The adrenal glands, which are two glands that sit above the kidneys, secrete three different categories of hormones. Adrenal gland hormones include adrenalin, noradrenalin and a variety of corticosteroids, which simply refer to steroids that are produced by the adrenal glands. The corticosteroids include cortisol, cortisone, corticosterone, aldosterone, testosterone, progesterone and estrogen.
The inner part of the adrenal gland, which is known as the adrenal medulla, is responsible for adrenalin production. Adrenalin is a hormone that the body secretes in response to stress. It readies the body to fight, or to flee from an external stressor. To do so, it increases the heart rate, delays the onset of muscular fatigue, improves the ability of the muscles to contract and increases the body’s metabolic rate. These effects of adrenalin allow the body to act quickly and efficiently in the face of a potential threat.
Noradrenalin, also commonly referred to as norepinephrine, is also produced in the adrenal medulla. This hormone works in tandem with adrenalin and produces similar effects in the body during times of stress. For instance, both of these adrenal gland hormones work to increase heart rate. Noradrenalin is also responsible for causing blood vessels to contract, which results in increased blood pressure.
There are three distinct categories of the adrenal gland hormones known as corticosteroids. Each of these is produced in the outer portion of the adrenal glands, which is called the adrenal cortex. One category, glucocorticoids, includes the hormones cortisol, cortisone and corticosterone. These hormones are responsible for regulating the body’s use of carbohydrates, fats and proteins by converting them into glucose. They are also known for their anti-inflammatory capabilities.
A second category of corticosteroids is referred to as mineralocorticoids. The most important of these adrenal gland hormones is aldersterone. Aldersterone regulates the body’s metabolism of minerals and regulates the amount of sodium and water in the body. It helps the body eliminate potassium and retain a healthy amount of salt. Further, several symptoms can result when there is too much or too little of this hormone including muscle weakness and increased blood pressure.
Sexcorticoids is the name given to the third category of corticosteroids. This category of adrenal gland hormones includes estrogen, testosterone and progesterone. Testosterone is responsible for regulating the development of sexual characteristics and organs in males. It plays in integral role in the formation of the testis and prostate. Estrogen and progesterone are integral in the production of female sexual characteristics and regulation of the female menstrual cycle.