Dehydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA, is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands which is then converted to steroid sex hormones like testosterone and estrogen in the body. Levels of DHEA peak between the ages of 20 and 30 years old and decline with age. DHEA is manufactured and used as hormonal replacement therapy, according to Columbia University’s Health Services. Proponents of DHEA believe it has several health benefits, ranging from increasing energy to possibly helping with Alzheimer’s disease. Always consult with your physician before taking new supplements or undergoing alternative treatments.
Improves Energy Levels
When 50 to 200 mg of a DHEA hormonal supplement are taken daily, it may improve energy levels in people with chronic fatigue syndrome, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. The University of Michigan Health System reports that women with true adrenal insufficiency who have low levels of DHEA may see an improvement in energy and sense of well-being when 50 mg of DHEA supplement is taken each day.
According to the NYU Langone Medical Center, DHEA may help older women with osteoporosis. DHEA treatment may help fight osteoporosis in women over 70 and is helpful in preventing osteoporosis in women with anorexia. The Saint Louis University reports that when a DHEA supplement is taken with both vitamin D and calcium, it significantly improves spinal bone density in older women. A two-year University of Saint Louis study was conducted and found that the female study subjects’ bone density increased by 2 percent. This study was limited to spinal bone density and did not include other bones in the body.
DHEA supplementation may help women with menopausal symptoms, according to the University of Michigan Health System. It may effect mood symptoms associated with menopause by improving the repsonse in the brain to endorphins, the brain chemicals involved in pain and pleasure sensations. Check with your physician before taking DHEA supplements for hormonal issues.
People with high cholesterol levels may benefit from taking DHEA, according to NYU Langone Medical Center. DHEA may reduce cholesterol levels in blood and reduce plaque formations. However, DHEA may also cause further problems in people with cardiovascular disease; consult with your physician prior to using DHEA supplements if you have a history of heart or cardiovascular issues.
According to Columbia University’s Health Services, DHEA may cause women to grow excess facial hair when taken in excessive doses over 100 mg per day and it may deepen their voices. DHEA may increase risk of beast cancer and heart disease, cause acne breakouts, increase breast size in men and increase the risk of prostate cancer. High dosages of DHEA may cause liver damage. Due to high risks associated with taking DHEA, weigh your family health history or other risk factors with your doctor prior to taking this supplement.