DHEA is most commonly used by individuals over 40 to help restore the natural age-related decline of this vitally important pro-hormone. It’s reportedly shown to increase sexual energy in both men and women and may even help alleviate male impotence. Recently, it’s been used by some younger individuals to help raise testosterone production, which may help increase strength and muscle mass. DHEA isn’t for everyone, but it’s probably safe to say that the older you are, the more likely your body lacks adequate amounts and the more likely for DHEA supplementation to be beneficial.
DHEA is produced naturally in the brain, skin, and adrenal glands. And, DHEA supplements are produced commercially from wild yams (Dioscorea); however, this process requires a laboratory and six to eight complicated chemical reactions. In other words, our bodies are not able to separate the DHEA from wild yam.
While DHEA seems more appealing to aging adults, there is some belief that certain conditions may make it useful for younger people. For example, high-intensity training — especially overtraining — can deplete the body of testosterone. (Remember, DHEA is a precursor to testosterone.) Also, former steroid users often have lowered levels of natural DHEA because their natural production has shut itself off.
Although dietary deficiencies do not exist, age deficiencies (arising from the inability to synthesize DHEA within our bodies) may cause a supplemental need for DHEA. Natural DHEA production peaks in our bodies at about the age of 25, when it then begins to diminish quite rapidly until the age of about 60 when our bodies produce only about 10 percent of their previous, youthful levels.
Research indicates that DHEA may be useful in the treatment of:
DHEA serves an array of functions within our bodies, including sexual maturation, erectile function, fat metabolism, immune activation, and cellular energy production. Although a great number of research studies have been conducted on DHEA, little is known as to exactly “how” it actually works in the human body. What is known, however, is that it does have varying degrees of effects on both men and pre- or post-menopausal women. Beyond supporting natural testosterone levels, DHEA could be especially useful for older adults whose natural levels of DHEA have greatly diminished with age.
DHEA is the primary sex hormone produced by the adrenal glands and is sometimes called the “mother hormone” because it’s a precursor to many hormones our bodies need. The raw material for testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, and corticosterone, DHEA is, in fact, the most abundant steroidal hormone produced in the body. More loosely stated, as it “floats” through our bloodstreams, DHEA is converted as needed by the body into these other essential hormones.