Hormones are chemical messengers that are responsible for making sure your body systems function properly and control many processes. Balanced hormone levels are very crucial for optimal health. There are so many hormones in your body working hard to keep you functioning, but here’s a few of the key hormones and the effects they can have.
Estrogen is a female sex hormone. It is produced mainly in the ovaries, but your adrenal glands produce some, as do fat cells. Estrogen is a key hormone for women in particular because it is responsible for menstruation, menopause, reproduction, sex drive, and even bone and blood health. One of the hormones it works with is progesterone, another female sex hormone. The two need to be in balance for good health.
While a woman’s estrogen levels will rise and fall naturally throughout her life, there are things to look out for to see if there is an imbalance that can be treated. Too much estrogen can also lead to depression or general moodiness. Low levels of estrogen can cause skin issues like acne, lesions, and hair loss too.
Progesterone is a hormone released by the corpus luteum in the ovary. It prepares the endometrium for the potential of pregnancy after ovulation. It triggers the lining to thicken to accept a fertilized egg. It also prohibits the muscle contractions in the uterus that would cause the body to reject an egg.
Women produce lower levels of testosterone in the ovaries and adrenal glands. Testosterone is responsible for regulating sex drive, muscle strength, fat distribution, bone mass, and the production of red blood cells. In women, too much testosterone can cause acne, thinning hair on the head, more body and facial hair, low libido, irregular periods and reduction in breast size.
Cortisol is a stress hormone produced by the adrenal gland. It mainly functions as a response to stress. It kicks in to put your body in survival mode in dangerous situations. It also controls inflammation and blood flow.
Too much cortisol can result in hypertension, anxiety, high cholesterol, autoimmune problems, and a condition called Cushing’s syndrome. Low levels of cortisol also cause problems like low blood pressure, fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite. These are all symptoms of Addison’s disease.
DHEA or “dehydroepiandrosterone” is a hormone precursor, which means that it helps to set off the reaction that will produce other hormones, such as testosterone and estrogen. It also serves a protective role against stress and helps to maintain the immune system throughout your life.
Produced by the pancreas, insulin is responsible for converting sugar, or glucose, from the carbohydrates you ingest into energy. Or it can also help store the glucose in the liver for future use. Insulin is the hormone that keeps your blood sugar levels from getting too high or too low.
The hormones that come from the thyroid gland are responsible for many things. They manage the metabolism of all of your body’s cells. This can affect metabolism, weight gain and loss, energy levels, and body temperature. An imbalance of thyroid hormones can lead to issues with energy level, weight fluctuations and more, while serious thyroid disorders include Hashimoto’s disease and Grave’s disease.
You might have heard of serotonin as it relates to moods or mental health. This hormone is involved in memory and learning ability, sleep regulation, some muscle functions, and digestion. Low serotonin can also lead to weight gain, migraines, and insomnia.
Ghrelin is the “hunger hormone” that is produced in the gut. It travels through your bloodstream and to your brain, where it tells your brain to become hungry and seek out food. Ghrelin’s main function is to increase appetite. It makes you consume more food, take in more calories and store fat.