DHEA - Dehydroepiandrosterone

What Is DHEA?

Dehydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA, is a steroid hormone, a chemical cousin of testosterone and estrogen. It is made from cholesterol by the adrenal glands, which sit atop each kidney. For the first few years of life, the adrenals make very little DHEA. Around age six or seven, they begin churning it out. Production peaks in the mid-20s, when DHEA is the most abundant hormone in circulation. From one's early '30s on, there's a steady decline in DHEA production, so the average 75-year-old has only 20% of the DHEA in circulation that he or she had 50 years earlier. At all ages, men tend to have higher DHEA levels than women.

Some researchers consider DHEA a possible anti-aging hormone because DHEA deficiencies in older individuals have been associated with a number of medical conditions including breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, impaired memory and mental function, and osteoporosis. In addition, population-based studies have suggested that people with higher DHEA levels tend to live longer, healthier lives than those with lower levels of DHEA. However, low levels of DHEA being linked to certain diseases does not necessarily mean that DHEA supplements will reduce the risk or improve the outcome of these conditions.

DHEA is available in capsules, chewing gum, drops that are placed under the tongue, and topical creams. Check with a registered medical practitioner before experimenting with this supplement as there are conditions attached to side effects and appropriateness.

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