Diet and Nutrition

Do I Need DHEA Supplements?

Do I Need DHEA Supplements?

Key Takeaways

  • The effectiveness of DHEA supplements has still not been proven.
  • If you are going to take DHEA supplements it is important to discuss it with your doctor before consumption.
  • DHEA supplements have several harmful side effects, if not taken properly.

DHEA supplements have a multitude of uses, depending on what the individual wants to improve on or in his or her body. These supplements can be used for building muscles, it can be used as an anti-aging supplement, and it can even be used to aid general health conditions. Yet, what is DHEA? Are DHEA supplements really as effective as they have been claimed to be? Does everyone need DHEA supplements at some point in their lives?

DHEA, or dehydroepiandrosterone, is a pro-hormone produced by the adrenal glands located above the kidneys. DHEA is converted into male and female sex hormones in the body. Other functions of this hormone are still not fully understood. DHEA supplements are used as a means to improve the immune system, protect against aging, provide more energy, and build muscles in the body. In most case, DHEA supplements are commonly used to combat aging. Yet, there is no solid evidence that supports the management of aging by the use of these supplements.

The long-term effects of using DHEA supplements are not clear. There are prevalent concerns regarding the harmful effects of regular use of the supplements.

Studies show that these supplements can be useful to treat mild to moderate depression. It is also found to be useful to treat obesity, lupus, and adrenal insufficiencies, when used in a combination with regular treatment methods for those disorders. Yet, more studies are required to analyze the effectiveness of these supplements and how they can improve health conditions. There is no concrete evidence to show the effectiveness DHEA supplements have, regarding weight loss. If an individual tries to treat different diseases and disorders with DHEA supplements, it should first be discussed with a health care professional, because DHEA supplements may not be an effective form of treatment.

The side effects of DHEA supplements are hair loss, hypertension, nausea, changes in menstrual cycle, fatigue, head ache, irregular heart beat, and difficulty sleeping. An individual should discuss the side effects and long-term effects with a health care professional before taking these supplements.

DHEA supplements are often used by athletes to improve their performance, as this hormone is supposed to improve muscle strength. Unfortunately, the evidence supporting DHEA to improve athletic performance is unclear and not reliable. Higher doses of DHEA can result in stunted growth, aggressive behavior, hypertension, and the development of liver disorders. DHEA may also increase the risk of certain hormone-dependent cancers, like breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and prostate cancer.

An individual should discuss taking DHEA supplements with a doctor before consumption, due to possible drug interactions when taking other drugs.