The four parathyroid glands are embedded near the thyroid, with two attached to each thyroid lobe, on opposites sides of the throat. Hormones from the parathyroid glands help control calcium and phosphorous levels in the body. These glands oversee the breaking down of bone cells to release more of these minerals into the blood; a hormone from the thyroid has the opposite effect, and builds up the bones. Control of this system depends on blood levels of calcium ions: low levels "turn on" hormone production to break down bone tissue, so that blood levels remain stable. It is important to absorb enough dietary calcium to avoid this breakdown of bone tissue.
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