What is DHEA Hormone?
DHEA stands for dehydroepiandrosterone. It is a hormone secreted by the body mainly through the adrenal glands. It is said to be the source or precursor of androgens, estrogens, and progesterone – the male and female sex hormones.
DHEA levels in the body peak at around age 25 and may start to decline as a person reaches the age of 30. With this decline, many age-related conditions are associated with it including blood sugar problems, decrease in sexual desire or urge, dysfunctions in the immune system, heart disease, obesity, and even mental disturbances.
Other than the age-related factor, there are also other instances wherein DHEA levels are lower than normal. It has been reported that those suffering from Type 2 Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes, anorexia, adrenal problems, and AIDS have very low DHEA hormones in their bodies. Studies have also shown that the critically ill have little of these hormones. Some drugs like opiates, corticosteroids, and insulin may also result to decreased DHEA levels.
DHEA today is part of several anti-aging treatments in the form of supplements. Many have promoted its usage to combat the ill-effects of the natural decline of these hormones as people grow old. But aside from DHEA’s anti-aging effects, studies have shown that it can also help in people with adrenal problems like Addison’s disease. For people suffering from this type of disease, body composition and androgen levels were improved with DHEA. People with depression, and SLE or systemic lupus erythematosus have also benefited from DHEA treatments.
There is ongoing research on DHEA’s long-term effects on the body. Many caution though that taking supplements should always be coordinated and consulted with doctors. Although it is considered safe, many experts would like people to know that DHEA is a hormone and not just some nutrient or vitamin that anybody can use or abuse.