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Dehydroepiandrosterone

DHEA is a naturally occurring hormone and either exerts benefits on its own, or can convert into both testosterone or estrogen depending on the body's need. DHEA supplementation is potent for reducing the 'effects of aging', but appears quite unreliable in its benefits.

Our evidence-based analysis on dehydroepiandrosterone features 171 unique references to scientific papers.

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Summary of Dehydroepiandrosterone

Primary information, health benefits, side effects, usage, and other important details

DHEA is a naturally occurring hormone and either exerts benefits on its own, or can convert into both testosterone or estrogen depending on the body's need. DHEA supplementation is potent for reducing the 'effects of aging', but appears quite unreliable in its benefits.

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How to Take

Medical Disclaimer

Recommended dosage, active amounts, other details

Supplementation of DHEA appears to be effective in persons over 40 in the dosage range of 25-50mg, while prolonged usage of 100mg appears to be safe in this demographic. While the usage of DHEA in young persons for the purpose of testosterone enhancement is not clear, it tends to be used at 200mg for this purpose.

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Human Effect Matrix

Unlocked for Examine members

The Human Effect Matrix summarizes human studies to tell you what effects Dehydroepiandrosterone has on your body, how much evidence there is, and how strong these effects are.

Full details are available to Examine members.
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
Notes
grade-a Strong Very High See all 13 studies
Supplemental DHEA results in a reliable and significant increase in DHEA concentrations in the blood (both sulfated DHEAS and unsulfated DHEA)
grade-a Notable High See all 14 studies
There appears to be a notable and unreliable increase in estrogen following DHEA supplementation, with most research being conducted in menopausal women. This increase in estrogen has been noted in men as well, although similarly unreliable.
grade-a Notable High See all 18 studies
There appears to be an increase in testosterone following DHEA supplementation, but the vast majority of literature is in menopausal women (where testosterone contributes to libido). There is variability in the results, and DHEA is unreliable in increasing testosterone, but this unreliability extends to all demographics and subjects (with limited evidence of DHEA increasing testosterone in all studies including youthful athletes, which are less studied).
grade-b Minor Moderate See all 5 studies
Highly unreliable influences on cortisol, with decreases seen in studies where androgens and estrogens are also increased (with no significant influence or possibly an increase in other studies)
grade-b Minor High See all 6 studies
An increase in IGF-1 hormone levels may exist following DHEA supplementation, although this has only been investigated in older persons.
grade-b Minor High See all 4 studies
There appears to be a decrease in SHBG concentrations in older individuals who also experience an increase in androgen/estrogen concentrations, but this is similarly unreliable
grade-b - High See all 3 studies
Most evidence suggests no alterations to fasting blood glucose levels
grade-b - High See all 7 studies
Most evidence suggests no increase in bone mineral density, but this may be due to short trials (6 months). Longer trials note a small but unreliable increase in bone mineral density, so there may be a role of DHEA in bone health
grade-b - Very High See all 8 studies
No significant influence on fat mass appears to exist with DHEA supplementation in youth or in elderly persons
grade-b - High See all 3 studies
Most evidence measuring functionality in elderly persons have not found any improvement with DHEA supplementation, although it is possible that DHEA may play a role
grade-b - High See all 5 studies
Most of the evidence leans towards no significant influence of DHEA on HDL-C levels
grade-b - High See all 4 studies
Although there is some counter evidence, usually DHEA supplementation does not alter LDL-C concentrations
grade-b - Very High See all 8 studies
Perhaps due to a lack of studies pairing DHEA with a prolonged resistance training program, there is no evidence to support DHEA supplementation to increase muscular or lean mass
grade-b - Very High See all 3 studies
Insufficient evidence to support an increase in libido despite increases in androgen status
grade-b - Very High See all 3 studies
No significant improvement in power output has been noted with DHEA supplementation (studies mostly in older individuals)
grade-b - High See all 4 studies
No significant influence on well being is noted with DHEA per se, although it may come secondary to other changes occurring during DHEA supplementation (such as improved functionality in elderly persons)
grade-b - High See all 3 studies
Mixed evidence, but it seems that DHEA doesn't have a significant influence on triglycerides
grade-c Minor - See study
Possible increases in blood flow associated with DHEA supplementation
grade-c Minor Moderate See 2 studies
May attenuate the rate of cognitive decline in persons at higher risk, but this protective effect does not seem to be overly remarkable
grade-c Minor Very High See 2 studies
May increase DHT levels alongside testosterone levels, but this has only been observed in postmenopausal women
grade-c Minor Very High See 2 studies
An increase in fertility has been noted with DHEA supplementation
grade-c Minor Very High See 2 studies
Increases in free testosterone have been noted to coincide with testosterone increases (which are unreliable)
grade-c Minor - See study
Has been detected to increase nitric oxide concentrations in serum, needs to be replicated to investigate mechanisms
grade-c Minor - See study
One study has noted less small particles of LDL, indicative of less LDL oxidation; possibly protective effects
grade-c Minor Moderate See all 3 studies
There may be a decrease in cholesterol seen with DHEA in hypercholesterolemics, but it is not overly reliable
grade-c - - See study
Overall cognition not affected by DHEA supplementation
grade-c - - See study
No significant interactions with depression noted
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on erectile properties in persons with sexual dysfunction
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
No significant alterations in follicle-stimulating hormone levels
grade-c - - See study
There may be an influence (study noted both increases and decreases with high variability) but this does not appear to be a clinical concern
grade-c - - See study
No significant alterations in fasting glucose levels
grade-c - Very High See all 3 studies
No significant influences on insulin sensitivity seem apparent with DHEA supplementation
grade-c - - See study
No detectable alteration in serum liver enzymes (biomarker of liver damage) seen with DHEA supplementation
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
No significant alterations detected in luteinizing hormone levels
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
Mixed effects on progesterone (and 17-hydroxyprogesterone) leaning towards no significant influence (although increases have been noted)
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
No significant influence on PSA levels
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on sleep quality in menopausal women
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on parameters of stress
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on weight noted with DHEA supplementation
grade-d Minor Moderate See 2 studies
May increase growth hormone concentrations, but this appears to be unreliable
grade-d Minor - See study
An increase in plasma endorphins has been noted with DHEA supplementation
grade-d Minor Very High See 2 studies
Decreases in menopausal symptoms have been noted with DHEA supplementation
grade-d - - See study
No significant influence on serum T3 has been noted

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Things to Note

Is a Form Of

Primary Function:

Also Known As

DHEA, Pradesterone, Hydroxyandrosterone, 3β-Hydroxy-5-Androstene-17-one

Do Not Confuse With

DMAE (Compound structurally related to Choline), DMAA (stimulant)

Goes Well With

  • Aromatase Inhibiting Compounds

Caution Notice

DHEA may not be an approved substance for several sports leagues and organizations, and is currently on the WADA prohibited substances list&spreference;; please check with an authoritative body of your organization before using DHEA supplementation.

  • DHEA may not be approved by all sports leagues (currently on the WADA banned substances list[2]), check to see if this is on the banned substance list

  • At least one past report (1998[2]) noted that quality control on DHEA supplementation was subpar; current state of the industry is unknown, but it would be prudent to look for reputable suppliers

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Click here to see all 171 references.