Pregnenolone is a powerful hormone. It does not occur naturally in your diet. Your body generally makes enough pregnenolone to meet your needs, under normal circumstances. However, pregnenolone levels decline with age. Pregnenolone is available as a dietary supplement in doses ranging from 5 mg to 50 mg. There is no standard dose. As with any supplement, take pregnenolone only under your doctor's supervision.
Your adrenal glands produce pregnenolone -- a steroid hormone -- from cholesterol. Steroid hormones exert a wide variety of physiological effects. Pregnenolone is known as the grandmother hormone, due to its role in producing other steroid hormones. It is a precursor to the primary sex hormones testosterone, progesterone and estrogen. It is also a precursor to other steroid hormones including aldosterone, which controls sodium and potassium balance, and cortisone, your body's primary stress hormone.
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Pregnenolone as a dietary supplement is marketed for memory, mental energy and mental clarity. Though there is no standard dose, it is typically taken at 30 mg daily. In clinical settings, pregnenolone is typically prescribed at 100 mg daily and used to treat clinical deficiencies. In research settings, doses up to 700 mg are reported. You should take pregnenolone in the dose your doctor determines is beneficial for your individual circumstances.
Pregnenolone is used primarily to treat deficiencies because of conditions such as adrenal insufficiency, which is when the adrenal glands fail to produce enough hormones. As a supplement, pregnenolone is used to combat stress, fatigue and menopausal symptoms, and for brain enhancement. However, human studies to support these uses are lacking.
Your endocrine system helps your body maintain a delicate hormonal balance. Too little or too much hormone can have adverse health effects. Taking pregnenolone in the absence of a clinical deficiency may disturb your endocrine function. Pregnenolone may also interact with other drugs. It can decrease the effectiveness of a sedative drug class known as benzodiazepine, which includes Valium and Xanax. Ask your doctor before taking any supplements, and tell him if you are taking any other supplements or medicines.