I wanted to tell you a little bit about an often neglected hormone called DHEA. This is a hormone that can be important in aging, and it definitely declines as we age. Peak levels would be in your thirties and then they would begin to decline such that by about the age of 55, you’ve lost about 60% of your production of DHEA. It comes mostly out of the adrenal glands, although some of it is made in the ovaries in women and the testicles in men. DHEA is considered to be a neuro hormone, it mostly has effects supporting the brain, particularly with mood, memory, concentration, and multitasking. It also assists the metabolism and helps with fat burning to some degree.
For women after the menopause, it turns out that DHEA is the source of all of the sex hormones that your body is able to make now that the ovaries are no longer making them; that includes estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. For men, DHEA does not convert directly to testosterone, but it certainly does help to support mood and memory.
There are very few side effects associated with supplementing DHEA. It could cause a little bit of oily skin or acne, even a little bit of facial hair growth and certainly if the level was too high, we could start to see becoming a little bit angry or irritable and short tempered, so getting the dose right is important.
This particular hormone is available over the counter as a supplement in the United States, but in Canada, Health Canada regulates DHEA because it can convert to testosterone in women so it is considered an anabolic steroid for women, which is why it’s only offered by prescription in Canada.
My usual starting dose for women would be between 5 to 10 milligrams a day, whereas for men more like 50 to 100 milligrams a day. The testing of the levels of DHEA is usually not something that’s covered by MSP insurance so be expected to pay a little bit for the blood test if you want it to have your levels checked. If they are low, consider talking to your doctor about going on some DHEA as a replacement to help you with some of the effects of aging.
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