Endocrine system 101
1. Endocrine system
The endocrine system is a collection of glands that produce hormones that are necessary for normal bodily functions. The glands in the endocrine system use those hormones to communicate with and control the cells and organs in our bodies. They secrete different types of hormones directly into the bloodstream and target specific organs. Each type of gland has its own special function. For example, they help in regulating mood.
The target organs contain hormone receptors that respond to the particular message that the hormones are carrying. There are about 50 different sorts of hormones in the body.
2. Major glands
The major glands that make up the human endocrine system are presented below.
2.1. The pineal gland
The pineal gland is located in the middle of the brain. It secretes a hormone that helps regulate the wake/sleep cycle.
2.2. The pituitary gland
The pituitary gland is located at the base of the brain. This gland, also called the master gland, is the most important gland in the body. It releases hormones to the reproductive organs and to the adrenal glands.
The pituitary gland stimulates growth in childhood and maintains adult bone and muscle mass.
2.3. The hypothalamus
The hypothalamus is located above the pituitary gland. It releases hormones to the pituitary gland to promote its production and secretion of hormones to the rest of the body. It also links the nervous system to the endocrine system. The hypothalamus controls body temperature, hunger and thirst.
2.4 The thyroid
The thyroid is located at the front part of the lower neck. It is shaped like a butterfly and weighs less than 28 grams. The thyroid is important to maintain the metabolism of the body. It releases T3 and T4 hormones to control the breakdown of food and store it, or release it as energy. Thyroid hormones also play a key role in the bones growth and the development of the brain and the nervous system.
2.5. The parathyroids
The parathyroids are 4 tiny glands attached to the thyroid. They work in combination with the thyroid to control levels of calcium in the blood. Calcium is very important for the bones and the teeth, but also for nerves functioning, muscles’ contraction, blood clotting and glandular secretions.
2.6. The adrenal glands
The adrenal glands are triangular shaped glands located above the kidneys. They control the burning of protein and fat, and regulates blood pressure. Through the medulla, they are also responsible for regulating the stress levels by secreting adrenaline to stimulate the fight or flight response.
3. Keep your endocrine system healthy!
It is very important to keep the endocrine system healthy by: