The pituitary gland is a pea-sized gland that is located at the base of the brain. It is just one of many glands involved in the endocrine system. The endocrine system is made up of several glands throughout the body that produce and secrete hormones.

Many experts consider the pituitary gland to be the most important part of the endocrine system because it secretes hormones that regulate the functions of many other endocrine glands. As a result, patients with pituitary disorders may experience a disruption in many different bodily functions.

The pituitary gland secretes several different hormones that are important for normal bodily functions. Growth hormone (GH) regulates bone and tissue growth. It also helps maintain a healthy balance of muscle and fat tissue in the body. Anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) helps control urine production and manages the water balance in the body. Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) signals the thyroid gland to secrete other hormones that regulate the body’s metabolism. Luteinising hormone (LH) regulates testosterone production in males and oestrogen production in females. Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) signals sperm production in males and egg development and ovulation in females. Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) stimulates the adrenal glands to produce other hormones, such as cortisol. Prolactin regulates the development of breasts and breast milk in females. Although low levels of prolactin are present in males, there is no known function of prolactin in males.

If the pituitary gland releases too many hormones, disorders, such as acromegaly, Cushing’s disease, or hyperprolactinemia, may develop. If the pituitary gland does not release enough hormones, patients develop a condition called hypopituitarism.

Whilst research into the specific nutritional needs of the pituitary are limited, Vitamin B6 has been shown to play essential roles in pituitary function.

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  1. Barbul A, Rettura G, Levenson SM, Seifter E. Wound healing and thymotropic effects of arginine: a pituitary mechanism of action. Am J Clin Nutr. 1983 May;37(5):786-94. View Abstract
  2. Rose DP, M.D., Ph.D. & Braidman IP, B.Sc. Excretion of tryptophan metabolites as affected by pregnancy, contraceptive steroids, and steroid hormones. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol 24, 673-683, 1971. View Abstract
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