What is Human Growth Hormone?
Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is the common name for the hormones somatotropin and somatropin. Used throughout the body, the main functions of HGH are stimulating growth, and cell regeneration and reproduction. The hormone itself is produced in the anterior pituitary gland, which is a small structure located at the base of the brain.
Why is Human Growth Hormone Important?
HGH is extremely vital for the health of all people. The earliest known effect of HGH is that it influences height while growing; children with less will be shorter, and children with more will be taller. It has numerous other effects throughout life, helping the body in other ways such as:
- Stimulating the immune system
- Increasing calcium retention
- Stimulating the growth of internal organs (all except the brain)
- Fueling homeostatsis
- Reducing liver uptake of glucose
- Increasing muscle mass and bone mineralization
Another of the most important traits of HGH is its influence on the body’s metabolism. It has an effect on several types of metabolism.
- Protein metabolism: HGH promotes anabolism in protein throughout the body. This increases the uptake of amino acids, with protein synthesis increasing and protein oxidation decreasing.
- Fat metabolism: HGH stimulates your body’s breaking down of triglycerides, which lets your body use fats more efficiently.
- Carbohydrate metabolism: HGH is the hormone that regulates glucose in the blood to keep it in normal ranges. It also helps your liver synthesize glucose.
HGH works best if kept in a certain range. Having too much or too little can cause side effects.
Human Growth Hormone Deficiency
A deficiency of HGH can be caused by genetic conditions or malformations, pituitary adenoma, and structural trauma in certain parts of the body. A deficiency is more common in children than adults.
When present in children, a deficiency will commonly cause a failure of growth and general shortness. This can also lead to delayed sexual maturity. Adults with HGH can experience obesity alongside a reduction in muscle mass.
Human Growth Hormone Excess
An excess of HGH can be caused by a tumor on the pituitary glance made up for somatotroph cells. These tumors grow slowly and are considered benign.
The tumors may grow so large that they cause headaches and impair vision by pressuring the optic nerves. They can also displace pituitary hormones and cause deficiencies in other hormones. If the excess is prolonged, it can thicken certain bones, most notably the jaw, fingers and toes. Sweating, pressure on the nervous system, and muscle weakness are other effects that are associated with excessive HGH.