The hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is generated largely by the adrenal glands.
The hormones cortisol and aldosterone are produced by your adrenal glands, which are located on top of your kidneys.
DHEA levels, unlike these other hormones, decrease considerably as you become older.
When you're at the age of 20, your DHEA levels are at their maximum, and then they gradually drop by around 10% every decade.
By the time you're in your 70s or 80s, your DHEA levels may only be 10 to 20% of what they were when you were younger.
DHEA supplements are available in both oral and topical forms.
Some individuals believe it can help slow down the aging process, but there isn't enough data to back up these claims at this time.
DHEA supplementation may be beneficial for illnesses such as:
Vaginal atrophy due to osteoporosis
More high-quality clinical trials, however, are needed to fully comprehend these advantages.
Continue reading to learn what science has discovered thus far about DHEA, if you should take it, and what the possible dangers are.
DHEA is a cholesterol-derived steroid hormone.
Your adrenal glands create the majority of it, although your gonads, adipose tissue, brain, and skin all generate tiny quantities.
It serves a variety of functions in your body, but not all of them are fully known.
DHEA may be converted into estrogen and testosterone, the main female and male hormones.
It also acts as a neurosteroid, causing neurons in your central nervous system to become more excitable.
This influence on your neurological system may help you perform better in sports, but more research is needed to completely grasp its significance.
DHEA is listed as a prohibited drug by both the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADE) and the National Collegiate Athlete Association (NCAA).
DHEA levels peak at the age of 20 and then decline to less than 20% of their highest value during the next 40 to 60 years.
Low levels have been related to a variety of ailments, including depression and sexual dysfunction.
Synthetic DHEA is available in the form of oral pills or topical lotions.
Sometimes they're advertised as anti-aging vitamins.
However, the role of DHEA in aging isn't fully known, and there's no convincing evidence that supplementing with DHEA slows aging.
What are the supposed advantages of using DHEA supplements?
The following are some of the alleged advantages of using a DHEA supplement.
DHEA deficiency has been associated to poor bone density.
However, research on the benefits of DHEA supplementation on bone health has yielded conflicting results.
A review of papers published in 2019
DHEA supplementation may protect bone density in elderly women but not in males, according to Trusted Source.
More study is needed to determine whether DHEA medication is superior than estrogen therapy.
DHEA does not appear to increase bone density in young people.
Is it true that DHEA pills can boost testosterone levels?
DHEA can be converted into testosterone by your body.
It's possible that taking a DHEA supplement can boost your testosterone levels.
Taking 50 milligrams (mg) of DHEA per day increased free testosterone levels in middle-aged people doing high-intensity interval training, according to a 2013 study.
When it comes to DHEA and depression, there is still a lot of mystery.
According to a review of research published in 2014 by Trusted Source, DHEA may help cure depression that is moderate or resistant to standard treatment.
The researchers, on the other hand, based their findings on three studies with tiny sample sizes.
To make any conclusive findings, additional study with more individuals is required.
The adrenal glands create the majority of DHEA in your body.
Cortisol and aldosterone are also produced by your adrenal glands.
When your adrenal glands don't generate enough of these hormones, you have adrenal insufficiency.
In patients with adrenal insufficiency, taking a DHEA supplement may assist improve their quality of life.
DHEA has been proven to have a favorable impact on mood, subjective health, and sexual health, according to ResearchTrusted Source.
Low DHEA produces a variety of symptoms, including tiredness, impaired focus, and an overall feeling of ill health.
A DHEA-sulfate serum test is the most accurate technique to determine if your DHEA levels are low.
DHEA supplementation may lead to a minor but substantial improvement in the body composition of older men, according to Trusted Source.
In younger individuals, there is no indication that it can contribute to muscle building or fat reduction.
Vaginal atrophy is a weakening of the vaginal wall caused by the lack of estrogen during or after menopause.
DHEA may help with symptoms of vaginal atrophy, according to Trusted Source, but further study is needed to completely understand these effects.
DHEA doses of up to 50 mg per day are commonly utilized in studies.
The long-term safety has yet to be determined.
The maximum dosage of DHEA utilized in the study was 1600 mg per day for 28 days.
The longest high-quality studyTrusted Source to yet lasted two years.
The following are some of the negative consequences of DHEA supplementation:
male-pattern hair growth in women with lower HDL cholesterol
skin that is greasy
DHEA should not be taken by anyone who have liver issues.
DHEA is broken down in the liver.
DHEA should not be used by anyone who have a history of liver issues.
DHEA should be avoided by anyone on hormone replacement treatment or who has a documented hypersensitivity to it.
DHEA may interact with the following medications:
estrogen, selective serotonin, reuptake inhibitors antipsychotics lithium phenothiazines carbamazepine (SSRIs)
Valproic acid is a kind of valproic acid.
Although there is some evidence that DHEA may be beneficial to certain groups, the majority of the study is still inconclusive.
Because of its potential for significant adverse effects and a lack of evidence to support its usage, the Mayo Clinic advises against using DHEA.
Because DHEA supplements are a prohibited chemical by WADA and the NCAA, you should avoid them if you're a drug-tested athlete.
If you're thinking about using DHEA, speak with your doctor first.
Taking a DHEA supplement may cause undesirable side effects by increasing testosterone or estrogen levels.
DHEA, a hormone generated by the adrenal glands, decreases as you get older.
It serves a variety of roles in your body, although many of them are yet unknown.
Many sites, like the Mayo Clinic, advise against using DHEA supplements since there is little evidence that they are beneficial for most individuals and they can have undesirable side effects.
DHEA, or dehydroepiandrosterone, is a steroid hormone generated naturally in men's adrenal glands, brain, and testes.
It then circulates as dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S or DHEA-sulfate) in the circulation, where it is converted to testosterone and other male sex hormones known as androgens.
DHEA is essential for a young man's development and plays a role in a variety of puberty-related male sexual traits, such as oily skin, body odor, and pubic hair growth (Webb, 2008).
Despite the fact that DHEA is the most abundant steroid hormone in the human body and is frequently referred to as the "fountain of youth hormone," a man's supply is finite (Webb, 2008).
DHEA levels peak between the ages of 20 and 30, after which they begin to decrease.
DHEA hormone levels are 10–20 percent of what they were when a guy was young by the time he is 70–80 years old (Neunzig, 2014).
When their DHEA levels fall below a certain threshold, some men turn to DHEA tablets as a kind of replacement treatment (NIH, 2020).
There are several claims made concerning DHEA's possible health advantages for males.
DHEA supplements have been claimed for its potential to improve sexual performance, increase energy, treat adrenal insufficiency, and control body fat and body composition over the years.
However, research on the advantages of DHEA has yielded conflicting findings, and large, randomized trials are required to validate DHEA's potential health benefits (Rutkowski, 2014).
Discuss the possible advantages of DHEA with your healthcare practitioner before starting it.
Because DHEA converts to sex hormones, it's understandable that men would seek out the supplementary version to improve their sex life.
Several modest studies have shown that DHEA can help with erectile dysfunction (ED), a condition in which a man is unable to obtain or maintain an adequate erection for sexual satisfaction.
Men with ED who took DHEA daily for six months had a better capacity to develop or sustain an erection, according to a research published in Urology; however, it had no effect on testosterone levels (Reiter, 1999).
DHEA has not been found to aid with ED in other trials, therefore additional study is needed.
DHEA has not shown any established advantage for physical performance in terms of gains in muscular strength, aerobic capacity, lean body mass, or testosterone levels in males, according to the NIH's Dietary Supplements for Exercise and Athletic Performance study (NIH, 2019).
DHEA's possible impact on the immune system and immunological function is little understood.
The outcomes of the few immunological disorders for which DHEA has been tried, such as Sjogren syndrome, have not been encouraging (Hartkamp, 2008).
There isn't enough evidence to say whether DHEA can assist with other immunological diseases including ulcerative colitis, SLE, or Crohn's disease (NIH, 2020).
To assess the safety of DHEA supplementation, more study is needed.
DHEA is considered safe to consume at regular dosages (50 mg per day) for less than two years, according to the National Institutes of Health; it is possible hazardous if taken at larger doses or for longer periods of time.
The majority of DHEA supplement side effects are minor, however they might include acne and stomach discomfort.
Some men may experience discomfort or enlargement in their breasts (NIH, 2020).
People with depression, bipolar illness, diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, and prostate cancer may be at risk from DHEA supplementation.
They also provide a list of possible interactions with other medicines.
Seek medical counsel if you're taking any medications that might interfere with each other, such as antidepressants, diabetic meds, blood thinners, testosterone supplements, and others (NIH, 2020).
The usual daily dose of DHEA is around 50–100 mg by mouth, depending on the individual requirement and formula (NIH, 2020).
If you use DHEA supplements for more than two years or consume more than 100 mg per day, you may be at risk.
DHEA supplements are used for a variety of women's health concerns, including vaginal atrophy, in addition to men's health.
Vaginal atrophy is a disorder in which the vaginal walls shrink after menopause, which begins around the age of 40 or 50 years and represents the normal reduction in a woman's reproductive hormones.
Vaginal dryness or inflammation of the vaginal walls can cause discomfort and urinary symptoms during sexual intercourse.
In 2016, the FDA authorized Prasterone (brand name Intrarosa) implants, which can help postmenopausal women lessen discomfort during sex.
DHEA is the active component in prasterone (FDA, 2016).
DHEA may also have anti-aging effects, which might be beneficial to women.
DHEA supplementation has been shown to enhance the look of women's skin after menopause in several studies (NIH, 2020).
DHEA supplementation is not recommended for women who are pregnant or may become pregnant, or who have breast cancer or ovarian cancer.
After the age of 30, men's testosterone levels begin to decrease at a rate of 10% each decade.
Many men seek to counteract the negative effects of decreasing testosterone levels by using DHEA supplements.
Although research is limited, using DHEA to boost testosterone production may have the following benefits:
Improved sexual function and mood Improved mood and memory Decreased fat mass and obesity prevention
Improved skin health Improved athletic performance Boosted energy Boosted sex desire Boosted sperm production Boosted muscular mass and bone density
Some proponents claim that increasing testosterone production with DHEA can help cure erectile dysfunction.
DHEA is also frequently promoted as a testosterone replacement treatment option.
There is no evidence that supports using DHEA supplements to improve exercise or sports performance, according to the National Institutes of Health's Office of Dietary Supplements.
However, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the World Anti-Doping Agency have declared it a prohibited drug in sports (WADA).
So yet, there isn't any scientific evidence that using DHEA supplements can boost testosterone levels.
DHEA may assist boost testosterone production and provide a variety of advantages, according to many modest studies (although a similar number of studies have reported the opposite).
For example, some research suggest that using DHEA supplements might boost testosterone levels, which can aid with workout performance.
Eight middle-aged men were given a DHEA supplement the night before completing a high-intensity interval training exercise program, according to a research published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology in 2013.
The usage of DHEA supplements appeared to enhance testosterone levels and prevent them from dropping during exercise, according to the findings.
A short study published in the journal Urology in 1999 looked into the use of DHEA supplements.
For the study, 40 males from an erectile dysfunction clinic were randomly assigned to one of two groups: the first received a DHEA supplement every day for six months, while the second received a placebo.
Although individuals who took DHEA supplements improved their ability to obtain and sustain an erection, the study's authors point out that DHEA had no effect on testosterone levels.
While little is known regarding the safety of using DHEA supplements to boost testosterone for a long time or on a regular basis, there are several negative effects connected with DHEA supplements.
These are some of the negative effects:
Acne and greasy skin are two common skin problems.
Hair loss is a common problem
High blood pressure, rapid heartbeat
HDL cholesterol (the "good" kind) is being depleted
It is not suggested to take DHEA supplements in large quantities for long periods of time.
DHEA supplements should only be used under the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional, and hormone levels should be monitored on a regular basis.
DHEA supplements may also be hazardous to those who have or are at risk for hormone-sensitive diseases including prostate cancer, as well as those who have or are at risk for depression, bipolar disorder, diabetes, heart disease, and liver disease.
Certain medicines may interact with DHEA.
Keep in mind that nutritional supplements haven't been thoroughly evaluated for safety, and they're mostly unregulated.
The product may give dosages that differ from the quantity indicated for each plant in some circumstances.
Other components, such as metals, may be present in the product in other situations.
While such dangers exist when choosing any dietary supplement, they may be magnified when selecting products that include a range of substances and are advertised for bodybuilding or weight reduction.
Supplement safety among pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and people with medical problems or using medicines has also not been proven.
Given the possible health hazards, utilizing DHEA supplements for any purpose should be done with caution.
If you're thinking of using DHEA to boost your testosterone, see your doctor first.
Because there is more research to support testosterone replacement treatment with verified low testosterone levels, it may be worth looking into as an option.
Self-treatment, as well as avoiding or postponing regular medical care, can have significant repercussions.
DHEA may help decrease belly obesity and insulin resistance, two characteristics associated to type 2 diabetes, according to several small studies (Villareal, 2004).
Other research, on the other hand, have found that DHEA is ineffective for weight reduction and obesity treatment (Jedrzejuk, 2003).
To find a link between DHEA and obesity or weight reduction, more study is needed.
Immune function is aided by DHEA.
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