What is DHEA Supplement and its Benefits?
For a life bursting with energy, give DHEA supplements a chance!
Ours is a digital age. Goes without saying, it is fast, it is busy, sometimes borders on hectic and it doesn’t stop, for absolutely anyone. From the second our alarms blare away to the moment we reach our beds, all frazzled, there are barely any moments of respite. But, let’s just say that is how we like it. After all, it is the need of the hour. There is no room for slowing down. That’s something you keep telling yourself, but your biological mechanism doesn’t pay any heed to it. It slows down on its own accord.
With age, with time, there are certain changes that are bound to happen. You may not really acknowledge these changes or perhaps not know about them, but these changes are inevitable.
Some of these changes that aging brings on are visible. Who can forget about the much-dreaded wrinkles and fine lines? However, there are certain changes that are not visible. These are silent, and keep happening in our bodies without really notifying us from the beginning.
One such change is decreased secretion of certain hormones, enzymes, and steroids. One such steroid that makes itself scarce with aging is DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone).
What exactly is DHEA?
We can understand DHEA from two perspectives. Biologically, it is one of the adrenal steroid hormones secreted by our body. When we say adrenal steroid, we mean it is secreted by adrenal glands. The brain and the gonads (ovaries and testes) also secrete DHEA. Once secreted, DHEA later changes to sex hormones. So, it changes to androgens in males and estrogen levels in females. These hormones do not just regulate a human being’s libido, but they also play a role in regulating body fat, the reproductive system, energy level and overall metabolism.
Needless to say, DHEA marks youth, energy and everything wonderful that we enjoy in our 20s. In fact, DHEA’s role in the human body does affect almost all the body functioning.
The many roles of DHEA
Considering that DHEA is the most abundant steroid found in the human bloodstream, it has many important responsibilities. There is a reason why it is often referred to as the Mother of all hormones!
DHEA is extremely versatile. There are researchers that point out its diverse properties, that it has anti-diabetic, anti-dementia, anti-obesity, anti-carcinogenic, anti-stress, immune-enhancing, anti-viral and anti-bacterial, anti-aging and anti-heart disease effects, to name a few!
Medical studies have also revealed that there are several roles and responsibilities that DHEA carries out:
- DHEA is a potent antioxidant
- It manages the secretion of other hormones. In other words, it is a serum hormone level regulator (it helps regulate the thyroid & pituitary glands, and enhances thymus gland function)
- It is known to decrease cholesterol. Therefore, it can be said, it improves a human being’s cardiovascular system!
- It works to uplift mood by improving serotonin levels.
- It also stimulates the production of growth hormones in human beings
- It is known to boost immunity in the human body. It accomplishes this by increasing killer cell activity.
- It is also known for increasing body cells’ reactivity to insulin
- It helps the body cope with stress and helps it attain normalcy after such a phase passes.
- It has been associated with improved cognitive function, bone formation and sexual function.
What happens when DHEA secretion decreases?
Now, the most important thing to know about DHEA is that it is considered the most important marker of increasing age!
Yes, that’s true. When the levels of DHEA in our body decrease, its impact begins to show, what we often attribute to age. Therefore, for most of us, the secretion increases from the early to late 20′s. It is after this point that its secretion slowly reduces, bringing various changes in our body. Many studies have pointed out that reduced secretion of DHEA could also be related to the usage of certain medicines that have insulin and corticosteroids, not to forget some lifestyle habits, as well!
Possible causes of DHEA deficiency
DHEA deficiency or low levels of DHEA are said to be the natural process linked to aging. Some of the causes of low levels of deficiency are believed to be as below:
- Cardiovascular disease in men
- Certain cancers
- Trauma and stress too
- Weak immune system
Other than the above, we can blame the following for decreased levels of DHEA in our body:
- Imbalanced blood sugar
- A lot of nicotine
- Increased consumption of caffeine
- Alcohol consumption
What are normal DHEA levels?
Let’s get a better understanding of the DHEA levels we are talking about.
As children, we produce ample DHEA. In fact, there are studies that indicate that a child’s brain requires a very high amount of DHEA to develop normally.
For most people, DHEA levels are at their highest when they are 25. After this, the levels begin to reduce at a rate of 2% per year.
Now we may not realize the moment-to-moment change in our bodies but by the time we reach our 40s, we can’t miss what reduced DHEA has done to our bodies.
Signs and symptoms of DHEA deficiency
- Poor memory and ability to retain information
- Increased irritability to noise
- Increased anxiety
- Significantly reduced libido (especially in women)
- Decreased body hair especially armpit, and pubic area
- Dryness in skin, eyes
- Brittle, dry hair
Studies have proven that very low levels of DHEA bring with them an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in men. Low levels of DHEA have also been linked to the probability of some cancers. Many reports have also pointed to low DHEA levels in Alzheimer patients as compared to people who are not suffering from the disease.
In any case, it has been noticed that by the time a human being reaches 80, DHEA levels have reduced to almost 15% of the amount that was being secreted in the 20s.
So, by now, we know we really want DHEA levels to stay high! We have also got the idea that we continuously lose the ability to secret this very essential hormone that is needed to stay well and young! But can we still keep the levels of DHEA at the required amounts in our bodies? Well, to a good extent, it is possible. It is possible through a DHEA supplement!
Why is DHEA supplementation so essential?
Many medical experts propose supplementation as an accepted way to replace the depleting DHEA levels. The point to be kept in mind is that it can’t be obtained from food, really. Therefore, supplementation is the only way to cope with the declining DHEA in the body to keep it energetic and healthy.
DHEA Supplement Benefits
While DHEA might not have found a place among the top anti-aging supplements, it is nevertheless an important supplement that may help you stay younger and more energetic. And if you are thinking that DHEA supplement is needed just to keep aging away, you are wrong. There are several benefits of DHEA supplement that are sure to amaze you but let’s start with its benefits for anti-aging purposes.
1. DHEA supplement is a big help for anti-aging
As DHEA levels keep on getting lower with age, some researchers are of the opinion that DHEA supplements might help slow down aging. In fact, it may also help with aging skin as it is believed to increase epidermal thickness, sebum production, and hydration of the skin. It is also known to reduce facial skin pigmentation.
2. DHEA supplement is needed to control Cortisol level
That’s right. It is one of the biggest facts that are not known to many people. It has been found that when DHEA levels are low, Cortisol levels are high.
Why should we worry about increased Cortisol levels, you ask?
Well, that’s because Cortisol is one of the few hormones whose secretion increases with age and it brings stress! If it is allowed to stay at an all-time high, it can adversely impact your insulin resistance, endocrine system, and hypothalamus.
Don’t miss reading How Does Stress Affect Aging to know the connection between stress, cortisol, and aging!
Therefore, it makes it very important for us to maintain healthy levels of DHEA by using the correct supplement.
3. DHEA supplement is needed for the immune system
There are many studies that indicate DHEA’s important role in keeping the immune system healthy. DHEA increases the number of natural killer cells, which normally declines with age. These cells play a key role in keeping the immune system healthy by battling viruses and cancer cells. Therefore, if you are above the 30s mark and think that you want to pamper your immune system, you must consider taking a DHEA supplement!
4. DHEA supplement could help you in weight loss
There have been a number of studies to know the relationship between DHEA levels and obesity. Well, some good results have surfaced.
There are indications that DHEA plays a pivotal role in curbing factors like:
- Increased insulin levels
- Insulin resistance
- High blood glucose
Now, all of the above-mentioned factors, in turn, increase the risk of obesity and diabetes.
Therefore, you must keep those DHEA levels high to keep obesity away. Consider choosing a trustworthy DHEA supplement in adequate amounts and enjoy a life free from weight gain!
5. DHEA supplement boosts energy
DHEA levels influence moods, energy levels, and overall well-being.
Do you think it is too good to be true?
Trust the studies that indicate that women felt more at ease when their DHEA levels were high. They felt more energetic and could cope with stress in a better way, without getting cranky. In some women, deep sleep also surfaced as a reward of high DHEA levels. There are many who have also reported that there was a significant improvement in joint pains and mobility.
In fact, DHEA supplements are often taken by athletes as they believe it is capable of improving muscle strength and enhancing their athletic performance. The reason behind this may be the fact that DHEA aids in increasing the level of steroid hormones like testosterone levels.
In order to tackle the reduced DHEA levels in your body, you must opt for a DHEA supplement that will keep your energy levels high and stress as far away as possible!
6. DHEA supplement reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease
There have been many comprehensive studies that indicate a strong relationship between reduced levels of DHEA and Alzheimer’s disease. Patients with Alzheimer’s have 48% less DHEA levels as compared to other healthy people of the same age.
Clearly, to ward off the scare of Alzheimer, we need to ensure that DHEA levels don’t drop. While aging is inevitable, you can go for a DHEA supplement to maintain healthy levels of the steroid and enjoy life, without worrying about falling prey to Alzheimer’s!
7. DHEA supplement helps combat depression
DHEA supplements have promising effects on mild to moderate depression. One of the studies conducted for only six weeks by the National Institute of Mental Health showed DHEA supplements were helpful in treating mild to moderate depression in some middle-aged people.
Is it safe to take DHEA supplement?
In all the medical studies that have happened so far, there is an indication that DHEA supplement improves health and even leads to a longer life. Therefore, it is thought to be safe to take DHEA supplements in a dosage that is right for you.
When talking about what is the right dosage, the answer will be different for every person. It depends upon many factors like age, lifestyle, etc. Therefore, the best way to find out is to consult a doctor. Normally, it is best to be cautious and take low doses of Dehydroepiandrosterone DHEA.
Having told that, there is also a need to cautious about a few side effects that may surface when taking DHEA supplements.
DHEA supplement- possible side effects
As DHEA raises the normal levels of testosterone and estrogen in a male and female body respectively, there may be certain side effects resulting from it. These are only possible side effects and it’s not at all certain that you would get them if you take a DHEA supplement!
- Acne resulting from oily skin
- Skin thickening
- Stomach upset
- High blood pressure
- Issues with the menstrual cycle
- Hair loss and sometimes unwanted facial hair too, especially in women
- Deepened voice in women
- Nasal congestion
- Irregular heartbeat, palpitation
- Sleeplessness though some studies suggest DHEA leads to better sleep still many can experience insomnia too.
- Changes in cholesterol levels
In any case, a DHEA supplement is not recommended for people under the age bracket of 30 unless there is a special case involved. Exceptions could be made for pregnant women and those who have a higher risk of prostate, breast, or uterine cancer.
No guesswork, please! Rely on your doctor and get the before-and-after tests of blood DHEA and DHEA-sulfate levels before proceeding with any DHEA supplement!