Feb 222013

DHEA, or dehydroepiandrosterone, is a hormone produced within the body, and it is secreted by the adrenal gland. DHEA serves as a precursor to the male hormone, androgen, and the female hormone, estrogen. DHEA falls within a class of hormones called steroid hormones, which are synthesized from cholesterol.

Although the function of DHEA is not fully understood, it is believed to play an important factor in aging and brain function. DHEA deficiencies have also been associated with weakened immune function, poor nervous system function, juvenile arthritis, adult asthma, and chronic fatigue syndrome.

DHEA deficiencies are also common in individuals with adrenal insufficiency, aka adrenal fatigue. The adrenal gland produces and releases cortisol in response to stress, and overproduction of cortisol may lead to an insufficient production of DHEA because they are part of the same chemical pathway. Therefore, during times of adrenal insufficiency, there is a resultant imbalance in sex hormone production.

Several studies have been performed on the effects of DHEA supplementation on depression and adrenal insufficiency. DHEA supplementation has been shown to improve adrenal exhaustion, thereby improving symptoms of depression. Also, by improving adrenal exhaustion, cortisol levels are stabilized and the body is able to mobilize fat to be used for energy, resulting in weight loss. DHEA supplementation is likely safe when consumed at 1,600 mg/day for one month or at 50 mg/day for 6 months. The recommended dosing for adrenal exhaustion, depression, and obesity are 20-75mg/day.

Because DHEA supplementation can theoretically increase the levels of androgens and estrogens, it is not recommended for individuals with ovarian, uterine, or prostate cancer or a history of them. Before starting supplementation with DHEA, speak with your healthcare provider.


Natural Standard Database: DHEA

*This is not a diagnosis for taking this supplement.  If you would like to discuss with a doctor if DHEA supplementation would benefit you, please call the office at 724-934-7788.

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