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The Endocrine System & Aging

Many of the disorders connected with aging are caused directly by changes in the level of the hormonal secretions manufactured by the hormone producing glands.

What are hormones? They can be best described as chemical messengers which serve to regulate important functions within the human body, including growth and aging, reproduction and metabolism. These chemicals are carried in the blood-stream to various targeted cells, in order to stimulate them to specific activity. 

The major glands are pituitary, pineal, thyroid and para-thyroid, thymus, adrenal, pancreas, ovaries and testes; and they are all concerned with manufacture of hormones. In addition to these glands, some other organs of the body produce hormones as a secondary function, e.g. the kidneys primary function is to filter blood, but they also contain endocrine cells that secrete hormones.

The pituitary, a pea-sized gland, regulated by a part of the brain known as the hypothalamus, exercises control over most hormonal activity. Some hormones work on cells all over the body, such as thyroxine, manufactured by the thyroid gland, which regulates the metabolic rate. 

Other hormones have specific functions, such as the anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) which acts upon specific cells in the kidneys only; adrenaline, manufactured by the adrenal glands is the chemicals that acts to produce a heightened state of response at moments of stress; the sex hormone level rises sharply, during puberty, and in women, drops after menopause; insulin, produced in the pancreas, regulates the glucose level in the bloodstream.

The thymus, a small, yellowish triangle located below the breast bone, controls the performance of the T-cells & B-cells of the corpuscles that make up the immune system, so crucial to the healthy functioning of the body after puberty the thymus gland begins to shrink, until it virtually disappears. 

Sometimes a chain reaction is created. For instance, the pituitary gland produces thyroid-stimulating hormone, TSH, which acts in turn upon the thyroid gland to produce thyroxine .

Metabolism , which encompasses a wide range of chemical processes that take place within the body, is largely controlled by hormonal activity. Metabolic disorders may be caused by over-production or under-production of a particular hormone, and can have wide ranging effects on the body's internal chemistry. Some metabolic disorders are due to faulty or blocked chemical pathways which cause build-up of chemical deposits within the body, instead of their elimination from the body system , leading to serious complications.

Hormones also regulate the balance of chemicals in the blood. If there is too much or too little, secretion is automatically increased or decreased until the correct level is restored. The parathyroid hormone, for instance, is responsible for maintaining correct calcium levels in the bloodstream.

Given below are some of the hormones which affect the bodyís day to day functioning:  

  • Growth Hormone (GH) stimulates growth of bones, cartilage, muscles. GH also affects metabolism



  • Parathyroid Hormone (PTH) &

  • Calcitonin regulate calcium and phosphate levels in blood stream
  • Thyroxine (T3 & T4) &

  • Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) affects the rate at which tissues use energy

  • Adrenocorticotrophic Hormone (ACTH), is another Hormone which affects body metabolism

  • Corticosteroid Hormone (production controlled by Corticotropin manufactured by the pituitary) & Cortisol help the body adapt to physical & emotional stress by boosting blood glucose levels

  • Cortisol also prevents inflammatory conditions in the joints.

  • Aldosterone Hormone helps to maintain blood pressure by regulating excretion of salt through the kidneys

  • Epinephrine &

  • Norepinephrine Hormones (manufactured by the Adrenal Glands) increase heart rate and blood flow to muscles in stressful moments

  • Insulin (lowers glucose) and

  • Glucagen (raises glucose) (both produced by the Pancreas) regulate glucose levels in the bloodstream.

  • Testosterone the main male hormone is produced throughout life, and is controlled by hormones secreted by the pituitary gland

  • Estrogen &

  • Progesterone, the female sex hormones, are produced by the ovaries

  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) &

  • Luteinising Hormone (LH) stimulate secretion of testosterone and development of sperm in men, and ovulation & secretion of estrogen in women

  • Prolactin stimulates breast development during pregnancy

  • Oxytocin stimulates contractions during labour

  • Melanocyte-Stimulating Hormone (MSH) causes skin cells to produce melanin, which is responsible for pigmentation of the skin, hair and eyes

  • ADH (anti diuretic hormone) is produced by the kidneys and controls BP

  • Melatonin regulates sleep patterns

  • Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) produced in the adrenal glands, is one of the 150 hormones known to be synthesized by these glands.

  • Human growth hormone
    HGH Supplements
    The Fountain of Youth & Your Hormones (article)



Much research is being conducted in the field of hormonal activity and the functioning of the glands. Yet questions and uncharted areas abound.

The one factor that is clear is that it is the neuro-endocrine system's various secretions that dictate the rate of aging within our bodies.

Supplements of growth hormone, melatonin and DHEA (a hormone from the adrenal glands which works to support the immune system) have been experimentally used as anti-aging therapy. But the benefits lasted only as long as the supplements were ingested.                                                        
The rate of age-related decline in the human body systems, and its consequences, are determined by a combination of factors.

Some, such as genetics, may be outside our control. But itís up to us to make our own lifestyle choices.

All body functions are inter-reliant. 

However, the nervous system is the most complex system in the body and regulates thousands of activities simultaneously. It is the source of our consciousness, creativity, communication, experiences and emotions. It also controls every bodily process. From automatic functions like breathing, salivating and blinking, to thinking, seeing and playing games of skill; whether voluntary or involuntary, there is no activity which by-passes the nervous system.

Intricately enmeshed with the functioning of all the systems is the endocrine system, the collective name for the hormone producing glands and cells

If we can find a way to keep our hormones flowing, and the glands working at the optimum level  throughout the span of our lives, we would have found the 'fountain of youth'.

And YoungAgainForever is pleased to bring you the Fountain of Youth!

 

 

CREDITS

Portions of the explanatory material contained on this web site have been adapted from a large number of published books and research papers on related subjects.



 


 
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