What Is the Difference Between DHEA & DHEAS?

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A senior couple tend to some plants in their backyard. (Image: Studio Zanello/Ken Chernus Photography/Blend Images/Getty Images)

Dehydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA, is a hormone that your body converts upon demand into other hormones. Both sexes naturally produce this hormone, and DHEA levels in your body typically decline in linear fashion. According to the book “DHEA in Human Health and Aging,” DHEA levels in your body typically peak at approximately 25 years of age and gradually start to decline as you age. Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, or DHEAS, results from your body’s metabolism of DHEA.

What Is the Difference Between DHEA and DHEAS

The difference between DHEA and DHEAS is that DHEA has an extra sulfate molecule attached to it. DHEAS is a steroid androgen present in both men and women. Your body can convert DHEAS into DHEA with an enzyme called steroid sulfatase. Your body can also reverse this process and change DHEA back into DHEAS. Your body makes DHEA in the ovaries, testes and the adrenal glands.

DHEA

DHEA is a master, or parent, hormone that your body changes into a hormone called androstenedione. Your body then converts androstenedione into the major female and male hormones. Because the levels of DHEA in your body decline as you age, according to “Griffiths’ Sport Supplement Review,” DHEA supplements can reverse some of the conditions caused by DHEA deficiencies in your body. Although your body makes DHEA naturally, you can also obtain DHEA in supplement form. However, you should speak with a medical professional prior to consuming any DHEA supplement.

DHEAS

DHEAS contains a sulfate molecule with one sulfur and four oxygen atoms attached to it. According to the book “Aging is a Treatable Disease: Your Anti-Aging Options,” more than 90 percent of the DHEA in your bloodstream exists in the form of DHEAS. Your body produces DHEA primarily in the morning hours, and your kidneys secrete this DHEA quickly. DHEAS, however, remains in your body much longer. For this reason, doctors use DHEAS levels to determine the blood level of the DHEA in your body.

Benefits of DHEA

DHEA also has several benefits to your overall health. According to the book “DHEA in Human Health and Aging,” DHEA supplementation can help treat depression and improve overall mental clarity and wellness. Additionally, DHEA can help treat erectile dysfunction, osteoporosis, Addison's disease and obesity, and increase muscle mass and improve physical performance. However, clinical research has not confirmed these additional benefits of DHEA. You should speak with a medical professional prior to taking any DHEA supplement.

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