Now I might be hitting on a raw nerve here for some of you, but remember when it was discovered Lance Armstrong was using testosterone to help boost performance on his way to winning seven tour titles?
Millions of people hated learning he was a fraud and a cheat.
Since then, it seems like every couple of days you hear about some athlete getting busted for using illegal substances.
Two days before I wrote this, tennis superstar Maria Sharapova was suspended from playing for two years because of illegal substance use.
The reason I write all of this is because I wanted to take the time to talk to you about a popular chemical that occurs naturally in your body that we recommend highly at my office.
I’ve written about this chemical before when talking about other bodily functions, but I think it’s a good idea to give it its own article today.
The chemical I’m referring to is DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone). DHEA is a hormone produced by your body and is involved in over 150 different functions.
Most people who are familiar with DHEA know it has a role in affecting the production of sex hormones like testosterone, androstenedione, estrogen, and more.
Because it’s a precursor to these hormones, it’s banned by the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), which is the ruling body for college athletes.
But just because it’s banned doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from supplementing with it.
DHEA: Where Did You Come From, Where Did You Go?
One of the things we do at our practice that many other doctors’ offices don’t do (or don’t have the capability of doing) is testing for low hormone levels.
A personal note:
I’d be willing to wager a slight majority of Americans have low levels of one or more essential hormones – especially due to things like stress, environmental factors, age, and the 2016 elections.
One of the hormones we find to be among the most commonly affected by the factors listed above is DHEA.
DHEA is manufactured in the body in the adrenal glands (as well as in the testes for men).
Because DHEA is closely tied to long-term stress management (along with cortisol), and because most people have a crazy amount of stressful demands, DHEA levels begin to fall.
And when DHEA levels fall it can produce some undesirable effects on the body.
Of course, by supplementing with DHEA, you can help to either stave off or reverse many of these crummy side effects of battling the 21st century.
Best of all? Unless you plan on participating in a wrestling match (or any athletic contest) in an NCAA sanctioned meet, you can start using it today.
5 Reasons Low Levels of DHEA Are Bad For You
If DHEA levels fall at any time, it’s likely you’ll deal with the following:
1 – Poor Reaction To Inflammation:
DHEA output is part of the body’s response to stress, and in many cases, prolonged or periodic stress can lead to inflammation. If left unaddressed, this inflammation can produce some pretty unwanted health consequences.
Now it has been established that DHEA can lower the production of another inflammatory cytokine as well, one called tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha). The levels of both IL-6 and TNF-alpha rise with aging, showing an increased inflammatory state and possible immune decline. The role of DHEA in regulating the immune response has been shown to include also the enhanced secretion of interferon-gamma. The decline in DHEA levels is closely tied to immunosenescence.
2 – Decreased Sexual Function:
As I mentioned, DHEA is closely tied to the production of sex hormones. If DHEA levels taper off and fall below normal, this can significantly affect your sexual health.
Most people mistakenly think, because DHEA is mainly tied to the production of testosterone, this is more of a problem for males. This is not the case at all – women need some testosterone in their body, as it’s involved in the production of estrogen and progesterone.
For men, DHEA supplementation of around 25mg has been shown to aid in supporting erectile function and libido. As it helps to increase testosterone levels, it can also help restore the verve and vigor many feel have vanished from their lives.
Women who take small doses of DHEA (10 to 25 mg) have been observed to see things like hot flashes, vaginal dryness and weight gain abate – or in some cases, disappear altogether.
3 – Weight Gain And Loss Of Lean Muscle Mass:
In several studies, it’s been noted those who deal with health issues like weight gain and metabolic syndrome are typically low in DHEA.
The reason this is true is DHEA is closely tied to your metabolism, as it helps the body use fat for fuel; it’s also vital in helping your body stay energized. DHEA helps accomplish this as it helps the body get glucose (blood sugar) to your cells for immediate use.
4 – Contributes To Mood:
DHEA is both a hormone as well as a powerful steroid. Its steroidal attributes are what help the body “run right,” and one of the major areas it affects is mental health.
There’s been ample research to suggest supplementation of DHEA will help support a balanced and elevated mood, including the sense of pleasure, energy, motivation, resilience to stress, and a sense of calm.
The way DHEA supports mental health has everything to do with balancing out levels of the main sex hormones estrogen and testosterone.
In an article about DHEA, Dr. Axe writes:
According to the National Institute of Health, DHEA can be used to slow or reverse [the progression of age-related cognition], including improving thinking skills in older people. However, high doses are often needed to achieve these results, which can be risky. Several studies found that taking 50 milligrams of DHEA daily for four weeks might also help [support] vision and memory loss in middle-aged and older adults.
5 – Can Cause Immune Issues:
Your body’s immune response is largely dependent on its ability to fight oxidization. It does this by engaging antioxidants and neutralizing the harmful effects of oxidization.
When DHEA levels are low, your body tends to oxidize (this leads to inflammation) at a greater rate.
Since DHEA is heavily involved in the immune response and in helping to neutralize the effects of free radicals and oxidization, if you’re low in DHEA you’re going to want to get your DHEA levels up. By doing so, it can help support your:
- Nervous system
- Gastrointestinal system
- And so much more …
A few promising studies have shown supplementation with DHEA can help alleviate these concerns.
Things to Know Before Taking DHEA
DHEA supplementation cannot be taken without a clear deficiency.
That’s why we recommend taking tests with your physician to see if DHEA supplementation is something you should pursue.
In terms of how much should be supplemented with, we generally recommend anywhere from 5-50mg depending on blood level.
It’s also recommended that you monitor your levels every 3-6 months to make sure your levels stay within their normal range.
The most popular DHEA product we offer to our patients is the one you see below but
I suggest you get a test to see where your DHEA levels are before getting it.