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What is DHEA?

8th January 2020

DHEA is a hormone that is produced by the adrenal gland, and also the testes. This chemical is later transformed into either estrogen if you’re a woman, or testosterone if you’re a man. While abundantly produced by those of younger years, as you start to age, after 40 your level of testosterone decreases by 1 to 1.5% per year.

Can DHEA reverse this trend? It turns out that DHEA is the building block of testosterone. It helps build muscle mass as well as increase sexual vigour. Much like testosterone, it peaks while you are younger and slowly declines as you age.

Testosterone's peak is around 25 years old. Thereafter, it declines at a rate of around 2% per year. By the time you’re in your 40s, you can begin to really feel the effects. By 80 years old, you only have 15% of the testosterone that you enjoyed during your 20s. By the time you hit 90, you only retain approximately 5% of the same level you did when you were 25.

That is a significant drop, but the good news is you can supplement to achieve the benefits lost by diminished production! According to this US government website, it's used for slowing or reversing ageing, improving thinking skills in older people, and slowing the progress of Alzheimer’s disease.

… is a hormone that is naturally made by the human body. It can be made in the laboratory from chemicals found in wild yam and soy. However, you cannot make it from these chemicals, so simply eating wild yam or soy will not increase levels. Don’t be misled by wild yam and soy products labeled as “natural.”

It is used for slowing or reversing aging, improving thinking skills in older people, and slowing the progress of Alzheimer’s disease.

Athletes and other people use it to increase muscle mass, strength, and energy. But its use is banned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). It is also used by men for erectile dysfunction (ED), and by healthy women and women who have low levels of certain hormones to improve well-being and sexuality.

The reason for the NCAA’s ban is that it is a known precursor for testosterone, and is seen as a cheat for performance. However, taking it is certainly not illegal.

DHEA protects your immune system

Another study was performed on elderly men (average age of 63 years old) to discover what benefits of DHEA were possible. The conclusion was that it improved the immune system and increased the number and strength of immune cells.

An important study published in 1997 demonstrated the effects on the immune systems of nine healthy “age-advanced men” (mean age: 63). The men were given 50 mg daily for 20 weeks, after a two-week treatment with a placebo. The results showed it 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.

DHEA is a natural sex drive booster

This benefit isn’t just for the men. The benefits apply to women as well, especially in the realm of sexuality. In a study on sexuality in older women, they were found to have increased libido.

The glad tidings are that there is a biochemical solution for slowing, stopping, and even reversing the decline of libido that occurs with age. Although prior studies have indicated that enhancement of libido is plausible, until now there has been no firm answer. But with the recent publication of a major French study led by world-renowned neurosteroid researcher Baulieu, the concept of “sunset” sexuality is shattered.1 What Baulieu and colleagues have found is that supplementing orally with 50 mg of the adrenal steroid dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) can weave together a panoply of measurable effects.

DHEA for increasing muscle mass

Want to increase your muscle size and improve your exercise workouts? DHEA is a natural method for increasing testosterone, by providing your body with the building blocks necessary for producing male hormones at a higher level. Testosterone is an important ingredient in building and maintaining muscle mass and being deficient in testosterone can result in reduced muscle mass.

Testosterone for bone density

Bone density is tied to testosterone, both in men and women. Higher testosterone is associated with greater bone mineral density

In the setting of the low estradiol levels found in older women, circulating T levels were associated with bone density.

Testosterone supplements

If you are deficient in testosterone, your doctor may prescribe Testogel if you are a man. Testosterone gel can raise your testosterone levels potentially alleviating some symptoms of having low testosterone.

If you are a woman, speak to your doctor about potential hormone replacement therapy for women, or consider changing your diet to help safely boost testosterone production.