Hormones: What are their functions and why are they important?

Hormones: What are their functions and why are they important?

Hormones are chemical messengers of your body. The endocrine system is made up of glands that make hormones, and these hormones significantly affect bodily functions, from growth, stress management, and sleep patterns, to how our bodies break down food. Some days you might not feel like yourself and something might feel a little off. Often, in these situations your body goes through hormonal changes. Read further to learn more about hormones and how they may affect you!

Serotonin and dopamine are two hormones that are usually labelled as ‘‘happiness hormones’’. Serotonin is often known as a ‘‘feel good’’ hormone and a mood booster, and high levels may lead to real euphoria. On the contrary, low levels of serotonin are usually associated with depression. Thus, drugs designed to encourage secretion of serotonin are among the most common medications in the treatment of depression.

Dopamine is related to happiness, euphoria, motivation, attention, and reward system of our brain. Interestingly, when we experience rewarding stimulus, our brain responds by increasing release of dopamine. Additionally, if you accustom your body to certain stimulus, your brain will learn to increase dopamine levels even at the simple sight of a cue, as it predicts the reward. For instance, if you usually have dinner at 7pm, whenever that hour rolls around, you tend to become hungrier and think more about food, as your brain is expecting the reward (dinner).

Insulin and Thyroxine play a crucial role in our organ function

Insulin is a hormone essential for life and responsible for regulating metabolic processes that provide cells with energy. Pancreas produces insulin and insulin allows the cells in the muscles and liver to absorb glucose in blood. On contrary, glucagon is also produced in the pancreas, but provides the exact opposite: it raises blood sugar levels by releasing stored sugar reserves into fat cells. Optimal levels of both hormones are required for good health.

Thyroxine is a hormone that thyroid gland secretes into the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, thyroxine travels to the organs, such as the liver and kidneys, where it is converted to its active form of triiodothyronine. Thyroxine plays a crucial role in heart and digestive function, metabolism, brain development, bone health, and muscle control. It affects almost all of the body's systems, which means proper thyroxine level is vital for health.


Hormones shape our inner rhythm

If you have ever struggled falling asleep, you might have been told to take melatonin supplements. Melatonin is actually a hormone created in the pineal gland and is produced at night, when light that enters your eyes diminishes. Thus, melatonin is distributed in the body through blood, and increases at night and signals your body that it is time to rest and go to bed.

The manifestation of melatonin secretion may differ. Interestingly, melatonin levels will change during various stages of life. Although low levels of melatonin will not directly affect your physical health, decreased levels of melatonin will certainly make falling asleep difficult. On the other hand, too much melatonin, usually taken through supplements, may lead to drowsiness, fatigue, and even headaches. Before taking melatonin supplements, consult with your doctor to regulate levels of melatonin in your body and to check for any possible side effects.

The conductors of human emotions

Getting struck by Cupid's arrow may make your cheeks flush, palms sweat, increase your heart rate and take your breath away. These reactions are result of hormones dopamine and adrenaline; levels of the two hormones increase when you are falling in love. As stated above, dopamine creates feelings of euphoria. On the other hand, adrenaline is the hormone responsible for all those physical reactions that you experience when falling in love. Increase in these hormones not only that makes us more euphoric and happier when falling in love, but also justifies the saying ‘‘love is blind’’ where we only focus on good characteristics and tend to idealize our partners.

Experts say that there are three phases of falling and being in love, and these are lust, attraction, and attachment. For instance, the attraction phase exemplifies the times when we feel overwhelming fixation with our partners. During time, as we shift towards the attachment phase, our bodies get used to the pleasure stimulus and the fixation from the attraction phase will decrease. Hormones oxytocin and vasopressin are secreted more during this third phase, attachment, which creates an overall sense of well-being and security in the relationship.

Helping our bodies maintain the balance of our powerful hormonal balance is of a significant importance- sports, long walks in the fresh air, relaxing massages, and plenty of sunshine, fruits, vegetables and water are just some of the few great ways to keep the hormonal balance.

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