A healthy adrenal gland naturally produces a steroid hormone known as dehydroepiandrosterone (or DHEA). Everyone has DHEA – it catalyzes other hormones, most notably estrogen and testosterone. But as we age, our bodies produce less and less dehydroepiandrosterone which has given rise to synthetic DHEA supplements meant to restore DHEA levels in the body.
These supplements are used by people who report better sex drive, more muscle mass, and anti-aging properties of the hormone supplement. In this article, we look at dehydroepiandrosterone and the science behind its health benefits.
What Is Dhea?
Your adrenal gland sits just north of your kidneys and produces the natural steroid hormone called DHEA, the most abundant circulating steroid in humans. This hormone is simply a steroid that fulfills some roles of a hormone.
The DHEA steroid is a precursor – or source material – to both testosterone and androgen, the primary male and female sex hormones. DHEA has been shown to increase both of these hormones which have generated widespread interest in its benefits.
Health Benefits of the Dhea Hormone
DHEA has been researched for its ability to slow the aging process and to improve cognitive (brain) function and body composition (muscle mass). The fact that DHEA declines as we age has led to speculation that DHEA supplements may reduce the effects of aging.
Low DHEA has also been associated with depression in adults prompting researchers to explore the steroid’s ability to reverse the same condition. Placebo-controlled studies have indicated that DHEA has a higher success rate in treating depression than the placebo.
Researchers have also witnessed a correlation between low DHEA levels and reduced bone density or osteoporosis. In randomized controlled trials, scientists were able to show that DHEA supplements improve osteoporosis and increase bone mineral density.
And it should come as no surprise that a steroid hormone that promotes both estrogen and testosterone products would be beneficial to your sex life and reproductive health. DHEA has been studied for its effect on improving the function of ovaries in women. In fact, one study demonstrated that DHEA increased the success rate significantly in an IVF (in vitro fertilization) scenario. Other studies have also shown that DHEA increases libido in both women and men.
It is important to note that all of these health benefits are observed in patients whose DHEA level is lower than normal. It does not follow that a person with normal DHEA levels can use the supplement to turbocharge their sex life or bone density – the steroid corrects DHEA shortage but is unlikely to produce additional benefits in people with normal DHEA levels.
There is a lot to think about – we understand. If you have questions about DHEA or any of the conditions discussed here, connecting with a doctor in a discrete setting has never been easier.
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