The Supplement Guide
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DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone)

General Description

DHEA is an abbreviation for dehydroepiandrosterone, a hormone produced primarily in the adrenal glands. It is now sold in powdered form or as powdered capsules as a supplement. It is also a common ingredient in many anti-aging formulas (both liquid and powdered.) It is a common ingredient in beauty creams, although there is no proof that DHEA and it’s anti-aging benefits is delivered to the bloodstream through the pores of the skin.


DHEA is also produced in other parts of the body including the testicles, ovaries, and brain. After production, the bloodstream carries DHEA to tissues and cells where it is used for building new tissue and repair.  Some of it is converted to sex hormones testosterone and estrogens.  DHEA gets its reputation for being one of the youth hormones because the production of male and female sex hormones can make a person look and feel younger.


Aging begins when we start to lose our sex hormones. This occurs most drastically at age 35 when people feel more fatigued, start losing muscle mass and experience a lowered immune system. This happens despite an attentiveness to diet and exercise.


These changes are caused by the declining production of DHEA in our bodies.  This also causes a chain reaction in corresponding hormones that have been linked to sex drive and supporting the immune system. DHEA levels first appear in the blood steam at age seven and reaches its peak between 25 and 30 and then decline as much as 90% by age 60.


Although the specific mechanisms of action for DHEA are only partially understood, supplemental DHEA has been shown to have a positive influence when it comes to halting and reversing aging and obesity.


Sources of the Supplement

The main source of DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) is the human body. It is a steroid hormone produced in the adrenal gland early in the day. It is the most abundant steroid in the bloodstream and is present at even higher levels in brain tissue.


The source in nature that is used to manufacture the DHEA supplement is a wild yam. Most of the DHEA products on the market are grown on plantations in Mexico. To produce DHEA, Plant sterols (a class of plant hormones) are extracted from the wild yams. 


Common Uses

DHEA is used as a multi-tasking supplement to try and slow the symptoms and appearance of aging.  The benefits of DHEA are:


  • Anti-aging
  • Anti-anti-inflammatory
  • Strengthens muscles including the heart
  • Less wrinkles
  • More energy
  • Improved sex drive
  • Increased stamina
  • Less bone loss
  • Stabilizes blood sugar
  • Lose wieght
  • The replacement of fat with lean muscle
  • Improvement of the immune system
  • Feeling more alert and positive


One of the most enterprising uses of this supplement is its use as a way of boosting the immune system.   A 2002 report in the Journal of Immunology shows that DHEA could improve white cell functions and put the elderly at less risk for pneumonia, influenza and other diseases.


A German study from 1996 has shown that DHEA has consistently been shown to boost beneficial interleukin-2 and suppress damaging interkeukin-6 levels. Interteukin-6 is overproduced in the aged, which contributes to autoimmune disease, osteoporosis and breast cancer. B-cell lymphoma, and anemia. This study also showed that the supplement boosted the moods of individuals that were depressed as the result of facing an extended period of recovery.


In terms of blood sugar and weight management, a1998 study from Germany also demonstrated that the administering of 50 to 100 grams of the supplement was thought to elevate insulin grown factor.  Aging also causes a reduction in this factor, which can cause the loss of lean body mass and excess fat.


DHEA was also shown to be a possible prevention against Alzheimer's disease because it boosts IGF levels and blocks the damaging effects of the “stress” hormone that our body produces called cortisol. Cortisol is the hormone that causes weight gain around the midsection. According to a report in the a 2002 edition of the Journal of Edocrinology, Scientists noted that DHEA's protective effect could be of benefit to the normal aging brain.


Researchers at the University of California San Diego tested the effects of DHEA supplementation in both men and omen over a 6-month period.  This research showed that DHEA replacement was associated with an increase in perceived physical and psychological well-being for both men (67%) and women (84%).


An article in a 2003 edition of Calcified Tissue International shows that supplementation with DHEA helps to protect bone mineral density in woman and lumbar spine stability in aging men.


A 1994 study in Thailand concluded that Men with high DHEA levels are less likely to die of cardiovascular disease. Moreover, DHEA increases the body's ability to transform food into energy and burn off excess fat. The study also concluded that DHEA has anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation is known to play a critical role in the development of the killer diseases of aging.


A German study found that DHEA-deficient women supplementing with 50 mg. of DHEA daily for four months had decreased symptoms of depression and anxiety and improved libido.


An Italian study suggests that DHEA may be an effective option for preserving health in postmenopausal women. The study concluded that oral administration of 50 mg. of DHEA daily for 6 months mimics the benefits of traditional hormone replacement therapy (HRT).  This is why some women apply commercially made Yam cream under their arms when they hit menopause. The DHEA in the cream helps them to control their symptoms.
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