DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) is a hormone produced by the adrenal gland.
DHEA is the most common sterone in human blood. Blood levels are highest during our late teens and begin to decline around age 25. By the time we reach 70 years of age, DHEA production is only a small fraction of what it was when we were younger.
Research has shown a correlation between low DHEA levels and a declining immune system. As such, DHEA is being used in the fight against HIV, cancer, and senile dementia.
But DHEA′s most overlooked but vital role may be its relationship with cortisol. DHEA has an inverse relationship to cortisol, i.e. when DHEA is low cortisol levels are elevated and vice-versa. Cortisol is one of the few hormones that increases with age. Cortisol is known to induce stress and when levels are elevated for long periods many bodily functions are negatively affected. For example, the body may become more insulin resistant and damage to the endocrine system via damage to the hypothalamus may occur. Maintaining healthy DHEA levels while keeping coritisol levels under control may help slow physical aging and reduce stress.
The average production of DHEA from healthy adrenal glands is approximately 25mg per day. Men produce more DHEA on average than women. It's possible that people using doses of 50-100mg daily may find this too high for long-term continuous use. Although there is no-known down-regulation (a situation whereby the adrenal glands would slow or stop their own production of DHEA in response to the continuous high levels caused by long-term DHEA supplementation), it is advisable to stop DHEA use for periods of time on a regular basis to prevent this possibility (or have DHEA levels monitored by blood tests).
Another DHEA alternative is 7-keto DHEA which does NOT convert to androgens, testosterone, or estrogen and may be more suitable for some. This may be particularly beneficial for women, (especially those in the menopause) who often complain of testosterone side-effects, such as facial hair and acne when using other forms of DHEA. 7-keto DHEA as a final metabolite is believed to be two and a half times more potent mg per mg than other forms of DHEA. Doses of 7-keto DHEA are 12.5mg to 25mg daily.
For those wishing to get the potential androgenic benefits of DHEA, low doses are advised. 10-25 mg /day for women, 20-40 mg/day for men. Because DHEA could convert to testosterone and estrogen estradiol, the use of Di-indolylmethane is recommended. 7- keto DHEA may be effective at doses as low as 5-10 mg/day, with 25-50 mg/day being probably adequate for all but medical use in disease treatment under medical supervision.
DHEA should NOT be used by persons who are suffering from prostate or testicular cancer. Anyone suffering any serious disease or hormonal condition should only use DHEA under competent medical supervision.
Potential Side Effects
DHEA could convert to testosterone. Because of this, the testosterone can convert to the bad estrogen estradiol.