DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) is produced in the adrenal glands from pregnenolone and eventually converted into testosterone, estrone, and estradiol. The marked reduction in DHEA by the adrenals during aging results in a dramatic fall in the formation of active sex steroids in peripheral target tissues. This creates a situation which is thought to be associated with a long series of age related decreases such as insulin resistance, obesity, muscle mass, bone and cardiovascular health.*
It is the most abundant circulating steroid hormone in humans, where it functions predominantly as a metabolic intermediate in the biosynthesis of the androgen and estrogen sex steroids.*
DHEA supplementation has shown an ability to return blood sex hormone levels to those enjoyed in younger years. DHEA in appropriate replacement doses appears to have remedial effects with respect to its ability to induce an anabolic growth factor, increase muscle strength and lean body mass, support immune health, and enhance quality of life in aging men and women.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA, more correctly Didehydroepiandrosterone) is an important endogenous steroid hormone. DHEA is a “parent hormone” produced by the adrenal glands near the kidneys and in the liver. It is changed in the body to a hormone called Androstenedione. Androstenedione is then changed into the major male and female hormones.
DHEA is produced from cholesterol through two cytochrome P450 enzymes. Cholesterol is converted to pregnenolone by the enzyme P450 scc (side chain cleavage); then another enzyme, CYP17A1, converts pregnenolone to 17α-hydroxypregnenolone and then to DHEA.
Although it predominantly functions as an endogenous precursor to more potent androgens such as testosterone and DHT, DHEA has been found to possess some degree of androgenic activity in its own right.* Unlike the case of the androgen and estrogen receptors, DHEA does not bind to or activate the progesterone, glucocorticoid, or mineralocorticoid receptors.
Regular exercise as well as calorie restriction is known to increase DHEA production in the body. DHEA balance in the body helps to support memory and cognition, joint health, energy, fatigue reduction, cholesterol balance, wellness and mood.*
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