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Cortisol is the body’s stress hormone 

Cortisol is measured in cases of suspected cortisol deficiency or in hypercortisolism, which means the body produces too much cortisol.

Brief about cortisol

  • Cortisol is produced in the adrenal glands and has several important functions in the body.
  • Cortisol secretion increases significantly in response to sudden bodily stress, such as severe pain.
  • Cortisol levels are typically lowest at midnight and highest during the morning.

What is cortisol?

Cortisol is a stress hormone produced in the adrenal glands and has several important functions. It regulates blood flow, sleep, and metabolism, for example. During inflammation, physical stress, or fear, the amount of cortisol increases to protect the body and reduce the negative impact of stress. The purpose is to protect the individual, and when it functions properly, the person is focused and alert. If cortisol levels remain high for an extended period, it can lead to immune system problems.

What does a high value mean?

High cortisol levels can be observed in conditions such as stress, estrogen influence, treatment with corticosteroid medications, and Cushing’s syndrome.

Cushing’s syndrome

It is a rare condition where the adrenal cortex produces too much cortisol. Cushing’s syndrome is typically caused by a small tumor in the pituitary gland. The tumor produces too much ACTH hormone, which forces the adrenal cortex to produce more cortisol than needed. Symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome include weight gain, skin bruising, and mental health issues.

What does a low value mean?

Low cortisol levels can be observed in conditions such as Adrenogenital syndrome (where the adrenal cortex secretes too many androgens, or male hormones, into the bloodstream), untreated hypothyroidism, and Addison’s disease.

Addison’s disease

The adrenal cortex produces cortisol and aldosterone. In adrenal insufficiency, the production of these hormones decreases. Addison’s disease is caused by the body beginning to produce antibodies against the cells in the adrenal cortex. As a result, the cells that produce cortisol and aldosterone are destroyed. Symptoms of Addison’s disease include weakness, loss of appetite, nausea, and weight loss. The disease is treated with medication that replaces the missing hormone secretion, and the treatment is lifelong.

What are the reference values for P-Cortisol?

The cortisol concentration in the blood varies depending on the time of day. Cortisol levels are highest in the morning and lowest at midnight.

Morning sample: 145 – 620 nmol/L

Afternoon sample: 95 – 460 nmol/L

Reference values may vary depending on where the analysis is performed and which analysis method is used.

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Magnesium (Mg)

Those who are physically active should especially pay attention to the adequate intake of magnesium. Magnesium supports the well-being of muscles and bones.

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