Dehydroepiandrosterone is a complicated name for, DHEA, a steroid hormone that is often thought of as the “youth hormone”. DHEA is the main androgen precursor and is produced by the adrenal glands in both men and women.
Many of the body’s hormones work with a natural antagonist or balancer. It can be helpful to think of them in terms of a teeter-totter, with DHEA and Cortisol acting as a balancing pair. Unfortunately, as we age, DHEA levels fall while Cortisol increases. This leads to a significant imbalance and dysfunction within the body over time.
The effects of DHEA/Cortisol imbalance directly produce the ‘old person’ phenotype or look. This body state is referred to as sarcopenia and characterized by very thin arms and legs with a pot belly. Since our muscles determine our metabolic rate, sarcopenia leads to a reduced metabolic rate and weight gain in the abdomen. As well, we see loss of bone density due to a reduced DHEA/Cortisol ratio expressed over many years.
At True Balance we commonly use DHEA in a pill form to replace DHEA levels to those of a young adult. We do not believe that the reduction in DHEA levels that occurs with age is desirable. DHEA supplementation directly improves:
- DHEA is anabolic—builds muscle and bone
- Cortisol is catabolic—reduces muscle and bone mass
DHEA levels decline with age and for many DHEA supplementation restores energy, improves immune function and increases mental sharpness.
DHEA has a whole host of benefits but for some it can trigger negative side-effects including:
- mental function
- bone density
- cancer protection
- diabetes prevention
- heart disease prevention
If any of these symptoms occur a decrease in dose is recommended. You could use your current dose every other day until you are in for an appointment to discuss changes.
- greasy / oily skin
- facial hair growth
For individuals experiencing negative symptoms DHEA’s metabolites, 7-Keto DHEA is unable to convert into Testosterone meaning while receiving many of the same benefits it does not produce the same side effects as standard DHEA. Although, it comes with a trade-off as it also means we are unable to measure these levels within the blood as with regular DHEA.
- can take with thyroid medication or vitamins & supplements
- take with or without food
- most patients feel best when this is taken in the morning
- refer to your patient checklist for personalized dose information