The adrenal glands use cholesterol to make pregnenolone, an essential precursor hormone which is then converted into steroid hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and cortisol. Highly concentrated in the brain, it functions as an important neurotransmitter. According to the Integrative Medicine Center of Western Colorado, deficiency of pregnenolone leads to a deficiency of male and female sex hormones and cortisol. Pregnenolone deficit is established by means of a blood test. Pregnenolone supplements should be taken only under medical supervision; daily doses of pregnenolone greater than 200 to 300 mg can be toxic to the liver, and pregnenolone should be used with caution when there is coexisting liver disease.
Decreased Libido and Secondary Sexual Characteristics
Pregnenolone deficiency can manifest as symptoms related to decreased male and female sex hormones. Pregnenolone production decreases with age, as do sex hormones. According to MayoClinic.com, estrogen deficiency can present as premature ovarian failure, vaginal atrophy and dryness, which essentially are symptoms of the post-menopausal state.
MayoClinic.com states that testosterone levels decline with age, decreasing by 1 percent per year after age 30. Male hypogonadism or low testosterone can manifest as decreased libido, diminished sperm production, decreased bone density, changes in fat distribution and decreased muscle strength and mass. MayoClinic.com asserts that men with low testosterone levels can also experience emotional changes such as low self confidence, sadness, and difficulty concentrating. Clinically low testosterone levels can be treated with supplemental testosterone, but there is a risk of development of benign prostatic enlargement and growth stimulation of prostate cancer cells.
Other symptoms of low pregnenolone that present as diminished secondary sexual characteristics are: diminished to absent underarm and pubic hair, dry eyes, hot flashes and fatigue.
Decreased Memory and Mental Awareness
Pregnenolone is 10 times more concentrated in the brain than it is in the blood. It is an important neurotransmitter than helps with memory; pregnenolone deficiency can manifest as impaired memory. People rely upon memory to remain oriented to space, time and physical environment; memory impairment contributes to decreased awareness and ability to function and handle complex daily tasks. According to the Integrative Medicine Center of Western Colorado, decreased memory due to pregnenolone deficiency can be improved with pregnenolone supplementation.
Fatigue and Reduced Mobility
People with pregnenolone deficiency can also experience generalized fatigue, muscle weakness, and joint aches and pains. The combination of these symptoms may cause decreased mobility. Inactivity in general is known to contribute to ill health. Sedentary states contribute to obesity, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.