So, do you know what the hormones are? Probably you have some idea, but i will tell you anyway. The hormones are specific molecules produced by our endocrine system (glands) with the main mission to send messages and directions to different parts and organs of our body. The are present in the whole body, but can offect only specific target cells (hormone and hormone receptor — key and lock, so they are hormone receptors answering only to specific hormones. There are many hormones with the mission to optimize your cognitive function. They can support, maintain and create synapses.
First on our list, the thyroid gland, as a decrease in thyroid activity is quite common in AD (Alzheimer’s disease). The thyroid is mainly taking care of the metabolism speed, so when the activity decreases, the slower the cells will work. The reflexes will also slow significantly when the cellular metabolic speed is low. Your heart rate, your mental focus, your sleep quality and many other factors are affected by the thyroid function. As a side note, people suffering from dementia, mild cognitive impairment, subjective cognitive impariment and AD, all of them have low thyroid function level.
There are four main tests for thyroid function:
1. TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) — This is usually the only test used by most doctors, and it is not very accurate, as you can have suboptimal levels of thyroid activity with normal levels of TSH. TSH is produced by the pituitary gland, in direct relation with the thiroid hormones. When the activity of the thyroid is low, more TSH is freed in the bloodstream, so high levels of TSH translates in low thyroid activity. The normal accepted value is 0.4–4.2 microIU/ml, but in reality anything higher than 2.0 is concerning.
2. Free T3 (active T3) — This is an active thyroid hormone which lasts only for one day, and dissapears after that, and the optimal levels for it are 3.2–4.2 pg/ml.
3. Free T4 (inactive or storage form of the thyroid hormone) — Lasting about 7 days in the bloodstream, with optimal levels between 1.3–1.8 ng/dl.
4. Reverse T3 — It will inhibit the thyroid activity, and this is the main reason of measuring the ratio of freeT3/reverseT3. The ideal ratio is minimum 20, as the reverseT3 levels will increase when you are stressed, reducing the free T3 presence.
The sexual hormones are also very important, as for the men with low concentration of testosterone the risk of AD is increased. The testosterone is present in both sexes, but is higher for males, and supports the neuronal survival. There are two tests to measure testosterone, the total testosterone, with optimal values between 500–1000 ng/dl, and the free testosterone, with optimal values between 6.5–15 ng/dl.
The estrogen and progesteron hormones, more important from a feminine point of view, and not enough researched in connection with the cognitive decline, but the women that removed their ovaries due to genetic cancer risk are more than double at risk to have AD. Also, a high ration of estradiol to progesteron can lead to poor memory skills and ‘brain fog’.
The tests for these hormones are:
1.Estradiol — optimal value of 50–250 pg/ml
2. Progesterone — optimal value of 1–20ng/ml
3. Estradiol/progesterone ration — optimal value of 10–100
The cortisol is a hormone released by our kidneys, and it is a stress related hormone. High levels of cortisol are linked to neuronal damage (focusing on the hypocampus area) resulting in cognitive and memory skills declining. When we are exposed to chronic stress, the hormones needed to deal with it are not produced optimally, and out ability to deal with stress is affected (you become very sensitive to stress, and experience cognitive decline). The cortisol test (taken in the morning) has optimal values between 10–18 mcg/dl.
The pregnolone is a master steroid hormone, precursor to estradiol, testosterone, cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). Y ou may realise now that this hormone can be heavily used to create stress hormones when we experience high stress for prolonged periods of time, and not enough is left to create the sex hormones. If you ever wondered why you are not in the mood when you are under heavy stress, now you know. Lower levels of pregnolone are linked with cognitive decline too. A normal value for pregnolone will be between 50–100 ng/dl.
As I just mentioned DHEA, this hormone is a neurosteroid supporting the stress respones, and it is measured as DHEA sulphate, with normal values between 350–430 mcg/dl for women and 400–500 mcg/dl for men.
With so many numbers and technicalities thrown at you in this post, I will stop here for now, coming back soon with minerals and heavy metals (you rock!).
Previous related posts:
Next one will be about hormone imbalance.
Have a nice day!