc, this constant stress response can reek havoc on the body. This constant stress response can to this to the body:

  • When cortisol mobilizes energy from storage sites it increases amino acids in the blood and liver. It then stimulates the liver to convert these amino acids into glucose so the body can use this for more energy. (run faster so you don’t get eaten, by the tiger, or your boss)
  • It rounds up glycogen and fatty acids in the blood to be to be used as fuel
  • Because you aren’t actually running from a tiger, all the “energy” or glycogen/glucose is stored (aka belly fat) . This is why that apple shaped appearance is also called hormonal fat. (later on we will discuss why this fat in particular is very unhealthy)

THYROID GLAND: Produces two main hormones, T3 and T4. FYI. TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone isn’t produced in the thyroid. This is produced in the pituitary gland in the brain. Think of the thyroid hormones as the GO GO GO hormones.

  • T3: active form of T4. The body does make a little bit of T3, but 80% of T3 needs to be converted from T4. T4 is excreted into the blood stream by the thyroid. It then travels to the other parts of the body, most notably the liver and kidneys, where it is converted to the active T4. (see why liver health and kidney function might be critical in this as well?)
  • These hormones work as a feedback loop along with the hypothalamus and the pituitary to coordinate production and release. TRH (thyroid releasing hormone) can be trigger in the brain (hypothalamus) to help to regulate the levels of T3/T4. Which triggers the pituitary to release TSH. And the circle goes on.

T3 Plays a MAJOR role in regulating:  Stay slender, prevent brain fog and feeling happy.

  • Metabolism
  • Heart function
  • Digestion
  • Muscle Control
  • Brain Development
  • Bone Maintenance

The thyroid is highly dependent on iodine and tyrosine. Iodine is a critical micro-nutrient. We will discus later the caveats about getting enough iodine in our diet.

PREGNENOLONE: Steroidal hormone, synthesized from cholesterol

Pregnenolone is produced mostly in the adrenal glands, but also in the ovaries, testes, brain and white blood cells. It naturally peaks during youth and declines with age. It is known as the master hormone, the precursor from which all other hormones are made. Estrogen, , progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and cortisol. Check out what it does:

  • Protects neurons from damage
  • Helps repair myelin sheaths
  • Enhances memory, motivation, and mood
  • Pregnenolone supplements have been used to treat some mental disorders included anxiety and depression
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Reduces symptoms of PMS and menopause
  • Improves immunity

TESTOSTERONE: Power and motivation. produced in the testes in men and ovaries in women and in small amounts in the adrenal glands of both men and women. Testosterone has a critical role in having a healthy libido. Interesting enough, a significant amount of Estradiol is converted from testosterone.

  • Masculine physical and emotional characteristics such as facial hair, aggressiveness, assertiveness, risk taking
  • Sex drive
  • Turn fat into muscle
  • Increase bone density
  • Boost mood
  • Manage stress
  • Support cognitive function
  • Signals the body to produce blood cells
  • Support and maintain of bone growth
  • Give a sense of power, motivation, and assertiveness

DHEA: Youth and fertility

DHEA is a steroid hormone that is synthesize from cholesterol and produced by the adrenal glands. The body uses DHEA to make sex hormones in both men and women. DHEA peaks in the mid 20s and declines with age. DHEA has been show to do the following:

  • Reduce abdominal fat
  • Improve insulin resistance
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Decrease Incidence of heart disease
  • Improve libido
  • Improve symptoms of depression

NOTE: more of DHEA isn’t always better. It is an androgen, or a male hormone, so a female that gets too much DHEA can experience aggression, hair growth and other unwanted masculine characteristics.

ANDROSTENEDIONE: Steroid hormone that has affects on levels of estrogen and testosterone in the body. 50% of a female’s testosterone comes for the conversation of DHEA and androstenedione from the adipose (fat) tissue. In females androstenedione is release from the adrenal glands and ovaries into the blood stream. There is it converted into estrogen and testosterone.


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