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DHEA Supplements – Who Should Take It? What are Its Health Risks?

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DHEA Supplements are used to build muscle, fix some of the health problems and reverse the signs of aging by some people. But most of these claims are not scientifically proven yet. In fact, these supplements also impose some health risks. Read on to know what science actually claims about DHEA supplements and what we should know regarding safety.

About DHEA

Dehydroepiandrosterone or DHEA is a hormone which is produced by the adrenal glands of the body. These glands are located just above the kidneys. DHEA supplements are likely to be made of soy or wild yam.

There is a lack of proven information about what DHEA does. But it is evident that it works as a precursor to female and male hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone. Precursors are known to be the substances that body converts into a hormone. The production of DHEA starts in the mid-twenties. The production eventually declines with age.

DHEA Supplements

The production of Estrogen and testosterone also slowly reduces with age. The level of such hormones can be increased by consuming DHEA supplements. This is the reason a lot of claims have been made when it comes to their potential health benefits. There are a lot of benefits of DHEA supplements claimed by the users –

  • Builds up adrenal glands
  • Provides more energy
  • Strengthens immune system
  • Slows down natural changes which come with age in the body
  • Improves memory and mood
  • Builds up muscle strength and bone

Uses of DHEA Supplements


Since DHEA levels are known to reduce with age, some of the researchers believe that taking DHEA supplements to keep hormones from falling in the body. According to some small studies, there are several studies which don’t have reported any effect. According to the National Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine and the National Institute on Aging, it is a lack of scientific evidence that is known to support the concept that DHEA can affect aging effects. There are some concerns with the constant use of these supplements that can be dangerous.

Weight Loss

A DHEA supplement version 7-Keto has been promoted widely as an aid to raise metabolism and reduce body fat. The fact is that higher metabolism and leaner body tissue can help burn calories in a very effective way and it can be easier not for weight loss, but it also helps to keep it off. Sadly, a lot of studies show little effect in weight loss or higher metabolism due to DHEA. It is wise to ask the nutritionist or doctor before buying DHEA supplement to lose pounds.

For Health Conditions

These supplements show some of the promises to ease moderate and mild issues of depression. But it needs a lot of research. In a 6-week small study, the National Institute of Medical Health researchers has found the treatment with these supplements to relieve depression from mild to moderate levels which occur in some of the middle aged people. DHEA may also help improve signs of aging in elderly.

For various concerns, both NIH and National Standard claimed that evidence is not clear whether DHEA provides any remarkable benefits in following conditions –

  • Heart disease
  • Low bone density
  • Cervical cancer
  • Infertility
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Schizophrenia
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Infertility
  • SEID or systematic exertion intolerance disease (also known as chronic fatigue syndrome)
  • Sexual dysfunction

According to the research, DHEA may not be proved helpful to treat fibromyalgia, psoriasis, dry mouth, rheumatoid arthritis, or mental decline.

Side Effects

Here are some of the side effects –

  • Hair loss,
  • Acne and oily skin, along with skin thickening
  • High blood pressure
  • Stomach upset
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in menstrual cycle
  • Deeping of voice
  • Facial hair
  • Headache
  • Nasal congestion
  • Insomnia
  • Irregular or rapid heartbeat
  • Unusual cholesterol level changes

Some of the above side effects can be caused due to the increase the level of estrogen and testosterone in your body. According to medical experts, only a little information is available about the prolonged effects of without consulting with the doctor.

Athletic Performance

Sometimes, athletes use DHEA supplement to improve endurance levels. It is claimed that it is helpful to build muscle mass and improve stamina. DHEA is actually a pro-hormone which can boost the level of steroid hormones like testosterone. There is a lack of evidence to prove that DHEA can help improve muscle density. The use of this supplement is banned in National Football League, National Collegiate Athletic Association and Major League Baseball and other sports organizations. With any pre-steroid enhancer, there are certain risks. The risks would be greater with a higher dose. Here are some of the possible side effects –

  • Roid rage or aggressive behavior
  • Permanent growth stunting
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Mood swings and various psychological problems
  • Liver problems
  • Higher blood pressure
  • Cholesterol level changes


DHEA Supplements caretricks

Since DHEA is responsible for increasing estrogen and testosterone levels, women using DHEA can have some permanent side effects like hair loss, voice changes, facial hair growth etc.

Sometimes men can also experience some symptoms like shrunken testicles, breast enlargements, and reduced production of sperm.

Talking to the Doctor

So, if you still think DHEA supplements may help you deal with certain health concerns, think again! Be sure to discuss your doctor before using any of these supplements. Here’s why you should ask the doctor –

  • There are several claims which prove that DHEA causes certain medical conditions and one has to evaluate these conditions with the help of a doctor
  • Since DHEA can increase the level of both female and male hormones, DHEA supplements can cause several negative effects and hormone-sensitive cancers like ovarian, breast and prostate cancer.
  • There are certain medications DHEA can interact with and they can make changes in their effectiveness
  • DHEA can cause a lot of side effects and some risks, though it occurs usually at a higher range of dose.