- DHEA has attracted a lot of buzz and interest lately, especially due to it’s wide variety of benefits to health and wellness. What is DHEA, and what does it do?
- In this article, we explore the benefits of taking DHEA supplements, its dosage and side effects.
Many people believe that the key to a good life, looking and feeling better involves having balanced hormones. While hormonal balance can happen naturally, taking supplements helps us balance our hormones.
DHEA is a hormone that occurs naturally in the body, and is also available as a supplement. It affects levels of other hormones in our body, and has been extensively studied especially in relation to increasing sexual function, hormonal balance, bone health, decreased body fat among others.
Should you take DHEA?
In this article, we look at benefits, dosage and side effects of taking DHEA.
What is DHEA?
DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone), also known as androstenolone is a steroid hormone produced in the adrenal glands (just above the kidney), gonads and the brain.
There are no food sources of DHEA.
Taking DHEA supplements increases its levels in the body. Some of it is also converted to sex hormones estrogen and testosterone (4). This affects sex hormones and function which we’ll see below.
Symptoms of DHEA Deficiency
Low levels of DHEA may cause these symptoms:
- Decreased sex drive – especially in older adults
- Erectile dysfunction in men
- Thinning of vaginal tissue – especially in older adults
- Nausea and vomiting
- Unexplained weight loss
Benefits of DHEA
DHEA offers several benefits
1) DHEA Improves Sexual Function, Libido And Fertility
Since DHEA affects reproductive hormone, it’s no surprise that it affects sexual function. Studies show that DHEA may increase sexual function in both men and women, especially in people with sexual problems (5, 6, 7).
2) DHEA Can Help Correct Adrenal Problems
3) DHEA May Help Treat Depression
Some studies show that DHEA may be effective in treating mild depression and people with low DHEA levels (12).
4) DHEA May Help in Fat Loss
However more research on this is needed in broader audiences.
5) Other Benefits of DHEA
- Increases testosterone levels – even though DHEA increases testosterone levels, it’s not been conclusively linked to increase in muscle mass and strength. Studies on this show mixed results.
- It may help improve skin in older people
It may help increase bone density – people with low levels of DHEA show lower bone density and susceptibility to bone fractures. Taking DHEA supplements may improve this especially in women (15)
DHEA Dosage and Side Effects
The most common dose is 25-50 mg per day. 25 mg / day has been studied safely for 2 years, while 50 mg/day has been used safely for 1 year. Dosages higher than 50 mg/day are not recommended.
Minor side effects include increased hair growth in the armpits and pubic area, acne and greasy skin.
Do not use DHEA if you have:
- Cancers affected by sex hormones
- Heart problems, liver disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, thyroid problems, polycystic ovary syndrome, and a history of clotting problems should not use DHEA
- History of clotting problems
Because DEHA is a powerful hormone, it’s not recommended for children or women who are pregnant or breast-feeding.
DHEA is a hormone produced mainly by the adrenal glands, and affects levels of other hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone.
It’s been touted as an anti-aging, youth hormone, which has attracted a lot of attention and research as to its benefits.
DHEA offers a wide range of benefits, and is generally safe in doses of 25-50 mg/day.