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The Many Health Benefits of DHEA Supplementation!

The Many Health Benefits of DHEA Supplementation!

DHEA is vital to health

Dehydroepiandrosterone (pronounced dee-hi-dro-ep-i-an-dro-stair-own), or more commonly called DHEA, is the most abundant steroid found in the human blood stream. It is also one of the most reliable bio-markers of aging.

DHEA is secreted by the adrenal glands, and also produced in the gonads (testes and ovaries), and brain. It is sometimes called the "mother of all hormones" because it is the building block from which estrogen and testosterone are produced, and is vital to health.

Thousands of scientific articles have been published on DHEA during the last 50 years, but a clear picture of its role in human health didn't begin to emerge until the 1990's.

DHEA exhibits an amazingly wide diversity of effects

DHEA has been reported to have anti-diabetic, anti-dementia, anti-obesity, anti-carcinogenic, anti-stress, immune-enhancing, anti-viral and anti-bacterial, anti-aging and anti-heart disease effects. 1 2 3 In addition, research has shown that DHEA:

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  • is an antioxidant
  • is a hormone regulator (it helps regulate the thyroid & pituitary glands, and enhances thymus gland function)
  • decreases cholesterol
  • stimulates the production of human growth hormone
  • boosts immunity by stimulating killer cell activity
  • increases the sensitivity of cells to insulin
  • assists in returning the body to a balanced state after a stress reaction
  • improves cognitive function, bone formation and libido
  • enhances mood by increasing the brain's serotonin levels

DHEA levels decrease with age

Your DHEA levels vary throughout your life, and naturally decline as you get older. We produce large amounts of DHEA when we're young, and research shows that children's brains require a significant amount of DHEA to grow and develop. DHEA levels peak at age 25 and decline at a rate of about 2% a year, thereafter. It isn't until the mid-forties, however, that we being to feel the effects of lower DHEA levels. By age 80, most people's DHEA blood levels are only about 15% of where they were during the 20s. By the time we're 90, DHEA levels are down to 5%.4

According to Michael Galitzer, M.D., co-founder of the American Health Institute in Los Angeles, California, symptoms of a DHEA deficiency include: poor memory, poor resistance to noise, anxiety, decreased libido (especially in women), decreased armpit and pubic hair, and dry skin, eyes or hair.5

Very low levels of DHEA have been linked to cardiovascular disease in men, some cancers, trauma, and stress; low levels are also associated with old age, particularly in the unwell, institutionalized elderly. Research has also shown a correlation between low DHEA levels and a declining immune system. Also, Alzheimer patients have exhibited low DHEA levels, when compared to their healthy counterparts.

Other factors that contribute to decreased DHEA levels

  • disease
  • sugar
  • nicotine
  • caffeine
  • alcohol
  • nutritional imbalances
  • a vegetarian diet low in cholesterol and healthy fats 6

DHEA supplementation

Replacement of low levels of DHEA through regular supplementation has been proposed as a way to indirectly slow down the aging process and improve quality of life. In addition, DHEA is known to stabilize nerve-cell growth and is being tested in Alzheimer's patients. And since you can't obtain DHEA from food, supplementation is recommended in order to maintain adequate levels for optimal health.7

In animal studies, replacing DHEA has had startling anti-aging effects. Large doses of the hormone have restored older animals' strength and vigor.

How does DHEA work in the body?

Although it's still unclear exactly how DHEA works, scientists believe this is what happens: Circulating through the blood stream in an inactive form called DHEA sulfate, this hormone becomes active when it comes in contact with a specific cell or tissue that "needs" it. Consequently, the sulfate is removed and it is then converted to androgens and estrogens.

One of DHEA's most over-looked, but vital roles may be its ability to counter-balance cortisol — when DHEA is low, cortisol levels are high and vice-versa. Cortisol, one of the few hormones that usually increases with age, induces stress. And when it circulates at high levels for long periods of time it may affect many bodily functions, including damaging insulin resistance and the endocrine system, and the hypothalamus. Maintaining healthy levels of DHEA for aging and stressed individuals may be its most important role due to its ability to lower cortisol levels.8 9

Recent studies highlight DHEA's role as "molecular superpower"

DHEA is currently being used in the fight against HIV, cancer and senile dementia. Here are a few study highlights:

Immune protector

An important DHEA study published in 1997 demonstrated the effects of DHEA on the immune systems of nine healthy "age-advanced men" (mean age: 63). The men were given 50 mg of DHEA daily for 20 weeks, after a two-week treatment with a placebo. The results showed that DHEA rejuvenated the immune system by increasing the number and potency of natural killer cells, which normally decrease (in numbers and potency) with age — and which are a key part of the immune system, constantly on the look out for viruses and cancer cells. There were no adverse effects noted from the DHEA.10

Comparable findings were reported in a similar study with eleven postmenopausal women.11

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This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always consult with a physician before embarking on a dietary supplement program.

References

  1. Rudman, D. et al (1990) "Plasma dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate in nursing home men" J Ann Geriatr Soc 38: 421-27.

  2. Kalimi, M. et al (1994) "Anti-glucocorticoid effects of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)" Molec Cell Biochem 131: 99-104.

  3. Regelson, W. & Kalimi, M. (1994) "Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) - the multifunctional steroid" Ann NY Acad Sci 719: 564-75.

  4. Regelson, William, M.D., & Colman, Carol. The Superhormone Promise. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996.

  5. Alternative Medicine, edited by Trivieri, Larry, Jr. & Anderson, John W., Celestial Arts, Berkeley, CA. 2002.

  6. Ibid.

  7. Cherniske S. The DHEA Breakthrough. New York: Ballantine Books, 1996.

  8. Sears, B. The Anti-Aging Zone. NY: Regan Brooks. 1999.

  9. Dilman, V. & Dean, W. The Neuroendocrine Theory of Aging and Degenerative Disease. Pensacola: Center for Bio-Gerontology. 1992.

  10. Khorram, O. et al (1997) "Activation of immune function by dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in age-advanced men" J. Gerontol 52A: M1-M7

  11. Casson, P. et al (1993) "Oral dehydroepiandrosterone in physiologic doses modulates immune function in postmenopausal women" Am J Obstet Gynecol 169: 1536-39.

  12. Jakubowicz, D. et al (1995) "Effect of dehydroepiandrosterone on cyclic-guanosine monophosphate in age-advanced men" Ann NY Acad Sci 774: 312-15.

  13. Bates, G. et al (1995) "DHEA attenuates study induced declines in insulin sensitivity in postmenopausal women" Ann NY Acad Sci 774: 291-3.

  14. Morales, A. et al (1994) "Effects of replacement dose of dehydroepiandrosterone in men and women of advancing age" J Clin Endocrinol Metab 78: 1360-67.

  15. Fowkes, The Independent, Sept. 1, 1989, pp. 6

  16. Rudman, D. et al (1990) "Plasma dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate in nursing home men" J Ann Geriatr Soc 38: 421-27.

  17. Alternative Medicine, edited by Trivieri, Larry, Jr. & Anderson, John W., Celestial Arts, Berkeley, CA. 2002.

  18. Labrie, F. et al (1997) "Effect of 12 month dehyroepiandrosterone replacement therapy on bone, vagina, and endometrium in postmenopausal women" J Clin Endrocrinol Metab 82: 3498-3505.

  19. Casson, P. et al (1993) "Oral dehydroepiandrosterone in physiologic doses modulates immune function in postmenopausal women" Am J Obstet Gynecol 169: 1536-39.

  20. Morales, A. et al (1994) "Effects of replacement dose of dehydroepiandrosterone in men and women of advancing age" J Clin Endocrinol Metab 78: 1360-67.

  21. Bloch, M. et al (1999) "Dehydroepiandrosterone treatment of midlife dysthymia" Biol Psychiatry 45: 1533-41

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13 Comments

DHEA has changed my life. I feel better, stronger and better sense of well being. It has improved my libido and I dont get colds as often. I supplement at 200 mg a day, but I am a large person, 6’4, 245.

Informative.Bio-identical preparations and their source will be appreciated.Thank you

Excellant article. I have been taking DHEA for the last 3 yrs. I will pass it on to all E-mail buddies. Thanks a lot

How much DHEA is suitable for a 78 year old man.  Just ordered your DHEA 10mm spray.  How many sprays (or 25mm pills) would be beneficial.  I’m 5-6 and weight about 149.

Our pharmacy compounds with DHEA for many women.  Through saliva testing at ZRT laboratory, many of our customers find they are low in DHEA and we combine this with their testosterone, progesterone, and/or Biest transdermal creams.  It is an important part of balancing a woman’s hormones.

Is DHEA safe for a person with Schiophrenia?
Is it safe for a person with diabetes to take DHEA? Would like to know.

It is helpful for diabetes. I don’t know about Schizophrenia.

Does Dhea cause night sweets?

Nicholas,

Have not heard that about DHEA.  Typically, DHEA is taken in the morning, which is when your body would normally produce it.  If you did experience night sweats and you attribute it to DHEA, you are probably taking to much.  As with all supplements, you want to start with a very low dose and work your way up.

Hope this helps…

any idea what is the difference between keto and DHEA ? it is a metabolite ? which is better to take ? I read on http://www.dheaforwomen.com that is the same, is that right ?

Thanks for the info on DEA,I will take in the AM. My dose is only 50mg daily.

Yes, 7-keto DHEA is a metabolite of DHEA. The claimed advantage is that 7-keto can not be converted into testosterone. So, for people who want benefits of DHEA without the testosterone it is an option. However, the research on 7-keto is not as extensive as on DHEA.

A personal story: I had low blood levels of DHEA and tried many times to take it but it would make me feel anxiety. So, I used 7-keto for many years hoping to get, at least some, of the benefits of DHEA and offset my low blood levels of DHEA. But then I heard from Dr. Jonathan Wright, MD that DHEA taken orally makes a first pass through the liver and, in some people, can be converted into other things that aren’t DHEA. Whereas, if you take your DHEA as a cream or spray, rubbed into the skin, then it does not have this problem. I tried it, and I was able to take DHEA this way without any of the anxiety side effects. And now my blood levels of DHEA are perfect. Now I use the DHEA Spray from Health Freedom Nutrition: http://www.hfn-usa.com/product/dhea-spray-his/Product-Specials-and-Sale-Items

I take Nature Sunshine’s 25 mg DHEA-F, daily in the morning and have done so for several years.  Recently a naturopath told me that DHEA downstreams and they’re not sure what it turns into in the body.  Because of this info, I stopped taking it for several months.  I was tired, memory issues, depression and just overall ill feeling.  I started taking it again and I feel so much better.  Are there cancer related issues to taking DHEA?  Where can I find the cream DHEA?  Is this a safer alternative to the capsules?
Thank you.

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