It seems that DHEA supplements may be able to increase the body's capacity to transform food into energy and burn off excess fat. In addition, researchers have discovered anti-inflammatory properties of DHEA.
DHEA - The Most Abundant Hormone in Body
DHEA Decreases with Age
DHEA has been shown to be the most abundant hormone in your body. It appears that production of DHEA peaks at around age 20. DHEA levels then continually decreases with age. At age 40, your body makes about half as much DHEA as it did earlier. By age 65, DHEA levels drop to 10 to 20 percent of optimum levels and by age 80, it is less than 5 percent of what is considered best.
Age Related Illness
Since levels of DHEA continue to decrease with age, it would make sense that supplementing with DHEA could possibly reverse aging. It is not clear, however, there have been some studies of laboratory animals that were given DHEA supplements that lived up to 50 percent above their usual lifespan. Since these trials have not been performed yet with humans, it is not clear if the same benefit would apply.
Several studies propose that the lower a person's level of DHEA, the greater the risk of death from age-related illness. In one of the more interesting studies, the DHEA levels in 242 men between the ages of 50 and 79 were tracked for 12 years. This study was performed by noted researcher Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, M.D., professor and chairperson of the department of preventive medicine at the University of California, San Diego. The study revealed a close correlation between higher DHEA levels and reduced risk of death from all causes. The men who survived had three times the DHEA levels of the men who died.
Decreased DHEA levels have been implicated as a causal factor in a myriad of chronic ills, including: Alzheimer's disease, autoimmune disease and other immunological disorders, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, memory problems, obesity, osteoporosis, and stress disorders.
Since, the immune system is especially sensitive to diminishing DHEA levels; DHEA supplementation may help the immune system fight viruses, bacteria, and other microbes.
DHEA and Menopause
Many women are reporting benefits of taking DHEA for their menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats, without any side effects of any kind. During a year-long study in Italy, 20 menopausal women took 25 milligrams of DHEA. In these women, estrogen, testosterone, and dihydrotestosterone increased by between three and four times, while progesterone increased nearly 100%. The head researchers Dr. Alessandro Genazzani from the University of Modena in Italy suggest that one day, DHEA may replace hormone replacement therapy.
DHEA recently has also been found to reduce risk factors associated with age-related heart disease. DHEA has been shown to improve blood vessels by stimulating the arteries to produce more nitric oxide, which relaxes arterial tension.
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