DHEA, also known as dehydroepiandrosterone, is a hormone produced by your body’s adrenal glands. It plays a role in the regulation of our hormones and is converted into estrogen and testosterone in our bodies. Our DHEA, estrogen, and testosterone levels gradually decline as we age, so taking DHEA supplements has been used to build up those levels and counteract the potential decline.
Many believe that DHEA helps increase bone density, improves mood, provides energy, and enhances memory. A lot of people also believe that using DHEA supplements may help combat aging. Other benefits include improving immune system health and possibly fighting depression.
Different Types Of DHEA Supplements
Supplemental DHEA comes as a synthetic form of DHEA. It usually comes as either an oral supplement in tablet form or as a topical cream that can be applied. Dosages vary for DHEA supplements but typically are offered in capsule form in doses between 25 and 50 mg. 50 mg doses are safe for up to one year, whereas 25 mg doses are safe for use up to 2 years. Doses up to 500 mg have been used, but use caution when using higher doses and always consult with your doctor first to determine the right dose for you.
DHEA Supplement Benefits
Many of the benefits that come with taking DHEA supplements are associated with the benefits of healthy hormonal levels. The following are some of the more researched benefits of DHEA supplements:
- May increase bone density
- May improve mood
- May enhance memory
- May fight depression
- May increase sex drive
- May slow the aging process (anti-aging benefits)
- Wards off aging of the skin
- May improve fertility
- Can help with overall adrenal health
- May increase fat burn
- May increase muscle and bone strength
Should I Take DHEA Supplements?
DHEA supplements have been marked safe based on ongoing research over the last few years. However, DHEA can obviously affect your hormonal health and, thus, your health as a whole, so consult with a doctor before use. The following are some associated side effects of taking DHEA supplements:
- Greasy skin
- Increased hair growth
There can be some other more serious side effects depending on your individual health condition. If you have any cancers or diseases pertaining to the sex hormones, it is not advised to take DHEA supplements. Additionally, young and healthy adults with normal DHEA levels should not usually supplement with DHEA.
Most benefits of DHEA supplements are seen among older individuals or individuals with fertility, adrenal, and sexual disorders/ conditions.
Do DHEA Supplements Really Work?
The benefits that are more scientifically researched for DHEA supplements include an increase in libido/ sex drive, reversing the aging of the skin, and the treatment of depression. Other benefits like an increased fat burn and increased muscle strength have not been proven effective by research. There are other benefits associated with DHEA, but they are more “presumed benefits” as they are based on how DHEA and the sex hormones behave in the body.
DHEA can prove beneficial for older populations and those lacking sex hormones/ struggling from hormone-related diseases; however, research is still necessary and is ongoing.
The Best DHEA Supplements
Life Extension DHEA
This product contains 50 mg of DHEA and claims to help maintain and promote youthful amounts of DHEA and the sex hormones. This product comes pretty highly rated and can be purchased in dosages ranging from 15 mg to 100 mg.
This product contains 100 mg of DHEA in potent, quick-release capsules. It is highly rated by users and is free from the top allergens. It is a little more expensive than other DHEA supplements, but contains more capsules (200 capsules) than other products, making it probably the best value option.
Pure Encapsulations DHEA
This product contains 25 mg of DHEA. Thus company micronizes the DHEA, which helps increase absorption within the body. It is free from the top allergens and comes very highly rated at an affordable price.
DHEA Supplement Alternatives
Most young adults have healthy DHEA and hormone levels, so you do not need to supplement with DHEA or use alternative methods. For those individuals looking to increase their sex hormone levels and DHEA levels, dietary sources are available, especially through phytoestrogen products like soy products. Our body uses cholesterol to make DHEA, so healthy fats are crucial, including things like coconut milk, flax, avocado, and butter.
If you’re looking primarily for a supplement designed for hormone levels, there are a few alternatives out there, such as ATP Alpha Prime. If you’d prefer to target testosterone levels, there are supplements specifically for that as well, like Prime Male and Alpha X Boost.
There are no real natural sources of DHEA, but some research has shown that yams contain a substance that is similar to DHEA and is often used to make synthetic DHEA in laboratories.
DHEA Supplements And Your Health
DHEA naturally provides our bodies with the healthy sex hormone levels we need to function. However, individuals with fertility/sex issues or older adults may need to supplement with DHEA to help reverse the signs of aging and potentially increase libido and sex drive. There are quite a few associated benefits of DHEA supplements, however many of them have not been proven by research.
DHEA can increase your estrogen and testosterone levels, which makes it desirable for those of us looking to increase our sex hormone levels. However, use caution as altering these hormones can affect your entire body, and as a result, you should always consult with a doctor before use, especially if you have a pre-existing health condition.