Hormones and Aging

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Another hormone that greatly influences human behavior and development is human growth hormone (HGH). This hormone is produced by the anterior pituitary (adenohypophysis) gland under the control of the hypothalamus. HGH production peaks during adolescence, corresponding to the growth spurt. While it is produced throughout life, it declines with age in all species studied to date. In humans, HGH production tends to drop quickly beginning in the thirties so that by age sixty, HGH production is only about 25 percent of what it was earlier in life, and it continues to decline until death. The decrease in HGH production with age has been tied to thinning of skin and wrinkle formation, muscle wasting, sleep problems, cognitive and mood changes, decreased cardiac and kidney function, lessening of sexual performance, and weakening ofbones, contributing to osteoporosis. Nutritional supplements including the amino acids arginine, lysine, and glutamine are being investigated as growth hormone releasers, thought to decrease signs of aging. Their use remains controversial.

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