Dehydroepiandrosterone, or simply known as DHEA, is a hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands. We can look at it as a precursor to male and femalesex hormones.
As we get older, we produce less and less DHEA.Testosterone levels are also known to drop as we age, so we can seethe correlation between declining DHEA levels and diminishingtestosterone levels. It's important to note that DHEA is not anutrient or vitamin -- it's a hormone.
DHEA has its pros and cons when itcomes to supplementing with this hormone. Research is conflicting and it can be difficult to track the current stance onDHEA. Some of the potential benefits of DHEA are:
- Improving sexual function in women and men
- Cognitive functioning
- Cortisol-lowering effect
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
The real issue is that there are fartoo many conflicting studies on supplementation usage of DHEA toestablish if this is a useful hormone to add to your arsenal.By staying within the recommended dosage, side effects should be minimal.
DHEA appears to be safe in dosagesbetween 25mg to 200 mg. Always consult your physician for advice whenit comes to supplementation.
Testosterone and estrogen:
In the bodybuilding world, testosteroneand estrogen are two hormones that stand out. Menare constantly trying to increase their testosterone levels whileminimizing how much is aromatized into estrogen. Highertestosterone levels are associated with muscular gain, increasedlibido, and an increase in overall well-being. Essentially,testosterone is king. How does oral consumption of DHEA effecttestosterone levels?
It was thought that supplementing witha hormone that is a precursor to testosterone would yield a testosterone serumrise. However, research has shown thatsupplementing with DHEA has no such effect.
"In 10 young men (23 +/- 4 yr old), ingestion of 50 mg of DHEA increased serum androstenedione concentrations 150% within 60 min (P < 0.05) butdid not affect serum testosterone and estrogen concentrations ."
"An additional 19 men (23 +/- 1 yr old) participated in an 8-wk whole body resistance-training program and ingested DHEA (150 mg/day, n = 9) or placebo (n = 10) during weeks 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, and 8. Serum androstenedione concentrations were significantly (P < 0.05) increased in the DHEA-treated group after 2 and 5 wk. Serum concentrations of free and total testosterone, estrone, estradiol, estriol, lipids, and liver transaminases were unaffected by supplementation." (Brown GA, 1999)
This shows that supplementing withDHEA for performance enhancement proves to be futile.
So far you're thinking: "DHEA is awaste to supplement with." Although you may be right, DHEA doeshave metabolites that have a little more legitimacy when it comesto performance enhancement. This metabolite is known as 7-KetoDHEA , or simply 7-Keto. Although further research is needed, onestudy showed that 7-Keto DHEA has the potential to:
- Increase fat loss when diet and training are efficient
- Favorable body composition changes
- Increase in thyroid activity
" Our results indicate that one hour ofcross-training three times per week supplemented with 200 mg of 7-Keto(TM)per day yields a significant reductionin both body weight and body fat .Furthermore, 7-Keto(TM) elevated T3significantly , which may indicate aneffect on basal metabolism." (Carlon M.Colker, 1999)
Author's note: Why would we be skeptical? This test was done on 30 overweight individuals. Of course when overweight people begin to exercise they will lose weight. Also,this study doesn't note dietary intake.
Checking your DHEA Levels - Do I Have Low DHEA Levels?
As previously mentioned, DHEA is ahormone produced in your body, thus you can have a physician checkand monitor your DHEA levels within your body. Some health risks oflow DHEA levels include, but aren't limited to:
- ischemic heart disease
- endothelial dysfunction
- bone loss
- inflammatory disease
- sexual dysfunction
(Traish AM, 2011)
Typical blood levels of DHEA canfluctuate by gender and age.
"Typical normal ranges for femalesare:
- Ages 18 - 19: 145 - 395 ug/dL
- Ages 20 - 29: 65 - 380 ug/dL
- Ages 30 - 39: 45 - 270 ug/dL
- Ages 40 - 49: 32 - 240 ug/dL
- Ages 50 - 59: 26 - 200 ug/dL
- Ages 60 - 69: 13 - 130 ug/dL
- Ages 69 and older: 17 - 90 ug/dL
Typical normal ranges for males are:
- Ages 18 - 19: 108 - 441 ug/dL
- Ages 20 - 29: 280 - 640 ug/dL
- Ages 30 - 39: 120 - 520 ug/dL
- Ages 40 - 49: 95 - 530 ug/dL
- Ages 50 - 59: 70 - 310 ug/dL
- Ages 60 - 69: 42 - 290 ug/dL
- Ages 69 and older: 28 - 175 ug/dL
Note: ug/dL= microgram per deciliter"
Brown GA, V. M. (1999, December). Effect of oral DHEA on serum testosterone and adaptations toresistance training in young men. Retrieved December 19, 2012,from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10601178
Carlon M. Colker, G. C. (1999). Double-Blind Study Evaluating the Effects of Exercise Plus3-Acetyl-7-oxo-dehydroepiandrosterone on Body Composition and theEndocrine System in Overweight Adults. Retrieved December 18,2012, from http://www.asep.org/asep/asep/colker2.pdf
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA).(n.d.). Retrieved December 19, 2012, from http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=21678
DHEA-Sulfate Test. (n.d.).Retrieved December 19, 2012, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003717.htm
Traish AM, K. H. (2011, November 11). Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)--a precursor steroid or an activehormone in human physiology. Retrieved December 19, 2012, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22032408
Author's Note: This information isintended to supplement your knowledge, not to replace advice fromyour health care provider. Interactions between your currentmedications and the above topic are not noted, therefore never usesupplements without approval from your health care provider.