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Endocrine System

A look at parts of the human body's endocrine system, with variations from male (on left) to female (on right).

As an educational service to readers, I'd like to offer you "Endo 101," or a study of the human body's endocrine system.

If you are like me, this is a topic you have not thought much about since, say, biology class taken in the sophomore year of high school.

However, if you scroll down the list you will notice parts of the system that are subject to various diseases, such as the pancreas. Understanding the system, therefore, is useful, for the future.

Would you resolve to be more healthy in 2015? Read and learn:

1. Pituitary gland

Referred to as the "master gland," this gland is no larger than a pea but highly influences other organs in the body, and is vital to overall health.

Some of its functions include controlling growth in children, stimulating milk production in nursing women, sexual development in teens, helping you handle stress, adjusting metabolic rate, and regulating estrogen levels in women and testosterone in men

2. Adrenal gland

This gland helps to maintain normal blood pressure and sugar levels, and allow optimal response to stress.

3. Pancreas

This gland is located in the abdomen behind the stomach, and works to keep the body supplied with fuel for energy by maintaining a healthy level of sugar in the bloodstream and assisting with digestion

4. Pineal gland

Located deep in the center of the brain, this gland releases melatonin, a hormone that helps the body recognize when to go to sleep. It also influences the body’s reproductive hormones and conversion of nervous system signals to endocrine signals

5. Thymus gland

This gland is located behind the breastbone and produces substances that stimulate development of antibodies that control the body’s immunity and produce T-lymphocytes (T cells) or white blood cells that help fight off bacteria, viruses, and abnormal cell growth or cancer. The thymus is special in that, unlike most organs, it is at its largest in children. Once you reach puberty, the thymus starts to slowly shrink and become replaced by fat. Fortunately, the thymus produces all of your T cells by the time you reach puberty

6. Thyroid gland

Butterfly-shaped, this gland is located in the front of the neck. The primary function of this gland is to create two iodine-rich hormones – T3 and T 4 – which help regulate blood pressure, body temperature, energy level, heart rate, metabolism and even how your body works with other hormones.

7. Parathyroid glands

Located behind the thyroid gland and the size of a grain of rice, the body’s four parathyroid glands regulate and monitor the calcium levels in blood – important for proper bone development, as well as maintenance of bone strength.

8. Ovaries

Found in women, the ovaries have two functions: to produce eggs for fertilization and create the reproductive hormones, estrogen and progesterone, which help regulate a women’s menstrual cycle and prepare the lining of the uterus for pregnancy

9. Testicles

Found in men, the testicles produce testosterone, which stimulates sex drive and promotes sexual development in men including body and facial hair. Testosterone also increases muscle strength and bone mass. The testicles also produce sperm under the influence of the testosterone and pituitary hormones.

The glands that make up the endocrine system help control many important body functions and are essential for good health.

To learn more about how overall health can start with a healthy endocrine system, visit this site.

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