5 Facts About Human Growth Hormone Everyone Should Know
If you have ever wondered why more people are becoming fascinated with human growth hormones (HGH), it is most likely because they realize just how big of a role they play when it comes to overall health and well-being. Although these peptide hormones are generally well understood, there is still much that remains unknown about them. And these unknowns are probably further fueling those flames of curiosity.
One of the many things that we know definitively about human growth hormones is that they are hormones secreted by the pituitary gland, which is one of eight hormone-secreting glands within the endocrine system. And we can thank Choh Hao Li for affording us this knowledge. For those who are not familiar with Choh Hao Li, he is a Chinese-born biochemist and endocrinologist credited with discovering, in 1966, the role of human growth hormones and insulin-like growth factor 1 in facilitating growth during childhood and adolescence.
This scientific breakthrough was the result of Li successfully synthesizing HGH using both chemical means and recombinant DNA technology. In recognition of this discovery, Choh Hao Li was dubbed a superhero of science and medicine.
What input do hormones have in our everyday lives?
Now that we are a little more up to speed when it comes to the history and facts as they relate to growth hormones (GH), let’s discuss the endocrine system as a whole as this will provide further insight relative to the importance of hormones in our everyday lives. However, before doing so, we should first understand that the eight primary hormone-secreting glands in the endocrine system consist of the following:
- The ovaries in women
- The testes in men
According to specialists of hgh clinic of Miami, the endocrine system facilitates and closely controls the release of all hormones into the vascular system, a process critical in regulating distant target organs within the body. To truly appreciate this complicated process, we should take a look at how some of these hormones contribute to our overall health and well-being:
Triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) – The thyroid gland uses iodine derived from the foods that we eat to secrete both T3 and T4. These two hormones are responsible for regulating body weight, energy levels, and internal temperature. They also support healthy skin, hair, nails, and many other things having to do with our physical appearance.
Thymosin – The thymus gland secretes thymosin, which, like T3 and T4, is a hormone that supports hair growth. However, these same hormones also strengthen the immune system, which makes us less prone to infections and diseases.
Parathyroid hormones – As the name might suggest, parathyroid hormones are hormones secreted by the parathyroid gland, and they aid in regulating calcium levels in the blood. And this is important since calcium contributes to stronger bones and teeth.
Aldosterone – The adrenal gland is responsible for secreting aldosterone. This hormone plays a crucial role in regulating salt and fluid levels in the body, which, in turn, supports healthy blood pressure levels.
Estrogen and progesterone – In women, the hypothalamus and the ovaries work together to secrete estrogen and progesterone, both of which are essential when it comes to sexual reproduction.
Testosterone – In men, the testes are responsible for secreting testosterone, a hormone, which, much like estrogen and progesterone secreted by the ovaries in women, are essential to sexual reproduction.
Human growth hormones – The pituitary gland is the gland within the endocrine system that secrete human growth hormones. These peptide hormones not only work with but also play a big part in regulating how other hormones in the endocrine system function.
What Are the Functions of HGH in Children and Adults?
Irrespective of age, HGH plays a part in numerous bodily processes to promote homeostasis, including body composition, the metabolism of fat and sugar, and, to a moderate or middling extent, cardiovascular function.
The most significant difference when it comes to growth hormones in children versus adults has to do with stimulating growth. During early childhood and into adolescence, GH works with a hormone secreted by the liver known as insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). This hormone, structurally similar to insulin, works alongside GH to grow and develop bones and tissue, two processes that are essential to growth spurts.
During adulthood, the liver secretes less IGF-1, but the pituitary gland continues to secrete a fair amount of GH until about age 30. And this is because the body continues to rely on growth hormones to function optimally even in adulthood.
5 Important Facts You Should Know About Growth Hormone Deficiencies in Children and Adults
When it comes to GH deficiencies, many people have misconceptions concerning who is most at risk of developing one. The same is true when it comes to symptoms and the treatments that can help boost low GH levels. With that in mind, here are five facts that everyone should know about growth hormone deficiencies in both children and adults:
- GH deficiencies in children are rare – Studies show that only 1 in 3,800 babies are ever born with a growth hormone deficiency. Nonetheless, symptoms typical of low GH levels in children and teens include stunted growth, delayed puberty, and an unusually young-looking face.
- GH deficiencies can stem from other health problems – While getting older is the most common cause of a GH deficiency, it is not the only one. The condition can also be a byproduct of certain genetic diseases, such as Prader-Willi syndrome and Turner syndrome.
- GH deficiencies affect thousands of adults in the U.S. – Adult-onset growth hormone deficiencies are more common than many people might think. Current data shows that some 6,000 adult men and women in America receive such a diagnosis every year.
- Most men and women will develop a GH deficiency in middle age – While the pituitary gland never stops secreting GH, it does secrete fewer of them after puberty. And after age 25, production of this hormone can drop by as much as 50 percent each year. For this reason, most men and women tend to develop a GH deficiency as early as middle age.
- Low GH levels can cause numerous unpleasant symptoms – Developing a human growth hormone deficiency can give way to a surprisingly large number of unpleasant symptoms, including anxiety, depression, low libido, and insulin resistance. And it does not end there as high cholesterol, low bone density, and a reduction in muscle mass, not to mention overall strength, are also associated with low GH levels.
Diagnosing and Treating GH Deficiencies in Children and Adults
The only way for individuals to know whether or not they have a GH deficiency is by scheduling an appointment with an endocrinologist who will conduct the following:
A symptom assessment – Most physicians will spend a fair amount of time learning about the symptoms that an individual with a possible GH deficiency is experiencing and the extent to which they impact their day-to-day life.
Diagnostic testing – One of the go-to diagnostic tests that an endocrinologist will perform to confirm whether or not a patient has a GH deficiency is a blood test, which can show the number of growth hormones in their blood.
After completing a symptom assessment and the necessary diagnostic testing, an endocrinologist will then discuss treatment options with the patient.
Common Ways to Treat Low GH Levels in Children and Adults
If a physician concludes that a patient is, indeed, suffering from a GH deficiency, he or she may recommend lifestyle changes that can increase low GH levels naturally. Some of the most common recommendations include exercising regularly, consuming a healthy diet, and getting more sleep. In some cases, however, a physician might instead recommend hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which includes the use of one or more of the following prescription-based drugs:
The Benefit of GH Replacement
In children and adults, prescription GH replacement medications, along with increasing low GH levels, provide considerable relief from the ill-effects caused by a GH deficiency. In children, this means putting an end to stunted growth and delayed puberty, for example. For adults, it means no longer having to struggle with low libido, anxiety, depression, and many other symptoms brought on by low GH levels.
In summary, the development of a GH deficiency or a hormone imbalance of any kind can be life-altering for children and adults alike. That said, if anything discussed in this article resonates with you, it would be best to speak with an endocrinologist as soon as possible.