Hormones are essential to our bodies' everyday functioning. They are like the bosses of our cells--they tell them what to do. Without hormones, your cells would be just waiting around doing nothing. This means you wouldn't sleep, you wouldn't know when you're hungry, your emotions would be out of whack, and many more processes would be negatively affected.
Your body will continue to produce most hormones for the duration of your life, but there are a few hormones that your body will stop producing or produce significantly less as you age. Unfortunately these are your aging hormones--the ones that slow down your aging process. Although your body will stop producing them, you'll still need them so you may have to get them in the form of supplements.
Types of Hormones in the Human Body
There are four primary aging hormones:
- Human Growth Hormone (HGH)
They tend to be grouped into categories by sex--testosterone for men, estrogen and progesterone for women, and HGH for everyone. This grouping is inaccurate. Everyone's body produces these hormones regardless of their sex. Some hormones may be present in a higher quantity in one sex than the other, but all four are still important to the aging process for both genders.
Testosterone and Its Functions
The testosterone hormone is an androgen found in the male reproductive system. It is commonly called the male sex hormone. The main testosterone hormone function is the development of "male" characteristics (sperm, penis, muscles, etc.). Testosterone also helps to regulate men's sex drives, red blood cell counts, muscle mass, bone mass, and more. If you're wondering is testosterone a steroid hormone, the answer is yes. This means that it can't be used by athletes in professional competitive sports.
Even though the hormone is primarily found in men, women's ovaries produce a small amount of testosterone. In women, testosterone aids with sex drive, energy, and mood. It also aids in bone development.
Human Growth Hormone (HGH) and its Functions
The HGH hormone is a topic of hot debate. Some people swear that it's the fountain of youth while others feel that supplementing it isn't safe. What two things that are certain about this hormone is that the body stops producing it at a certain point and HGH supplements seem to have positive effects on people's development. So, exactly what is HGH hormone?
HGH is made by the pituitary gland. It is important to people of all ages for growth, as the name suggests. The HGH hormone function aids in protein production, fat burning, and raises the insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). Because of this, HGH injections tend to be popular among athletes. The increase in protein and decrease in fat helps to develop a lot of lean muscle mass. In some competitive sports, this is considered cheating and these injections are banned.
Estrogen and its Functions
Estrogen can be looked at as the female version of testosterone. The estrogen hormone function aids in the development of "female" characteristics such as the reproductive system, the menstrual cycle, breastfeeding, and more. It also aids in health in areas such as mood management, bone health, and heart health.
There are three types of estrogen:
Estrone (E1) is primarily produced by the androgens in the body. This is the second most promininent type of estrogen in the body. It helps to develop the reproductive system and secondary sexual characteristics in women.
Estradoil (E2) is the most prominent type of estrogen in the female system during child-bearing years. It is produced by the ovaries although a small amount can come from estrone. Estradoil helps with the maintenance of fertility as well as secondary sexual characteristics production.
Estriol (E3) is what people consider as the pregnancy hormone. When a woman is not pregnant, there is only a very small, undetectable amount of estriol in her system. When she becomes pregnant, it increases exponentially and aids in the development of the fetus and the overall health of the pregnancy.
Since some estradioil is produced by androgens, it's no surprise that a small amount can be found in men. It aids in men's sexual and reproductive development.
Progesterone and its Functions
Progesterone can be thought of as the "pregnancy hormone". This hormone is produced by women's ovaries to prepare the uterus for pregnancy. Progesterone is usually found in low levels in a woman's body, but will dramatically increase a few days after her menstrual cycle starts. It will stay elevated for a while and then decrease back to a low level. In addition to preparing the uterus for pregnancy, the progesterone function also helps to nurture a baby during pregnancy.