DHEA has been shown to boost cognition, memory, energy levels and motivation.
DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is often called the “youth hormone”. DHEA is the most abundant hormone precursor in the human body. And a source of your sex hormones.
DHEA is the most common natural steroid found in human blood plasma. But decreases by about 80% between ages 25 and 75.[i]
DHEA deficiency is suspected in many age-related health issues. Including declines in brain and nervous system function. The latest research shows that DHEA supplementation can have powerful neuroprotective effects.
If you are feeling tired and overwhelmed, have low sex drive, or regularly suffer with depression or poor mood, there’s a good chance your body is not producing enough DHEA.
- Brain Energy. DHEA helps to enhance neuron utilization of ATP. The primary energy source of brain cell mitochondria. Keeping brain cell ATP levels optimized helps prevent age-related cognitive decline.
- Neurotransmitters. DHEA levels are directly associated with neurotransmitters involved in concentration, working memory, and executive function.
- Mood. DHEA supplementation can improve mood and energy while alleviating depression. And has been found to influence gene expression in the brain. It modulates the expression of genes directly involved in appetite, energy utilization and alertness.
DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is the most abundant natural steroid hormone in your body. It’s sometimes called the “youth hormone”. And is a source of your sex hormones.
DHEA is naturally synthesized in your testes, adrenal glands, and brain. It’s a precursor to DHT and testosterone in men, and estrogen in women. And can activate both androgen and estrogen receptors.
Besides making DHEA, your adrenal glands also produce cortisol. Which is in direct competition with DHEA for production. When cortisol is high, especially for prolonged periods of time, your adrenal glands wear out. And DHEA production will decline.
DHEA can be made in the lab from wild yam and soy. But your body cannot produce DHEA from eating these foods. To boost DHEA you need to take it as a supplement.[ii]
DHEA Declines with Age
Your body’s natural production of DHEA varies with age. Low levels are produced before puberty. With peak production in your 20’s.
Between ages 25-30 to 75 your DHEA levels will drop by 80%. Affecting everything from alertness, memory, recall, and mood to sex drive. Its decline is even implicated in some neurodegenerative diseases.
The age-related variation in DHEA production has led scientists to believe that DHEA could be linked to the aging-process itself.
Many athletes use DHEA to increase muscle mass, strength and energy. But DHEA use is banned in the U.S. by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). It’s also considered a “banned substance” by the NBA, NFL, and United States Olympic Committee.
In Canada, DHEA is considered a ‘drug’ and is only available by prescription. Which says something about the power of DHEA. It’s technically a steroid, which may be why it’s included in with Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs).
In 2007, the U.S. Congress tried to re-classify DHEA as an “anabolic steroid drug”. Which means this natural human hormone would have only been available as a prescription drug. Fortunately, this legislation never passed and you can still buy DHEA as an OTC supplement in the U.S..
Here we’re talking about how DHEA affects your brain health and chemistry.
DHEA recommended dosage
Recommended dosage of DHEA is 25 – 50 mg per day.
DHEA is a strong steroid hormone. And low supplemental doses affect gene expression in inhibiting metabolic syndrome. DHEA supplementation boosts bone strength and enhances cognition and memory.
DHEA supplementation is not recommended for anyone under 18 years old. And like many nootropics, too much DHEA is NOT a good thing. It can lead to problems.
Many nootropics users and doctors recommend taking “hormone holidays”. In other words, use DHEA for a month then take a month off.
Supplementing with DHEA beyond the normal range may be advisable for short periods of time. Such as restoring a badly depleted adrenal system. But maintaining large doses of DHEA can lead to unpleasant side effects.
Note: If you have been diagnosed with a hormone-dependent cancer, you should not supplement with DHEA until your cancer has been cured.
DHEA Side Effects
Testing for DHEA levels is very important if you’re planning on supplementing with this powerful compound. Because if your hormone levels are normal and you start taking DHEA, you could experience side effects like acne, hair loss, tumor formation, heart arrhythmia, and insomnia.
At higher than 100 mg doses, DHEA has been linked to side effects. Many experts caution against high-doses of DHEA. Or long-term usage.