DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) and anti-aging
DHEA or dehydroepiandrosterone, is a natural sterone produced naturally in the body by the adrenal glands and is the sole precursor and regulator for the natural production of every steroid and sex hormone in the body. In other words, without ample amounts of DHEA, the body may not be able to produce healthy levels of all other hormones it needs for a healthy life. DHEA is the most common sterone in human blood, but amounts decline rapidly with age. Secretions are highest during the early twenties and begin to decline at around age 25, by the time we reach 70 years of age, DHEA production is only a small fraction of what it was 50 years earlier.
The aging process is inextricably tied to a decrease in beneficial hormones, such as growth hormone, thyroid and DHEA, and an increase in hormones whose elevated levels are clearly harmful, such as insulin and cortisol. One of the primary changes felt with aging is fatigue. Whenever there is a loss of energy in the late afternoon, a decrease in productivity at work, an inability to exercise due to exhaustion or a feeling of unrest after a fitful night’s sleep, with the aging process comes listlessness. As such, a sense of frustration may occur along with becoming short tempered, being unable to concentrate and growing intolerant to change. And DHEA seems to be a key to understanding this fatigue that occurs with aging. For DHEA is necessary for the production of energy as it drives the energy producing parts of the cells.
DHEA is also vital to burning fat. That is why along with fatigue, elderly individuals often gain weight and store the fat thus gained in the abdominal region. Additional fat deposits are also found around the heart and in the blood vessels causing arteriosclerosis. Then, with the supplementation of DHEA hat is lost in the aging process, one may find his or her energy level be potentially improved. And with subsequent renewed energy, exercise and a change in life style, potentially the risk of some of these diseases may be lowered. In the medical literature and our practice, select patient population with chronic complaints of fatigue, headache, obesity, and depression, show low DHEA. blood levels. These DHEA values are expected in very old individuals. Could this information explain why these patients are relatively unable to function? It may further illustrate what a lack of energy does to the body’s systems: it weakens the immune system and the ability to fight infection. A biochemical explanation for such finding may show that the lack of efficient cellular energy production may be a cause for the vast array of choleric conditions. As such, further research may find that many illnesses thought to be psychosomatic are, in fact, precipitated by a state of DHEA deficiency.
Research has shown a correlation between low DHEA levels and a declining immune system, and DHEA is being used in the fight against HIV, cancer and senile dementia. It is also been clinically shown that DHEA helps brain neurons establish contact. Further, it is known that Alzheimer patients have low DHEA levels, when compared to their healthy counterparts. The amount of DHEA the body produces drops dramatically as people age. When the average person reaches 70 years of age, their body is producing only 10% of the DHEA it was at 25 years of age. This is why many medical researchers believe that regaining younger levels of DHEA is an important step in the area of natural anti-aging.
The dramatic drop in DHEA levels observed during aging parallels the development of degenerative syndromes such as immunosenescence, atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, cognitive decline, depressed mood and increased risk of cancer. The elderly suffer from a decline in DHEA secretion and a rise in cortisol. Those with very low levels of DHEA and higher levels of cortisol are most likely to suffer from dementia. The neuroprotective effects of DHEA replacement may be the most important anti-aging benefit, since ultimately there is nothing as important as slowing down the aging of the brain.
DHEA replacement therapy may be one of the most promising approaches to slow aging while reducing the risk of degenerative disease. DHEA supplements have been shown to help prevent cancer, arterial disease, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer's disease; treat lupus and osteoporosis; enhance the immune system; and enhance memory. In addition, DHEA is reported to rejuvenate virtually every organ system, restore energy, improve mood, increase sex drive, relieve stress, reduce body fat, and make the skin softer and hair shinier. DHEA gives people the ability to take control of the aging process, and undo the damage inflicted by time. One of the most commonly observed effects of taking DHEA is increased energy levels.
Like other anti-aging hormones, such as HGH, DHEA is produced by the body in abundant supplies during youth, reaching a peak around age twenty-five, then falling to much lower levels in later life. In the youthful prime of life, men produce approximately 31 mg DHEA daily, and women product approximately 19 mg. Sixty-five-year-old people only have 10 to 20 percent as much circulating DHEA as 20 year olds. Interestingly, only humans and primates show the endocrinological pattern of having very high prenatal serum levels of DHEA and DHEAS that drop to virtually none at birth, then rise again dramatically at puberty. After peaking in the years of the mid-twenties, the decline rate for DHEA and DHEAS is relatively constant at about 2 percent per year. Studies indicate that DHEA and DHEAS levels in young women are 10 to 30 percent lower than in young men, but with age these sex-based differences disappear as the levels of circulating DHEA and DHEAS drop. In the bodies of the elderly, the DHEA levels drop to virtually none just before death. Caffeine (from coffee, tea, sodas, chocolate, candy, medications, etc.) raises cortisol and lowers DHEA.
Some of the reported benefits of DHEA may be related to DHEA's role in stimulating production of HGH and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1). Some researchers express the opinion that while DHEA may slow some of the problems of aging, DHEA cannot reset the cellular clocks of aging, nor can it extend the maximum life span.