Dehydroepiandrosterone, which is a naturally-occurring steroid hormone in the human body, is produced by the adrenal glands in both men and women. It gets converted into other hormones such as testosterone, estrogen, melatonin, etc., as per the requirement (if levels of these other hormones are found low) of the body. Being the precursor to over 50 other hormones in the body, DHEA is often referred to as the "mother hormone or master hormone". It is the most abundant steroid hormone in the bloodstream.
The normal levels of DHEA for women and men in the age group of 18 - 19 years, are 145 - 395 ug/dL and 108 - 441 ug/dL respectively. As we age, the levels of DHEA tend to decline. Mostly, DHEA is produced early in the morning by the adrenal gland, gonads, and the brain, and the levels of DHEA start declining as kidneys start clearing it up. Dysfunction of the adrenal or pituitary gland can lead to low DHEA. (Hormones secreted by the pituitary gland regulate the production and release of adrenal hormones.) DHEA is measured to assess the function of the adrenal glands. The doctor may check its levels in a woman if she has male body characteristics. And he may order a DHEA test, if a child is maturing too early.
Depleted levels of DHEA are noticed in all types of serious medical conditions such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and chronic fatigue. Therefore, people often wonder how to increase DHEA levels naturally. A number of factors can strip the body of DHEA.
- Exposure to massive amounts of electricity
- Consumption of too much vitamin C
- Excessive anxiety
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Excess weight
- Excessive anger
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Diseases like diabetes, cancer, kidney failure, anorexia, etc.
- Excessive consumption of medicines like insulin, steroids, and danazol
- Excessive stress
Symptoms of Low DHEA
- Chronic fatigue
- Reduced underarm or pubic hair growth
- Disappearance of hair on lower legs
- Unexplained weight gain
- Loss of memory
- Low energy
- Mood swings during periods
- Clogged arteries
- Low sex drive
- Joint pain
DHEA works well for age-related disorders, which is why it is often referred to as the "fountain of youth hormone".
- It helps improve memory.
- It strengthens the immune system.
- It gives more energy.
- It offers you glowing skin.
- It is also helpful in maintaining cardiovascular health.
- It aids in weight loss.
- It increases your HDL (good cholesterol) levels.
- It promotes sound sleep and boosts your mood so that you feel more relaxed and stress-free.
- Improved DHEA levels help reduce fear and stress.
- DHEA can block or reduce the mutagenic activity of carcinogens.
There are controversies regarding DHEA that is naturally produced by the body, and the synthetic DHEA that is available in the form of over-the-counter supplements. Prastera, Prasterone, Fidelin, and Fluasterone are some popular brands of DHEA supplements. These and other identical generics are available without a prescription. However, it must be noted that taking DHEA supplements can raise the levels of the hormone abnormally. The users may suffer from serious side effects of elevated DHEA. Extremely high dosage of DHEA may affect the function of heart in both men and women. So, dangers of DHEA cannot be overlooked. One should not opt for DHEA supplements without checking the existing DHEA levels and without consulting a physician.
DHEA supplements are available in the form of injections, capsules, or tablets. The usual daily dosage range is 15 to 50 mg per day. Though moderate increase in male hormones do help improve libido in women, high dosage of DHEA can lead to an increase in the levels of androgen (male sex hormone), which can result in increased hair on face or increased acne.
Raise DHEA Levels Naturally
- Enjoy outdoor activities at least for an hour every day. Join a laughter club. Laughing out loudly helps lower the stress. It promotes release of essential hormones.
- Lack of physical activity and DHEA deficiency go hand in hand. Regular exercise plays an important role in increasing DHEA production in the body. Exercise has other benefits as well.
- Following a low-calorie diet might help increase the levels of DHEA. Such diet also plays an important role in regulating the weight. It promotes longer life expectancy.
- Diet that is rich in animal fat can lower DHEA levels. Those who are obese are likely to suffer from low levels of DHEA. It has been observed that restricted intake of carbohydrates and fats helps raise blood DHEA. You should include complex carbohydrates (fruits and vegetables) and good fat (lean chicken, fish, olive oil, etc.) in your diet. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can increase the levels of this hormone significantly.
- Since stress lowers DHEA levels, it is necessary to lead a stress-free life. Practice yoga and meditation, as it could help relieve stress.
- Sufficient rest or sufficient sleep is necessary for proper functioning of the adrenal glands that produce DHEA.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.