The Benefits of Using DHEA Supplements
by Matt Weik
DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) is a steroid hormone naturally produced by the adrenal glands that sit at the top of your kidneys. Your body uses DHEA to produce estrogen and testosterone, female and male hormones, respectively. As the production of these hormones decreases as per age, DHEA supplements can come into play and help.
Known for helping to improve muscle growth, strength, and overall performance, DHEA is a very popular supplement among athletes and bodybuilders.
But are DHEA supplements really worth the hype? What are the benefits that it offers? Let’s take a look at what some studies say about this endogenous steroid hormone.
Studies show that as you age, the level of DHEA in your body declines significantly. When you are in your 20s, DHEA levels are at their highest. Then, the levels start dropping by around 10% every decade. So, by the time you reach your 70s and 80s, the level of DHEA that remains is next to nothing.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition. The information found within this article is not medical advice and should not supersede a doctor’s diagnosis and treatment plan should you have a health condition. The use of DHEA supplements should never be a replacement for any medication that your doctor puts you on.
The Benefits of DHEA Supplements
Those who choose to utilize DHEA supplements may experience some of the benefits found below.
1. Boost Testosterone
One of the critical factors in building quality lean muscle mass is testosterone. This potent hormone not only aids in increasing muscle growth but also being able to prevent muscle wasting.
Where DHEA supplements come into play is that if your DHEA levels are low as well as your testosterone levels, using DHEA supplements can help increase natural testosterone levels.
2. Decrease Body Fat
As you know, the more lean muscle mass you have, the more energy your body will demand and use on a daily basis, which means a higher metabolic rate. So, while boosting testosterone like what was mentioned in #1, DHEA supplements have another physique-enhancing benefit — helping decrease body fat (as a standalone and not in conjunction with your lean body mass).
There is a specific form of DHEA supplements out on the market called 7-Keto DHEA. This particular form of DHEA supplements has been shown to help increase metabolic rate in overweight men and women. Furthermore, one study found that those who used 7-Keto DHEA compared to a placebo lost three times more weight and body fat.
3. Bone Health
DHEA helps improve bone density and reduces the risk of osteoporosis by promoting bone development. As you age, you risk losing bone mineral density. This can cause bone fractures and breaks if bone mineral density continues to decline.
As per studies, using DHEA supplements for 1-2 years helps increase the bone density in women, but surprisingly, not in men. That said, women tend to be more likely to suffer from osteoporosis than men, which puts them at a higher risk.
4. Improve Depression
DHEA may help with improving the symptoms of depression. The relationship between depression and DHEA is not exactly clear. But there is evidence that shows depression is linked with low levels of DHEA.
A 2014 review mentioned that DHEA supplements could help treat mild depression or depression that is resistant to conventional therapy. However, more research is needed to draw any specific conclusions.
5. Reproductive Health
DHEA is known to increase the production of estrogen and testosterone, which in turn play an important role in improving reproductive health as we age.
Utilizing DHEA supplements can help those who are suffering from adrenal insufficiency. As per research, DHEA supplements can improve sexual health and improve mood.
Potential Side Effects of DHEA Supplements
DHEA is a steroid hormone and should be taken under the supervision of a doctor. If not, it may lead to various side effects like:
- Acne and oily skin
- Abnormal hair growth
- Heart palpitations
- Decrease in HDL cholesterol
- Upset stomach
DHEA supplements may interact with various drugs, cause reactions, and reduce the drug’s effectiveness. Therefore, it’s essential to check with your healthcare provider before adding DHEA supplements to your regimen and inform them about any medications you are currently taking.
The recommended doses of DHEA supplements are between 25 mg to 50 mg. And, it should be noted that it’s best to take DHEA supplements before going to bed.
DHEA is a great and safe supplement but ensure that you consume it under proper guidance. Also, be aware of all the possible interactions and side effects that may occur.
How to Know If You’re Deficient in DHEA?
If your DHEA levels are low, you may start to experience the following symptoms:
- Low energy
- Poor concentration
Who Should Not Use DHEA Supplements?
If you are having liver problems, you should not take DHEA supplements. DHEA is metabolized in the liver, so avoid DHEA if you have any known liver issues. Also, if you are hypersensitive to DHEA, discontinue use of the supplement.
Also, DHEA is a powerful supplement and is not recommended for children or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
As always, if you are thinking of implementing DHEA supplements into your program, first consult with your healthcare professional first.