Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) EXPLAINED
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a multifunctional hormone that provides critical support to both men and women. Alongside its metabolite, DHEA-S, DHEA acts as a precursor for male hormones known as androgens and female hormones known as estrogens. DHEA also plays a role in hormone balance, youthful vitality and inflammation. Almost all DHEA is produced by the adrenal gland. Like other hormones, it gradually decreases with age, declining 1-5% every year in adults after age 30. To date, there are over 3,700 papers evaluating the effects of DHEA in the human body.
RESTORING YOUTHFUL DHEA LEVELS
Several studies show that low levels of DHEA-S are linked to numerous age-associated diseases, including general cognitive decline, bone loss, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, fatigue, depression, anxiety, sexual dysfunction and various inflammatory disorders. Restoration of youthful DHEA levels can provide a unique opportunity to mitigate the consequences of dwindling hormones. The rate at which DHEA is converted into androgens or estrogens varies among individuals and between genders. DHEA restoration should be viewed as an integral component of a comprehensive hormone restoration regimen rather than a stand-alone therapy.
THE ROLE OF DHEA IN INFLAMMATION AND MOOD
DHEA modulates inflammation by signaling the production of nitric oxide (NO). NO is an important regulator of blood flow and has the ability to stimulate the dilation of blood vessels. Inadequate NO production causes the long-term consequences of low DHEA levels – hypertension, cardiovascular disease and others. In the central nervous system, DHEA levels are anywhere from six to eight times higher than other areas of the body. As the central nervous system modulates the release and signaling of neurotransmitters, DHEA is involved in mood regulation and plays a role in anxiety and depression. As we age, cognitive function and memory become impaired due to the reduction of neurosteroids, like DHEA. This reduction is associated with neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.
HOW DHEA IS CONVERTED IN THE BODY
When taken orally, DHEA is converted to DHEA-S which has a longer half-life and is able to circulate in the bloodstream for greater lengths of time. DHEA-S is a reserve that bodily tissues can draw from. Once taken up by the particular tissue, DHEA-S is converted back to DHEA which is then locally converted into androgens or estrogens. Most of the benefits of DHEA are achieved after its conversion to the more potent male and female hormones, androgens and estrogens. Foods high in protein and saturated fat increase DHEA production. Conversely, the typical American diet that is high in carbohydrates from sugar, sweets and grains has been shown to deplete DHEA levels.
If you are interested in determining whether DHEA is right for you, please call Renaissance Health Centre at 702-258-7860 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Nicole Hujer.
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