Updated: 01/12/2018

DHEA Review - 24 Things You Need to Know

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What is an endogenous steroid hormone? That’s DHEA, so we wanted to take a closer look, so we focused on all aspects of the hormone, side effects and clinical research. Additionally, we examined hundreds of user comments and reviews. Then, we condensed and summarized to give you the info you need.

DHEA Readers: Click here to find out why we're giving away samples of our product, Boost.

What is DHEA?

First off, DHEA is an endogenous steroid hormone.  Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a hormone, and a common supplement. DHEA has an impact on the level of other hormones in the body, and is produced naturally by the adrenal glands, the brain, and the gonads. You’ll find these glands right above your kidneys.

The hormone promotes athletic performance, increases libido and helps muscle-building by serving as a precursor to androgen and estrogen, two hormones that control gender-specific characteristics. The recommended serving, based on supplement manufacturer, is usually one to two 50 mg tablets per day.

As important as these hormones are to the body, scientists are yet to learn everything the hormones can do. One of its known functions is a precursor to female and male sex hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone. DHEA is a steroid from which these notable sex hormones originate.

DHEA production decreases as one gets older. It is at peak production when you are in your 20s, which explains why the DHEA supplement is popular among elderly people in particular. [1]

DHEA is made naturally in the body and is found in foods like soy and wild yam. Studies show that dehydroepiandrosterone levels won’t increase simply by eating either food. Supplements containing this ingredient are readily available and are relatively inexpensive. We like that it’s found naturally and that customers shared their positive experiences, but read on…

 

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How Does DHEA Work?

DHEA metabolism takes place in the adrenal cortex above the kidneys, owing to its high concentration of the CY17 enzyme. DHEA can also be produced in the ovaries, testes and the brain, where it can be synthesized independently and in much higher concentration.

DHEA can be synthesized to other useful derivatives in the body. Conversion of DHEA to the 7-beta and 7-alpha oxygenated metabolites is not restricted to steroidogenic tissues (ovaries, testes) and the adrenals, but can occur in the spleen, thymus, brain, ventral skin, intestine, colon, and muscle tissues. [2]

DHEA Claims

People adopt the use of DHEA supplements as they believe it boosts sex drive, can counter the effects of aging, helps to develop muscle, and is beneficial for some health conditions. There is no scientific evidence to some of these claims, as scientists don’t know everything DHEA is capable of.

Some of the supplements come with some risks, so you should seek a doctor’s advice before any treatment with a DHEA supplement. DHEA levels decline in both women and men as they age. Production of estrogen and testosterone also reduces with age, and manufacturers of DHEA supplements claim they can boost levels, with these results:

•    Developing the adrenal gland
•    Improving memory
•    Strengthen the immune system
•    Build up muscle and bone strength
•    Influence the usual changes that come with aging

However, studies have shown that supplementing DHEA does not seem to counter common aging side effects, such as reduced libido and bone metabolism. [2] [1]

DHEA Ingredients

As a steroid hormone, DHEA and its derivatives – such as 7-ketone DHEA and 1-androsterone – can be manufactured in the laboratory.

Since there is not enough available evidence to back up the claims commonly associated with this steroid, there is also not much information on its production rate. Some products are dietary supplements that contain DHEA or its other chemical derivatives.

It is common to associate DHEA with only a few ingredients, notably soy and wild yams. [1] [3]

Does DHEA Work?

Going by comments about DHEA from genuine users on health forums, there are few positive reviews. Some have said it doesn’t work for males. A consumer stated she had been using the supplement for upward of two months without any positive result.

Some did notice an improvement in their libido after treatment with DHEA. A user said, “Was prescribed 10mg of DHEA-elevating hormones… After 6 weeks…I was a bit stronger.”

Across the board, results from DHEA supplementation are very mixed. Some users and studies have reported positive effects on muscle tone, wrinkles, and libido, while other studies and users have reported no change after DHEA supplementation.

One study administered 100 mg of DHEA to advanced-age men and women for six months to determine the long-term effects of DHEA supplementation. “Biotransformation to potent androgens near and slightly above the range of their younger counterparts occurred in women with no detectable change in men. Given this hormonal milieu, an increase in serum IGF-I levels was observed in both genders but dimorphic responses were evident in fat body mass and muscle strength in favour of men. These differences in response to DHEA administration may reflect a gender specific response to DHEA and/or the presence of confounding factor(s) in women such as oestrogen replacement therapy.” [4]

This study suggested a lot of different factors contribute to the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of DHEA.

However, a particular DHEA product is garnering great on Amazon. All except one rate the product 4 out of 5, or above. One review recommended that people with serious health conditions should stay away from using DHEA. He had some strange effects, probably as a result of his condition, which supports advice you would receive from experts.

DHEA Benefits and Results

Evidence shows that using DHEA supplements have given some positive results for reducing depression at different levels, especially among the elderly. In a six-week research by the International Institute of Mental Health, treatments using DHEA supplements brought relief to middle-aged people with either moderate or mild depression. It is also seen to improve aging skin among the elderly. [5]

Other results from the NIH and the National Standard is unclear for the treatment of heart disease, cervical cancer, infertility, sexual dysfunction, low bone density, Rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s diseases and Schizophrenia. [1]

Details on DHEA and Weight Loss

You may be interested in using a DHEA supplement for weight loss, but results do not show any connection between DHEA and weight loss.

7-ketone, one of the derivatives of DHEA, is widely believed to make this possible but there is not sufficient scientific evidence to back up those claims. Most studies show there is no significant correlation between DHEA, high metabolism and weight loss.

How to Use (Take) DHEA

A DHEA dosage is commonly between 25 mg to 50 mg daily in a DHEA supplement. Taking 25mg for two-year periods, and 50mg for up to a year has been reported as a safe DHEA dosage plan. [6]

It is strongly advised you see your doctor if you have to use DHEA supplements, especially for an extended period of time.

Due to the complexity of the DHEA structure, supplements can cause various reactions when taken alongside other medications. You should be cautious when administering DHEA with the following:

•    Metformin
•    Alcohol
•    Thiazolidinediones
•    Antidepressants
•    Venlafaxine
•    Benfluorex
•    Canrenoate
•    Cardiac glycosides
•    Birth control pills
•    Gefitinib

The bottom line, as usual, is to consult your doctor. [7]

Potential DHEA Side Effects

DHEA supplements are a relatively new product, and side effects from long-term use are unknown. The side effects also differ according to age and medical history.

Commonly-reported side effects include:

  • Oily skin and acne, as well as skin thickening
  • Hair loss
  • Stomach upset
  • High blood pressure
  • Changes in menstrual cycle
  • Facial hair in women
  • Deepening of the voice in women
  • Fatigue
  • Nasal congestion
  • Headache
  • Rapid or irregular heart beat
  • Insomnia
  • Unfavorable changes in cholesterol levels

These side effects generally result from increased estrogen and testosterone levels. 7-ketone DHEA is one of the best DHEA supplement byproducts for reducing many of them. You should still exercise caution if planning long-term use of a DHEA supplement, and always consult a doctor. [8]

DHEA Product Warnings

DHEA is not suitable for everyone. It is important for you to read all instructions on the label before embarking on a treatment plan. Keep in mind that the effect on one person may not be the same for another.

DHEA has a complex structure and will react differently on individuals. These are warnings found on some DHEA products:  You should avoid if you are undergoing treatment for breast cancer or prostate cancer. Avoid if you are breastfeeding or pregnant.

Some supplements state that you should avoid if you’re below 30 years of age except recommended by your doctor.

Consulting a doctor is always the last advice after such warnings. [9]

Any DHEA Lawsuits?

Manufacturers of DHEA supplements have had a fair share of lawsuits levied against them.

In 2017, a federal lawsuit filed by an Arizona company claims Total Fitness Warehouse is profiting by a health supplement through unfair trade practices. The company’s SUP3R-1 1-Andro DHEA supplement is alleged to have ingredients that synthesis into the illegal and dangerous 1-Testosterone anabolic steroid. It is alleged the company purportedly gave various promises without stating the risks involved.

In 2013, Health Science LLC sued the FDA for their failure to confirm their product’s medical Food Status. The company accused the FDA of not confirming Prastera DHEA, but rather raised two concerns which the plaintiff said were irrelevant. [10]

DHEA Alternatives

Testosterone is a significant part of DHEA. Injecting Testosterone directly is an alternative to DHEA, and would in theory produce similar results as a DHEA supplement.

A research by S.T Page and fellow workers in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (March 2005), shows that medically-supervised testosterone injection improves grip strength, boosts athlete’s performance, improves lean muscle mass and has few negative side effects.

Pregnenolone is a steroid like DHEA that claims much the same benefits, but using Pregnenolone comes with an additional advantage. It raises the level of progesterone, which is a female steroid of which DHEA is not a precursor of.  In the publication by E.W Freeman in the Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology (2010), it shows that progesterone intake enhances mood score, among many other DHEA benefits.

Hormone therapy is meant to be administered under medical supervision. Do not attempt to purchase or use exogenous hormones without the consent of a physician.

A 7-keto DHEA supplement can also be purchased as an alternative to DHEA. [11]

Increasing DHEA levels

Certain circumstances can raise your DHEA level. For instance, caloric restriction has been shown to increase DHEA. This is the basis for the hypothesis that caloric restriction increases longevity. Regular exercise is also connected to increasing the natural output of DHEA. [12]

Buying DHEA over the counter

When buying any supplement containing DHEA over the counter, it is absolutely necessary for you to be aware of what you are buying. You should not self-medicate, but always act on your doctor’s recommendation. A doctor’s prescription may be required even when purchasing DHEA over the counter.

DHEA Muscle Building Facts

Many DHEA facts and claims exist, and you may be wondering about the impact of DHEA to raise testosterone levels, for the purpose of bodybuilding. Studies have shown there is no connection between DHEA and muscle building, and taking DHEA doesn’t in any way increase muscle strength or mass. [7]

However, research reports that DHEA supplement can improve physical performance in weak adults, and those with deficient adrenal gland problems. [7]

We can establish that DHEA doesn’t have any significant effect on bodybuilding, at least according to various clinical studies.

DHEA Can Increase Testosterone in Both Men and Women

Supplements containing DHEA are often used by athletes in the belief it improves muscle strength. We have already established the truth concerning this above. The body naturally produces DHEA in a controlled measure, as required. This is circulated around the body for cell functions. You should be mindful of synthetic DHEA supplements, because they increase testosterone levels in both sexes and should not be overused. If not controlled, this can have adverse effects on the body and growth levels.

DHEA Dangers During Administration

As with many prescription drugs, side effects are common, and there are DHEA dangers you should be mindful of. Any anabolic or pro-hormone supplement comes with risks. The higher the dose, the more dangers are involved. It is not only hazardous to your health, but can be harmful to others from the resulting effects. DHEA dangers may result in:

•    Aggressive behavior
•    High blood pressure
•    Psychological symptoms
•    Effect on cholesterol level
•    Liver problems

DHEA effect on Testosterone and Estrogen Levels

It is already established that DHEA can raise one’s testosterone level, as well the estrogen level in both men and women.

As a woman, you may experience some changes due to the increased testosterone levels. Your voice may change, and you may even experience facial hair growth or hair loss.

Likewise, DHEA can have undesirable effects for men such as breast enlargement, reduced sperm production, and shrunken testicles.

Why You need DHEA Test and Evaluation Before Dosage

Many cases involving the use of a DHEA supplement are for more serious medical conditions. It is the doctor’s responsibility to carry out adequate DHEA testing, and properly evaluate the situation before any dosage is prescribed.

DHEA interacts with other medications, and can reduce their effectiveness. You should be aware that using DHEA has some side effects, and adequate tests are necessary for your doctor to prescribe an accurate dosage level.

The Skin and DHEA Cream

When the production of DHEA declines at an older age, the skin is one shows these effects through dryness and wrinkles.

The skin is another rare spot in the body where DHEA is converted to other hormones. DHEA also serves as the base for sebum, the skin oil. This oil gives protection against carcinogens and keeps it hydrated.

For effectiveness in the body, DHEA must be released to the body in a bioidentical cream, for maximum absorption and proper function.

DHEA cream helps against aging by renewing the skin’s freshness and keeping it properly hydrated.

Not many DHEA creams are available, and a particular product seems to be dominating in this area.

Though reports have come out to support the anti-aging power of DHEA supplements, there are equally similar reports refuting the claims.

Studies by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and National Institute on Aging show there is not enough evidence on the anti-aging ability of DHEA.

DHEA Sulfate Low: Treatment Options

Doctors carry out DHEA tests to learn a patient’s DHEA levels. With this test, your doctor can determine the performance of your adrenal glands. Your DHEA level can be affected by your age and sex. If you are female between 30-39, the normal DHEA range is between 45 and 270 ug/dL. In the case of a low DHEA sulfate situation, treatment options include taking synthetic DHEA in cream form, or in pills. Surgery may be recommended for an adrenal tumor.

Affordability of the Best DHEA supplement

DHEA products on the market are quite affordable. Some products in stores cost in the range of $5 to $12 for 50 mg of 90 capsules. The same goes for DHEA for sale on Amazon. When looking for the best DHEA supplement to buy, the number of capsules and the milligram size are considerations that determine the price of the product.

What Users Are Saying

“”Great when I had hot flashes.””

“”Had to stop taking this as my DHEA levels became too high.””

“”Half my hair fell out… If you are wanting to take DHEA independent of a doctor’s supervision, then you might want to start out taking 5 mg.””

The Bottom Line – Does DHEA Work?

DHEA supposedly reverses the signs of aging; so what’s our take on it? Well, we like that it occurs naturally and is found in some foods, but we’re a bit hesitant about this one because the science is mixed when it comes to how well it works. Also, we have concerns about this one because users are talking about their lack of results and how it causes negative side effects.

Getting older doesn’t mean you have to slow down. We recommend going with a supplement packed full of ingredients proven to reduce the signs of low testosterone levels that’s not connected to harmful side effects.

Among the best products we’ve seen this year is our product called Pronabolin. The supplement contains nine clinically-tested ingredients. Results are often found in publications such as The Aging Male.

Also, we’re confident that you’ll love our supplement that we’re offering a 120-day money-back guarantee and multiple-bottle discounts, which is a good sign.

Learn More About Boost »
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DHEA

Q:
What are the side effects of DHEA?
A:

Common side effects of DHEA are congestion, fatigue, headaches, hormone fluctuations and insomnia.

Q:
What are the benefits of taking DHEA?
A:

The benefits of DHEA are decreased inflammation, higher bone density, improved libido and increased muscle mass. DHEA also boosts weight loss, lowers the risk of diabetes, improves the heart’s health, fights against depression and prevents cognitive decline.

Q:
How do I know if DHEA is right for me?
A:

Choosing the right product is the #1 question asked by DietSpotlight readers. We recommend trying any product before buying it and know that finding a product with a sample offer is near impossible - so we created our own product, Boost, with scientifically backed ingredients.

Click here to get your sample of our powerful testosterone booster today.

Q:
How does DHEA work in the body?
A:

In women, the body turns DHEA into estrogen and testosterone. Some women who take DHEA may experience changes in their menstrual cycle, facial hair growth, a deepened voice and acne.

Q:
Is DHEA a steroid?
A:

DHEA is a prohormone, which the body utilizes to make into a steroid; however, DHEA is not a steroid, and it does not possess the performance enhancing abilities of anabolic steroids.

Q:
What does high levels of DHEA mean?
A:

When DHEA levels are elevated, this may be an indicator of adrenal cancer, adrenocortical carcinoma, congenital adrenal hyperplasia, Cushing’s disease or an ovarian tumor.

Q:
What is the meaning of DHEA?
A:

A low DHEA level is an indicator of a lack of hormone production in the adrenal glands, which may be due to a pituitary gland disease or adrenal gland damage.

Q:
Where is DHEA produced in the body?
A:

The adrenal glands above the kidneys manufacture most of the body’s DHEA. However, some of the body’s DHEA is produced in the brain and reproductive organs.

Q:
Is DHEA an anabolic steroid?
A:

While androstenedione was included with other steroid precursors in the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004, androstenedione is an intermediary between DHEA and testosterone. Therefore, DHEA is not listed in this act.


Archived

Previous DHEA Review (Updated December 9, 2008):

What You Should Know

Dehydroepiandrosterone, better known as DHEA, is a naturally occurring steroid hormone that is secreted from the adrenal glands and is commonly present in the body in high amounts before the age of 25. DHEA is thought to be a natural steroid because it easily converts into testosterone, allowing easy duplication of this substance. For years, pushers of DHEA claimed it reversed the signs of aging because this substance decreases as one ages -- low DHEA levels are found in people with certain diseases and Anorexia Nervosa. Other claims are the ability to increase muscle mass as other steroids do and the ability to prevent multiple types of diseases. The latter claim is true, and hospitals are beginning to use DHEA as part of depression and lupus treatment. Its connection to diet? Early studies conducted on test rats show it helped control the rats' obesity rates. Scientists still stress that DHEA is relatively untested and that the effects and side effects with this substance are still not known. This makes DHEA a very risky substance and the way it affects the estrogen and testosterone levels in the body is another cause for concern. Despite these concerns, however, many diet companies are quickly touting this as a miracle drug.

Product Features

As noted earlier, early studies conducted on test rats showed DHEA helped control obesity, preventing further weight gain. This study alone drew in worldwide attention, including the Mayo Clinic, who considers DHEA a suitable supplement for controlling obesity. Therein lies the actual issue with DHEA. These studies revealed substantial results with animals, not humans, and current testing on humans reveal little changes -- these changes do not even affect weight control. Still, this has not stopped diet companies from inserting it into many of their supplements and calling this a miracle supplement for the ages. In our opinion, more testing is needed to confirm any dietary benefits for humans. On an additional note, DHEA is rumored to have very unpleasant side effects, but these effects are not necessarily confirmed either. The increase in testosterone and estrogen may cause the same side effects as typical steroids, such as facial hair growth for women and the development of breast tissue and prostrate enlargement in men. The bottom line here is that DHEA is too new to confirm any results for the average dieter, and it may not offer some of the benefits claimed by some diet companies.

Advantages

  • Early studies show DHEA helped control weight gain in rats.
  • It naturally occurs in the body, making this easy to produce and obtain.

Disadvantages

  • Current studies on humans yield unsatisfactory results.
  • DHEA may raise estrogen and testosterone levels -- it may also cause the same side effects as steroids.
  • Is still too new and most claims have not been confirmed as factual at the time of this review.

Conclusion

Diet companies consider DHEA a miracle weight loss drug, but scientists say otherwise and the results thus far have not confirmed these outrageous claims. Still, there is evidence it controls weight in rats, and further studies are needed to evaluate why this occurs (or how to duplicate this same effect in humans). Don't count out this substance just yet -- there is potential here that hasn't been tested but you will need to wait a while to see if DHEA really is a miracle drug.
Summer Banks Dietspotlight Author
About the Author:

Summer Banks, Director of Content at Dietspotlight, has researched over 5000 weight-loss programs, pills, shakes and diet plans. Previously, she managed 15 supplement brands, worked with doctors specializing in weight loss and completed coursework in nutrition at Stanford University. full bio.

11 DHEA Reviews

  • Can use it with other medicine?
    karen eddy

    was is the normal daily dose of dhea when used for menopause and should it be used in conjunction with estrogen,progesterone, as when used in biodentical hormone replacement therapy?

    Reply
    • tony

      ive been taking 100mg for a week with test boosters my test has risen i’m sure of that, gaind 1 or 2kg of mussel but labido is exactly the same, if not it drops from having it higher rather then lower, wen people say it helps with that its b.s its all about nerv fuction if that nerv is fuck or you have a large prostate it will close the singnal off to that aria testostorone only helps with the signal but it does not get stronger the more you take cheers hope that helps.

      Reply
    • tony

      people with real problems notice no help you need to repair the nerves, people with spinal injuries have lower libido you have to repare the nervs nothing known at the moment that can do that only stemm cell therapy but we are looking at 100k just to fix him up.

      Reply
  • It worked for me
    TDW (Verified User)

    I have been taking DHEA for 21 years – I have maintained a high level of energy in spite of bieng 69; have aged considerably in appearance; am able to exersize for 1 hour and 20 minutes every day – my appetite was never affected; I sleep well at night and I have maintained the weight that I had when I was in my 40s.

    Reply
    • Tomaz

      How much do you take?

      Reply
  • There is harmful ingredients in it.
    Hugh Woodward

    A study done by Dr. Fernand Labrie et al at University of Toronto Medical School shows that most DHEA is actually metabolised in the skin. DHEA is very effective if used as a transdermal supplement cream, the studies that are inconclusive have unfortunately just been done with oral DHEA supplements. Please teach your readers of this very important fact. Please feel free to contact me if you need further information at this email.

    Reply
    • steve

      plz tell me what brand of dhea you take,

      thanks, steve

      Reply
    • Andrew

      hello Hugh,
      i am 55 and i have few lb. too many. in bed is up and down. i know that dhea may help, but you are the first voice of wisdom; what formula, how applied, what the dosage, what brand is the best, other tests, research? can you answer any of it? i hope you are independent voice from the industry? regards, Andrew. could you kindly write to my private e-address, as i seldom go to this site, please

      Reply
  •  Loved the product
    lew (Verified User)

    I have been on 50mg of Natrol brand DHEA since 38, I am now 56 (so guess I AM that long term test guinna pig they seem to be looking for) I have NO health problems at ALL at this age, and can still outrun my 20 year old son, no blood pressure or colesterol problems, and am 5’10” at 145 (still wear the same pant size I did in high school. Personally, I swear by this stuff, and can definately TELL when i miss a few days (i have tested this theory my self many times through the years just to be sure it wasn’t the plecebo affect.. trust me, it isn’t. I still have a full head of hair (NO loss), can still keep up with 4-5 times a night in bed with NO assit, and am constantly told i look 10 to 15 years younger than i am……….and still FEEL 30 ! It someone is looking for a test subject, i’m your man ! 🙂 I’ll never stop taking it, i don’t care WHAT the research says are side affects..

    Reply
    • Cathy

      A question for lew. Can you please tell me how long it was before you started noticing a difference in the way you felt, mentally and sexually? Have hubby(age 52) trying this(50mg daily)and UNFORTUNATELY seeing NO results(taking for 3 months) yet. I just want my REAL husband back!! Thanks for your response!!!!

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        Get hubby on androgel. Start at 25mg per day and see what a difference that can make while STAYING on the DHEA. The packets are 50mg each, so start on half the pack daily to see if that helps him return to his old self..

        Reply