You've probably heard of your adrenal glands, but could you point them out on the body or list everything they do for you? The adrenal glands mean one thing -- hormones -- which, in turn, means several things. Hormones control countless processes within the body and your adrenal glands are among the key players in keeping hormone levels balanced.
What the Adrenal Glands Are
Located on top of the kidneys, the adrenal glands are triangular in shape and without any ducts. The inner part of the adrenal gland is the cortex and the inner part is the medulla. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the adrenal glands' main function is to produce hormones in conjunction with the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. The hormones they produce play key roles in several of the body's processes. Adrenal gland disorders occur when the glands are producing too much or too little of a particular hormone.
Responsibilities of the Adrenal Glands
Hormones carry out a multitude of tasks and processes in the body, affecting how we look, feel and even act. These are the main functions of the hormones produced by the adrenal glands:
Energy Production -- The hormones produced in the adrenal glands, particularly those produced in the adrenal cortex, support metabolism, converting food into energy and helping maintain a healthy weight.
Blood Pressure -- Aldosterone is a hormone that helps keep the blood pressure and volume in the desired range by preventing the body from losing too much salt through the urine.
Stress Response -- The hormone responsible for stress response is cortisol. Having too much cortisol is diagnosed as Cushing's syndrome, while having too little is Addison's disease. The "fight or flight" response is triggered by the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine, also known as adrenaline and nonadrenaline.
Physical Appearance -- Hormones produced by the adrenal glands also determine an individual's physical characteristics, such as hair growth and body shape, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
The main symptom you may be experiencing if the adrenal glands aren't functioning properly is fatigue. Weight gain, especially around the face and abdomen, can be another sign of an adrenal gland disorder. If you notice you're feeling more tired than normal, anxious, are having difficulty falling asleep or experiencing other physical changes you can't seem to determine the cause of, speak to your physician about checking your adrenal glands.
Supplements for Adrenal Support
The predominant supplement for correcting adrenal gland function is adrenal and spleen tissues from bovine sources (cow). You can also take herbs to support the function of the adrenal gland and correct some of the symptoms you may be experiencing, such as fatigue. Among the most commonly used herbs are ashwagandha root, rhodiola, licorice, clove, gotu kola and eleutherococcus. Lastly, vitamins are needed to provide nutritive support to the entire body. The key vitamins for healthy adrenal gland function are vitamins B6, B12, C, folic acid and pantothenic acid.
These supplements are typically available in capsule or tablet form. Discuss how you're feeling with your physician before taking an adrenal gland supplement, to determine if that's the exact cause of your symptoms and follow all dosage instructions carefully.
Now that you're up to speed about your adrenals, it's time to start paying attention to them, as with all the body's other vital organs and glands. Check out all of our adrenal support supplements at eVitamins to keep the adrenal glands functioning properly. It may be the way to fight that fatigue that's weighing you down.