DHEA, a hormone naturally produced by the body and secreted by the adrenal glands, leads to the creation of sex hormones in men and women. DHEA levels begin to decrease in all people starting at age 30, and by the time people turn 70, levels drop 80 percent. Because taking DHEA Supplements can produce increased levels of androgens and estrogens, in theory, the risk of hormone-sensitive cancers, such as breast, prostate and ovarian, can be heightened. People should first consult with their doctor before using DHEA Supplements regularly.
DHEA Supplement Possible Benefits
According to MayoClinic.com, there is good scientific evidence for using DHEA supplements for a variety of reasons. They may improve a person’s quality of life by improving well-being, sex drive, exercise capacity and hormone levels in people who have reduced adrenal function. Most clinical trials show that DHEA Supplements may help combat depression and that they may help with weight loss in older people.
There are other benefits to taking DHEA Supplements. MedlinePlus, a service of the National Institutes of Health, reports that this supplement may improve the “appearance of older people’s skin.” It decreases age spots, increases skin thickness and gives the skin more moisture. A DHEA supplement may help men with erectile dysfunction achieve an erection and may help older women increase their sex drive. This supplement may also improve bone density, particularly in older people or in young women with anorexia nervosa.
A year long Italian study published in the December 2011 issue of Climacteric, the International Menopause Society journal, found that women who were taking a DHEA supplement had more interest in sex and were having more sex. The supplement also seemed to improve menopausal symptoms of hot flashes and mood swings.
The Best Form of DHEA Supplement
DHEA can be produced in laboratories from wild yam, but DHEA Supplements made from yam do no good because the human body cannot produce this hormone from the chemicals made from wild yam. Any products that are labeled as natural DHEA made with yam will not produce any benefits for people, according to MedlinePlus. To receive DHEA benefits, people need to take a pharmaceutical grade DHEA supplement that does not contain yam.
DHEA Side Effects
When taken in doctor-recommended dosages, which are typically 25 to 200 mg a day, a DHEA supplement has few side effects.
Because DHEA is a sex hormone, side effects may include acne, greasy hair and facial hair for women and breast tenderness, increased blood pressure and increased aggressiveness for men. If side effects do occur, a doctor or health care professional can adjust the dosage.
Side effects are more likely to occur if a DHEA supplement is taken in higher-than-recommended doses for a long time. Ray Sahelian, M.D. recommends that people who take a DHEA supplement take “hormone holidays,” where they take frequent breaks from the supplement. This means they can take them every other day, every other week or take them for a few months and then stop for a while.