Is DHEA the fountain of youth? Many people are searching for that magical fountain of youth. From taking a plethora of vitamins, to various exercise fads, the list is endless. DHEA is one supplement that shows promise.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a hormone that is produced by your body, and then converted to sex hormones, such as testosterone and estrogen.
The amount of each hormone that this supplement converts to depends on your biochemistry, age, and sex. However, after the age of 30, your body’s ability to produce DHEA declines.
And, since your body’s ability to produce testosterone and estrogen also declines with age, people turn to DHEA supplements to help balance their hormones and to stay healthy.
But with so many options on the market, how and why should one choose a DHEA supplement?
Why Take a DHEA Supplement?
DHEA functions in a variety of ways in your body, including converting to testosterone or estrogen if your body is low in either of these hormones.
As a natural hormone balancer, DHEA helps optimize your health in a variety of ways. If you already have healthy levels of these hormones, your body will use DHEA for other functions such as metabolism, aging, and overall well being.
As you age and your levels of DHEA decline, your probability of developing several health issues increases. Studies have found a correlation between levels of DHEA and disease outcomes.
Specifically, taking a DHEA supplement could benefit those who are suffering from depression, lupus, obesity, inflammation, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and adrenal fatigue.
Additionally, low levels of DHEA may accelerate aging and increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, HIV, and a variety of psychological diseases.
In slowing down the aging process, this ‘fountain of youth’ can help you appear younger by keeping your skin healthy. Taking supplements can improve the hydration, thickness, and overall appearance of your skin as you age.
It has also been known to help increase bone density, therefore reducing your likelihood of developing osteoporosis.
When it comes to your mental health, studies have found that taking DHEA supplements can relieve mild to moderate depression.
This means that short-term use of DHEA supplements could be very helpful for people suffering from depression who are unable to tolerate anti-depression prescription medications.
Because it acts as a hormone balancer, DHEA can also help regulate mood swings that occur due to hormonal changes.
DHEA also reduces inflammation, which is important for everyone, but specifically, metabolic syndrome is linked to inflammation in the body and can be a result of low DHEA.
When supplementing with DHEA to decrease inflammation, you’re helping protect your body from a vast array of chronic disorders.
Your DHEA levels steadily decline at a rate of 5% per year after they peak in your 20s, which can contribute to a weakened immune system, a decline in cognitive function, and poor physical strength.
DHEA is also negatively impacted by cortisol, which suggests that your stress levels can reduce your body’s amount of this important hormone.
Because you cannot consume DHEA through your diet, it is often a good idea to take a DHEA supplement to add to what your adrenal glands are able to produce naturally.
How to Choose the Best DHEA Supplement
While there are a lot of options on the market, some DHEA supplements are more effective than others.
One study analyzed the quality of various DHEA supplements and found that while most of the products came within 10% of the amount of DHEA that was reported on the label, some products contained almost no DHEA at all.
On the other hand, the study found that some supplements had up to 50% more DHEA in them than the amount reported on the label.
This study emphasizes the importance of using a high-quality DHEA supplement, so make sure you’re buying from a reputable brand and the label on the product explicitly states how much DHEA is contained in the supplement.
The optimal range of DHEA levels for men is between 400 and 560, and for women, it is between 350 to 430. Without supplementing with DHEA, those who are over 40 typically have DHEA levels that are below 200, and oftentimes, closer to zero.
DHEA is generally well tolerated, but you may experience some rare side effects when taking this supplement. Some possible, very rare side effects include congestion, headaches, fatigue, acne, and excess sebum production.
The late Leroy Colbert gives his take on DHEA here.