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The Parathyroid Glands

Anatomy of the parathyroid glands

Parathyroid Glands - Click to Enlarge

The parathyroid glands are two pairs of small, oval-shaped glands. They are located next to the two thyroid gland lobes in the neck. Each gland is usually about the size of a pea.

Function of the parathyroid glands

Parathyroid glands produce parathyroid hormone, which plays a key role in the regulation of calcium levels in the blood. Precise calcium levels are important in the human body, since small changes can cause muscle and nerve problems.

The parathyroid hormone stimulates the following functions:

  • Release of calcium by bones into the bloodstream

  • Absorption of calcium from food by the intestines

  • Conservation of calcium by the kidneys

  • Stimulates cells in the kidney to transforms weaker forms of vitamin D into the form that is strongest at absorbing calcium from the intestines

Medical Reviewers:

  • Holloway, Beth Greenblatt, RN, M.Ed.
  • Hurd, Robert, MD