DHEA is widely sold all over the place as an anti-aging supplement and also to prevent a number of medical disorders. Others claim that regular intake of DHEA can increase energy and strength. So far the clinical research shows that DHEA can reverse, prevent aging or increase energy and is best used for older people whose DHEA levels are low. Even the people who claim to have taken DHEA for years have gone on to become old and develop wrinkles.
So what is DHEA?
Our body does make DHEA or dehydroepiandrosterone in the adrenal glands. These small glands are located on top of each kidney. All the DHEA made by the body is used up to make other hormones like the male and female sex hormones, including testosterone, estrogen and progesterone. Today, synthetic DHEA is readily available in many health food stores and consumed by thousands of people. In some European countries and Canada one requires a prescription to get DHEA.
In humans, DHEA levels gradually increase from puberty till about the late 30s and then start to decline. The decline in DHEA levels is said to be part of generalized aging. The decline in DHEA occurs at the same time as decreased muscle mass, reduced bone density and slowing of mental performance. Because of these observations, many people have been recommending DHEA levels to slow down the aging process.
However, people who have taken DHEA for decades have not shown any decline in aging and have continued to grow old just like everyone else. However, they appear to look well, sleep better and have a surplus of energy. A few studies have shown that DHEA in women may increase bone density and limit osteoporosis, improve concentration and cognition. However, these are not universal findings and only seen in less than 5 percent of women.
Moreover these results have not been reproducible nor have they been consistent. However, many of the older stars in Hollywood are using DHEA and it appears to help them look younger and stay healthy, Suzanne Somers, for instance.
In a recent study done at the Mayo clinic, researchers showed that DHEA supplements taken for 2 years had a few anti aging benefits. DHEA improves some symptoms in menopausal women. There is good evidence that DHEA can help adrenal insuffiency, high cortisol, depression and sleep problems. At the moment the evidence for DHEA an as anti-aging pill are not conclusive and there is the chance one risks developing some side effects. The most common side effects reported after taking DHEA include:
- Reduction in the good cholesterol
- Increased facial hair
- Oily skin
The long term side effects of DHEA are not known. However, there is a strong belief that prolonged use of DHEA can lead to excess levels of estrogen and testosterone. There is concern among health care experts that these elevated levels of sex hormones after the age of 50 may predispose the individual to a higher risk of breast, uterine or prostate cancer.
So this is the known data on DHEA. There are many alternative health care practitioners and anti aging fanatics who advocate use of DHEA as an anti-aging hormone. For those who would like to use the supplement, take note of its side effects and talk to people who have used the product.
Moreover, the DHEA on sale does vary both in quality and quantity. And there is the ever present risk that fakes and counterfeits may exist. Before you begin to take DHEA, you must get a blood test to measure the DHEA in your system t see if you require DHEA supplements.
As well as taking DHEA supplements, eat healthy, incorporate regular exercise into your daily life, don’t smoke, limit stress and get a health check up every now and then.