DHEA Supplements

DHEA Supplements - All You Need To Know About DHEA Supplements

DHEA supplement is a natural hormone and a common supplement that can affect the levels of other hormones in the body. A study has proven its ability to improve sex drive increase bone density, reduce body fat, and correct some hormonal problems.

DHEA Supplements - All You Need To Know About DHEA Supplements

 What Is DHEA

DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone)is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands located above the kidneys. Part of it is converted into male and female sex hormones including testosterone and estrogen.

It is estimated that DHEA decreases by up to 80% throughout puberty. This applies not only to the elderly, as levels begin to decline around age 30.

Since DHEA is naturally produced, some question why it is consumed as a supplement. The main reason for this is that its levels decrease with age, and this decrease is linked to many diseases.

Studies have reported potential health benefits as follows:

  • Improving mood and memory
  • Building up bone and muscle strength
  • Strengthening the immune system
  • Providing more energy
  • Building up the adrenal gland
  • The slowing down of the body's aging that comes with age

Muscle strength and athletic performance

Due to DHEA's ability to increase testosterone and steroid levels, many believe that it can increase muscle mass or strength. However, the majority of research shows that taking DHEA supplements does not increase muscle mass and performance or enhance athletic performance.

This has been shown in adults, young adults, and the elderly over periods of four weeks to a year.

In contrast, a small amount of research has reported that this supplement can improve strength and physical performance in frail adults, the elderly, or those with poorly functioning adrenal glands.

There are risks to using DHEA as a supplement to enhance the steroid hormone. Thus, the higher the dose, the higher the risk. Possible side effects include:

  • Aggressive behavior, known as "roid rage"
  • Changes in cholesterol level
  • Liver problems
  • Higher blood pressure
  • Mood swings and other psychological symptoms
  • Permanent stunting of growth

Does it have a role in reducing depression

The relationship between DHEA and depression is complex. Some research on women approaching menopause has shown that depressed women have higher levels of this hormone than non-depressed women.

However, some individuals with major depression have lower levels of DHEA than those with milder depression.

While the relationship between DHEA levels and depression is not entirely clear, researchers have studied whether taking DHEA as a dietary supplement can improve symptoms of depression.

Some research shows that it can help treat depression, especially in individuals with mild depression or those who do not respond to physical therapy.

Some scientists have even cautioned against its use, as high levels of DHEA in the body are associated with depressive symptoms in middle-aged women, and in general, more data is needed before DHEA supplements can be suggested for depression.

Other studies showed no improvement in mental function or depression scores in healthy, middle-aged, and older adults.

It is not clear whether DHEA has many benefits in treating conditions such as:

  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Schizophrenia
  • Low bone density
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Heart disease
  • Cervical cancer
  • Myalgic encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Crohn's disease
  • Infertility

DHEA and Weight Loss

As with muscle mass, the majority of research indicates that DHEA is ineffective in reducing fat mass, but some evidence suggests that DHEA supplementation can lead to a slight decrease in fat mass in older men or adults whose adrenal glands are not working properly.

One study found that DHEA reduced fat mass by about 4% over a four-month period, although this was in patients with adrenal gland problems.

And while the effects of standard DHEA supplementation on fat mass aren't impressive, a different form of DHEA may be more promising. This form of supplement, called 7-Keto DHEA, has been reported to increase the metabolic rate in men and women who are overweight.

More so, during an eight-week exercise program for overweight adults, body weight and fat mass decreased three times more after taking 7-Keto DHEA supplements, compared to a placebo.

In this study, individuals who took the supplement lost about 6.4 pounds (2.9 kilograms) of body weight and 1.8% of body fat. While those in the placebo group lost 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) and 0.6% of body fat.

What are the dosage and side effects

While doses of 10-500 mg have been reported, the common dose is 25-50 mg per day.

In terms of time frame, 50 mg daily has been used safely for one year, and 25 mg daily has been used safely for two years.

In general, DHEA supplements have been used safely in studies for up to two years without severe side effects. Possible side effects of DHEA supplementation can include:
  • Unfavorable changes in cholesterol levels
  • Oily skin and acne, as well as skin thickening
  • Deepening the voice of women
  • Changes in the menstrual cycle
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Facial hair in women
  • Nasal congestion
  • Stomach upset
  • Hair loss
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Insomnia

DHEA supplement for fertility and libido

Not surprisingly, a supplement that affects both male and female sex hormones also affects sexual function.

For starters, DHEA supplementation may improve ovarian function in subfertile women. This increased the success of in vitro fertilization (IVF) in 25 women with fertility problems who underwent IVF before and after DHEA treatment. After treatment, the women produced more eggs and a higher percentage of eggs were fertilized - 67%, versus 39% before treatment.

One study found that women who took DHEA supplements during IVF had a 23% live birth rate, compared to a 4% live birth rate in the control group.

In addition, several studies have shown that these supplements may increase libido and sexual function in both men and women.

Women sometimes suffer from side effects from the misuse of DHEA supplements, such as:

  • facial hair growth
  • Hair loss
  • Voice changes
Men also experience side effects from misusing DHEA supplements:

  • Decreased sperm production
  • Shrinking testicles
  • breast enlargement

Note, DHEA supplements should not be taken by individuals with cancers affected by sex hormones, and it is best to speak with a doctor before starting DHEA supplements.

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