1. What is it and where does it come from?
DHEA is an acronym for the hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (now you know why people use the acronym.)
It is the most plentiful androgenic hormone produced by the adrenal glands and it is quite important to body builders and athletes because in men, around 50% of all testosterone is derived from it, while women derive over 75% of their estrogen from it and nearly 100% after menopause. Levels of DHEA are quite high at birth, drop during childhood, and peak during young adulthood. The levels continue to drop throughout life. This hormone is available synthetically as a nutritional supplement from Bodybuilding.com.
2. What does it do and what scientific studies
give evidence to support this?
DHEA is HOT, and you will see why. As a pre-cursor hormone, as it leads to the production of other hormones. When this compound is supplemented, it has been shown to have awesome effects. Although the methods by which it actually works are not fully understood, research shows it may be a sort of fountain of youth, slowing the aging process. It has also been shown to help people lose weight, burn fat and build muscle, and increase sex drive. Dietary supplements of DHEA can help maintain proper levels in the body and can aid a person in their overall well being. University of California, San Francisco researchers found that DHEA levels are lower in people who are depressed, and supplements of 30-90mg per day reportedly improved their state.
Is there enough that can be said about DHEA? Apparently not. It may also have positive effects on reducing cancer risk, controlling immunity, regulating blood sugar levels, reducing blood pressure, and decrease allergic states. Research also shows that in limited trials, may help to increase lean muscle mass, elevate function of the immune system, lower cholesterol, and have reversing effects on diabetes.
3. Who needs it and what are some symptoms of deficiency?
Because DHEA levels decrease with age, people above middle age can have incredible results as the studies above have shown. It can aid people that suffer from depression and lupus; but, importantly, body builders or athletes can have some of the greatest beneficial results. They can use it to help build strong muscles and lower body fat. It is also said to help keep the brain clear and the skin smooth as well!
4. How much should be taken? Are there any side effects?
When used in the correct dosages, DHEA is great. But, with any kind or hormone or compound, when used incorrectly it can cause problems. The exact right dosage may vary with each individual, so consulting a physician is probably a good idea. But, a good recommendation to start with is between 5-25mg daily. Women and men over age 60 are commonly prescribed 50mg and 100mg, respectively. Obviously since younger people produce more DHEA naturally, they should take less. Pregnant or nursing women should not take it.