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Supplement Spotlight: DHEA

Written by Anika Christ, RD, CISSN, CPT - Life Time Fitness

Do you have low libido?  How about low mood, depression, poor memory or even overwhelming fatigue?  These are all symptoms of low DHEA, or dehydro-epi-androsterone.  DHEA, commonly referred as our anti-aging of “feel good” hormone, is involved in many physiological processes in our body.   Lower than optimal levels are becoming common territory amongst our adult population, often due to chronic stress.   But if you are paying the price with its not-so-enjoyable symptoms, you may want to consider supplementation!

How does DHEA impact health?

In the body, DHEA is a natural steroid hormone that is synthesized by cholesterol and secreted from our adrenal glands.  Naturally, men tend to have higher levels of DHEA versus women, but our natural production of this hormone peaks while we are in our twenties.   As we age, our DHEA pools should gradually decline (20% per decade), but stress can make this hormone fall even faster than nature intended. 

Why does stress make it fall?  In simple terms, stress can age us, but both DHEA and stress hormones (such as cortisol) are excreted by the adrenals.  If your body is under chronic or acute stress, your adrenals cope by releasing more and more stress hormone and can eventually exhaust and not be able to produce optimal DHEA levels, leaving you felling tapped out or even depressed.  If our DHEA pools deplete, we also sacrifice our ability to have a healthy hormone balance.  Because DHEA is a precursor to sex hormones, including estrogens and testosterone, low levels can cause a reduction in libido and overall good mood.  If you have confirmed low DHEA levels, it is often highly recommended to check your sex hormones as well.

Growing research is suggesting that optimal DHEA levels can ward off osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, depression, cancer and even obesity.  This may be because healthy DHEA levels on their own support immune and brain function, bone metabolism, blood lipid and energy metabolism, how we regulate blood sugar and insulin, and how we maintain lean body mass. 

Who would benefit from taking it?

Individuals looking to support their DHEA levels would benefit from taking it.  However, even though you may be symptomatic of low-DHEA, you never want to self-prescribe.  Confirm your DHEA levels with one of our personal assessments through saliva or blood.

Recommended Dosage:

Douglas Laboratories DHEA comes in 25mg, sublingual tablets.  Adults can take ½ to 1 tablet daily and can be taken sublingually by allowing tablet to dissolve in mouth or with water. 

Individuals should also know that DHEA may not be a forever supplement.  Throughout supplementation, blood or salivary levels of DHEA should be checked and rechecked to confirm need for supplement.

Potential Contraindications:

DHEA should not be taken by individuals under the age of 18.  If you have breast, uterine, ovarian or prostate problems, or if you are at risk or have prostate, breast, uterine or ovarian cancer, you should not take this product. 

If you are pregnant, nursing or taking any prescription medications (especially other hormones or MAOIs) consult with your physician before using this product. 

To learn more, or if you're interested in getting started with this supplement, talk with a Personal Trainer or Registered Dietitian at Life Time.

Do you have a question or comment? Keep the conversation going by posting it below.

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.

These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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Reader Comments (1)

I am agree and in this blog vital information is presented and i like it.
This information increase my knowledge on this topic.

January 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmatokin

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