DHEA - Supplement Information
Cautions: DHEA is NOT for use by pregnant women nor is it recommended for men with known or suspected prostate cancer.
Here is the biosynthesis pathway (conversion process) in the production of testosterone:
Cholesterol => pregnenolone => DHEA => Androstenedione => Testosterone
DHEA is made by the adrenal glands beginning just before puberty. DHEA levels peak in our mid 20's and slowly declines to age 80.
Supplementing with DHEA is best for those over 40 years of age as natural levels of DHEA begin to decline, but will also help younger people who have low natural levels of this hormone.
DHEA has been shown in studies to increase IGF-1 (Insulin Growth Factor 1) levels and decrease the catabolic hormone cortisol.
Description: DHEA, also known as "the mother hormone", is produced by the adrenal glands and is the most dominant hormone in the body. The body converts DHEA into whatever hormone it needs (i.e. estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, and coriconsterone) In both sexes, blood levels of DHEA peak at 20. Thereafter, the levels steadily decline throughout aging, more dramatically with child bearing and with menopause. By eighty years old, the body only has 5% of the DHEA levels it had at 20! Many age-related conditions appear associated with lower than average levels of DHEA. A recent study conducted at Stanford found dramatic clinical results in lupus patients adding DHEA to their diet
Hardly any other nutritional supplement that became available over the last few years has convinced consumers of its benefits as much as DHEA has. Dehydroepiandrosterone is considered to have a wide range of benefits especially for people above 35 or 40. Actually, DHEA supplements seem to be the more beneficial the older the person using it. The effects of DHEA can be summarized as simply rejuvenating. Both men and women will notice an increase in sex drive, though this is more explicit in women. Men will often notice that they will have an easy time losing some weight, or converting fat into lean body mass. Dosages for men range between 25 and 100 mg per day, while for women, 25 mg should usually be the maximum dosage.
DHEA is the only hormone that declines with age in both men and women. It's decline signals age-related disease. DHEA is said to be effective at improving and preventing many age related diseases, thus being seen as an anti-aging treatment.
Research indicates DHEA therapeutic effects in many chronic conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, obesity, multiple sclerosis, parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, disorders of the immune system, depression, and osteoporosis. For each of the medical conditions listed above, there are many studies invariably demonstrating them to be associated with low blood levels of DHEA.
DHEA works in three important ways: it maintains normal sex hormone levels, inhibits the damaging effects of stress, and increases the production of antioxidant enzymes in the liver. Low levels of DHEA can lead to chronic fatigue, weakness, depression, headaches, and leave one susceptible to infections and disease. It's effect on the immune system has led researchers to believe that DHEA may play an important role in fighting AIDS.
Advocates claim that DHEA supplements can improve mood, increase energy and libido, counteract the effects of stress, preserve muscle, strengthen the immune system, and prevent cancer and heart disease. The most immediate and lasting effects of supplementation is an elevated mood and sense of physical well-being.
Another benefit of DHEA is its ability to help the body burn calories for energy rather than store them as fat. DHEA blocks an enzyme named G6pD (glucose-6-phosphate-dehydrogenase) that is not only essential for fat tissue production but also promotes cancer cell growth. By blocking it, DHEA's action of reducing body fat and helping to prevent cancer may be explained.
DHEA has anti-aging properties, because it counteracts the stress hormone, Cortisol, that cannibalizes our body and causes destruction of tissues causing rapid aging. Elizabeth Barrett-Conor, MD, charted DHEA sulfate levels in 242 men, ages 50-79, for twelve years. She observed that 100mcg/dl increase in the DHEA sulfate level was associated with a 36% reduction in death from cardiovascular disease.
French researcher, Dr. Emile-Etienne Baulieu, who isolated DHEA in the 60's, summed up the benefits of the hormone by stating, "DHEA won't make people live longer, but it will improve the quality of life over a longer period of time and will postpone some of the unpleasant effects of aging, such as fatigue and muscle."
Although it cannot be said with absolute certainty, that raising your DHEA levels with supplements will prevent oncoming disease, research certainly suggests this. The best way to know how much to take is to have your DHEA levels checked by a physician. If you are under 40 you may not need additional DHEA. There are some contraindications for taking supplements; being pregnant, nursing, or having prior ovarian, adrenal or thyroid tumors. Side effects include acne, irritability, fatigue and hirsutism in women. Side effects only occur with doses over 50mg per day. Normal dosages appear quite safe.