Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a hormone your body naturally produces that is converted into testosterone and estrogen. You can also take it in supplement form — if that's the case, knowing the best DHEA dosage for you may help you avoid certain side effects.
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Here are DHEA's effects, how much DHEA you should take daily and potential supplement side effects to be aware of.
There are few proven benefits and many potential pitfalls to taking DHEA supplements, per the Mayo Clinic. As a result, it's best to avoid trying one unless your doctor recommends it.
What Does DHEA Do?
Typically, your DHEA levels peak around the age of 25 and then slowly decrease as you age, per Mount Sinai. That's why some people decide to take supplements of the hormone — the idea is that it can battle aging.
But there's no evidence to show that a lack of DHEA is linked to problems with aging, according to Mount Sinai. There's also no research demonstrating that DHEA has anti-aging properties, per the Mayo Clinic.
There are also claims that the right DHEA dosage for weight loss can help you shed pounds. But there are no studies in humans that support this assertion, according to Mount Sinai.
Really, there are only a few evidence-based reasons to take DHEA: According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), the supplement may possibly help treat the following conditions:
- Menopause symptoms like vaginal atrophy and aging skin
- Difficulty getting pregnant
On the whole, though, a DHEA supplement may have more potential to harm you than help you, so you should avoid trying one unless your doctor recommends it, per the Mayo Clinic.
How Much DHEA Should You Take?
How much DHEA a person assigned female at birth (AFAB) or person assigned male at birth (AMAB) should take depends on a number of factors like age and health. It's best to talk to a doctor before taking the supplement, as they can help determine the ideal DHEA dosage for you, per Mount Sinai.
Importantly, anyone under the age of 40 should not take these supplements.
So how much DHEA should a person over the age of 40 take daily? According to the NLM, a safe DHEA dosage for people AFAB and AMAB is 50 milligrams per day.
Some research has found that taking 200 milligrams of DHEA a day will raise testosterone, per Mount Sinai. But that doesn't mean you should take DHEA for low testosterone — again, this supplement should only be taken if prescribed by a doctor.
In fact, taking DHEA dosages higher than 50 milligrams — especially for a year or more — can up your risk for developing conditions like cancer, per the NLM.
There's some evidence to show that low-dose DHEA — 20 to 30 milligrams a day — may be enough, though more research is needed to support this claim, according to Mount Sinai. There is no evidence to show that even smaller amounts, like DHEA in 5-milligram doses, have any effect.
Some supplements are sold as topical creams or vaginal inserts, per the NLM. The amount of DHEA in such products can vary from brand to brand, so talk to your doctor about the best DHEA dosage for females if you're considering taking these non-oral supplements.
How Long Does It Take for DHEA to Work?
The answer to this question depends on your condition, supplement and dose. In general though, avoid taking DHEA for more than a year unless your doctor instructs you to do otherwise, per the NLM.
There are some side effects to keep in mind if you take a DHEA supplement. Per the Mayo Clinic, these include:
- Oily skin
- Upset stomach
- Reduced levels of good cholesterol
- Hair growth on the face, chest and back in people AFAB
- Increased risk for sex hormone-related cancers like prostate, breast and ovarian cancers
People with certain health concerns should avoid this supplement, as it can mess with their wellbeing, according to the NLM. These conditions include:
Finally, DHEA can interact poorly with certain medications. Per the NLM, avoid the supplement if you take:
- Anti-clotting medicine
- Drugs for estrogen-sensitive cancers
- Medication that involves your liver
- Tuberculosis vaccine