If your goal is to look younger, feel better, and improve your body composition, read on! The “youth hormone” DHEA has many potential benefits but does also have some noted contraindications so read the following thoroughly, consult with a healthcare practitioner and do your own due diligence.
What is DHEA?
DHEA, dehydroepiandrosterone, is an adrenal steroid hormone in the body. It is made by the adrenal glands and is then converted to androgens, estrogens and other hormones. These are the hormones that regulate fat and mineral metabolism, sexual and reproductive function, and energy levels. DHEA levels increase until our mid to late 20′s then gradually start to decline. DHEA production in the body may also decrease with the use of certain medications such as insulin and corticosteroids.
What are the benefits of DHEA?
According to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database,
DHEA is stated to be possibly effective for these conditions:
- Aging Skin – Taking DHEA orally seems to increase epidermal thickness, sebum production, skin hydration, and decrease facial skin pigmentation in elderly men and women
- Erectile Dysfunction – Taking DHEA orally for 24 weeks seems to improve ED, orgasmic function, sexual desire, and overall sexual satisfaction in men with erectile dysfunction secondary to hypertension. It may not be as beneficial in those with diabetes or neurological conditions.
- Osteoporosis – Taking DHEA orally 50-100 mg per day seems to improve bone mineral density (BMD) in older women and men with osteoporosis or osteopenia.
- Schizophrenia – Taking DHEA orally seems to improve both negative and positive symptoms in patients with schizophrenia. It may be more effective in women than in men.
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) – Taking DHEA orally in conjunction with conventional treatment may help reduce SLE disease activity, frequency of flare-ups, and corticosteroid doses needed.
DHEA is also thought to contribute to a sense of well-being when used by those with adrenal and/or androgen insufficiency. In one placebo-controlled trial, DHEA supplementation for a 6 month period supported healthy physical and psychological outlook in men and women at ages 40-70 years. It may also support lean body mass in men and postmenopausal women. In another study, DHEA supplementation supported healthy male sexual function.
What are the side effects of DHEA?
Possible side effects include hair loss, hair growth on the face (in women), aggressiveness, irritability and increased levels of estrogen. Calcium channel blockers may increase DHEA levels and supplementation should be avoided by those using calcium channel blockers. DHEA should not be used if pregnant or nursing, by those under the age of 18 or used by those with healthy levels of DHEA. Anyone with a history of hormone-related cancer should definitely avoid DHEA due to the probability of increased estrogen levels. Anyone with liver problems or disease should avoid DHEA supplementation.
DHEA supplementation can certainly be beneficial but it is highly recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before supplementing and it should be monitored regularly with lab work. There are several different strengths of DHEA from 2 Mg, 5 Mg, 10 Mg, 25 Mg, 50 Mg and 100 Mg – always use the lowest dose appropriate for you. View a variety of options including sublingual drops, and buy DHEA here.
If you don’t feel DHEA is appropriate for you, it may be possible to increase the bodies natural production of DHEA with regular exercise and Calorie restriction. Calorie restriction is associated with a longer life span and the increase in DHEA production may be partially responsible.
An alternative is 7-keto (3beta-acetyl-7-oxo-DHEA), a DHEA metabolite. Dr. Oz called 7-keto a “belly-blasting supplement“. 7-keto has many of the same benefits with the exception that it does not convert to sex hormones in the body. 7- keto DHEA will not convert to DHEA and will not raise blood levels of DHEA in the body. In a double-blind, placebo controlled study by The Chicago Center for Clinical Research results indicate that 3beta-acetyl-7-oxo-DHEA is safe and well tolerated in normal healthy men at doses up to 200 mg/d for 4 weeks.
The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database does state that, “There is preliminary evidence that 7-keto-DHEA might significantly decrease body weight and fat composition in obese females. More evidence is needed to rate 7-keto-DHEA for this use.” It also appears that 7-keto may support thyroid function by increasing T3 levels in obese patients.
If you think 7-keto might be for you, you can purchase it here. Again, do your research, consult with your healthcare practitioner and use the lowest dose appropriate for you.