Growth hormone or somatotropin is a peptide hormone that stimulates growth, cell reproduction, and cell regeneration in humans. This hormone is essential for human development.
Growth hormone also stimulates the production of IGF-1 protein and increases the concentration of glucose (blood sugar) and free fatty acids. This hormone is a type of mitogen that is specific only to receptors on certain types of cells. Growth hormone is derived from 191 amino acid chains that are synthesized, stored, and released by somatotropic cells in the anterior wing of the pituitary gland.
Growth hormone is a major participant in control of several complex physiological processes, including growth and metabolism. Growth hormone is also a medicinal substance used in humans and animals.
Growth hormone acts on many parts of the body to promote growth in children. After the growth plates in the bone (epiphyses) are fused, growth hormone does not increase height. In adults, it does not cause growth but it helps to maintain normal body structure and metabolism, including helping to keep blood glucose levels within set levels.
Growth hormone is not released continuously, but is released in a number of pulses every three to five hours. This release is controlled by two other hormones released from the hypothalamus (part of the brain): growth hormone-releasing hormone (which stimulates the pituitary to release growth hormone), and somatostatin (which blocks that release).
Growth hormone levels are increased by sleep, stress, exercise, and low glucose levels in the blood. They also increase around the time of puberty. Growth hormone release is lowered in pregnancy or when your growth hormone levels are too high.
Benefits of Growth Hormone
Growth hormone has a function in controlling growth at a young age. Additionally, the hormone also plays an important role in the body’s metabolism.
Growth is a very complex process, and requires the coordinated action of several hormones. The major role of growth hormone in stimulating body growth is to stimulate the liver and other tissues to secrete IGF-I.
IGF-I stimulates the proliferation of chondrocytes (cartilage cells), resulting in bone growth. Growth hormone appears to have a direct effect on bone growth in stimulating chondrocyte differentiation. IGF-I also appears to have a major role in muscle growth. IGF-I does not only stimulate myoblast differentiation and proliferation, but also stimulates amino acid absorption and protein synthesis in muscle and other tissues.
Growth hormone has important effects on protein, fat and carbohydrate metabolism.
- Protein metabolism: In general, growth hormone stimulates protein anabolism in many tissues. This effect increases the absorption of amino acids, increases protein synthesis and decreases protein oxidation.
- Fat metabolism: Growth hormone enhances the utilisation of fat by stimulating triglyceride breakdown and oxidation in adipocytes.
- Carbohydrate metabolism: Growth hormone is one of the hormone batteries which serves to maintain blood glucose within a normal range. Growth hormone is often said to have anti-insulin activity, because it suppresses the ability of insulin to stimulate glucose uptake in peripheral tissues and increase glucose synthesis in the liver. Paradoxically, the administration of growth hormone stimulates insulin secretion, leading to hyperinsulinemia.
Growth Hormone Deficiency Symptoms
Too few growth hormones can lead to poor growth in children. In adults, lack of growth hormone can lead to lowered self-esteem, increased body fat, increased risk of heart disease and weakened muscles and bones. This condition can be caused by various factors: it could be due to genetic factors, injury to the pituitary gland (during development or at birth), or due to an unknown cause.
Growth hormone deficiency can also occur in adults due to brain injury, pituitary tumor or damage to the pituitary gland – which is caused by brain surgery or radiotherapy for cancer treatment. The primary treatment is to replace growth hormone using injections – either once a day or several times a week.
In the past, growth hormone treatment was stopped at the end of the growth. Today, recent research and findings reveal that growth hormone contributes to the development of bone mass and muscle mass to their maximum level. Additionally, growth hormone also reduces fat mass during development to an adult.
Therefore, specialist doctors are likely to discuss the benefits of continuing growth hormone after growth has completed until the age of 25 to ensure that bone and muscle mass reach the maximum level. In addition, growth hormone is also associated with the body’s energy levels.
According to some studies, 30% to 50% of adults with growth hormone deficiency feel tired to a level that impairs their well-being. These adults may benefit from lifelong growth hormonal treatment. In adults, growth hormone will not result in increased height.
If you need to consult about the use of growth hormone, or experience symptoms of deficiency, please contact Smarter Health.
Foods to Increase Growth Hormone
Maintaining a healthy diet is a great asset to your overall health. In general, there are various foods that can help stimulate growth hormone release.
The following are some food sources that have proven to increase growth hormone:
Melatonin-rich foods for breakfast
Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Consuming melatonin-rich foods in the morning helps in improving this cycle. Foods that contain lots of melatonin include raspberries, grapes, nuts, wheat, tomatoes, pomegranates, and mustard seeds.
Foods stimulating serotonin
Serotonin helps stimulate hormone release. This hormone is a neurotransmitter that helps relax the mind and improve sleep patterns. Some well-known food sources that can boost serotonin levels are pineapple, cheese, dark chocolate, salmon, and eggs.
Foods containing vitamin D
People who have hormone deficiency also deal with vitamin D deficiency. If you live in one of the sunniest places on earth, where the sun shines throughout the year, then this should not be a problem for you.
However, if you happen to live in a cold climate, then you should consider including daily vitamin D intake as part of your diet. Foods rich in vitamin D are fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna), cheese, egg yolks and milk.
L-Arginine is a strong amino acid that contributes to growth due to its function of synthesizing protein and increasing the release of growth hormone. Foods that are rich in amino acids include chicken, red meat, nuts, seeds, soybeans, brown rice and chocolate.
The release of dopamine triggers the pituitary gland to improve growth hormone production. Food sources that help release dopamine include beef, chicken, salmon, bananas, eggs, nuts and dairy products.
Apart from natural sources, you can also consume supplements that stimulate the growth hormone.