Steroids



People usually think of steroids as drugs that athletes take to build their bodies more quickly. Steroids are more than that. They form an organic compound group that include sterols, D vitamins, bile acids, some hormones, saponins, glucosides (organic compounds that produce sugar) of digitalis, and some carcinogenic (cancer-causing) substances. These compounds may come from a number of different substances and have a variety of functions.

Cholesterol

Sterols, for example, are related to fats and are found in either plants or animals. An common example of a sterol is cholesterol. Cholesterol is found in almost all body tissues, particularly the nervous system, liver, kidneys

Steroids. Steroids form an organic compound group that includes sterols, D vitamins, bile acids, and some hormones.
Steroids. Steroids form an organic compound group that includes sterols, D vitamins, bile acids, and some hormones.
and skin. It forms part of cell membranes and is synthesized in the liver and other organs. The body uses cholesterol to produce other steroids. For several decades, doctors have associated cholesterol with the build-up of damaging plaque in the arteries.

Other Steroid Group Members

Saponins are found in the roots of some plants. They can be very dangerous since they can destroy red blood cells. The steroid digitalis is a plant product used to stimulate the heart. It is a dangerous drug that must be administered with care because an overdose can be fatal. Sex hormones that control sexual maturity and reproduction are also steroids. Sex hormones include androgens for male functions and estrogens and progesterone for female functions.

[See also Sex hormones ; Vitamin ]



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