DHEA Supplements: Benefits, Uses, Side Effects, Dosage and Effectiveness

The Best DHEA Supplement Benefits

What is DHEA?

Among the most popular supplements out there – protein powder, fish/krill oil, BCAAs and the like – you’ve probably encountered DHEA (or dehydroepiandrosterone). It’s a hormone secreted by the various adrenal glands in the human kidneys, and it plays a major role in over 150 of the body’s metabolic functions.

DHEA is a precursor for male and female sex hormones because DHEA can be converted under the right conditions into either estrogen or testosterone. Because estrogen and testosterone drive many functions within the human body, DHEA is instrumental in muscle development, fat loss, sex drive, and a hundred or more other processes.

Because DHEA secretion and production peaks in your mid-20s and then begins to decline, supplementation is thought to provide a lot of benefits that assist with aging. Because DHEA hasn’t been studied as exhaustively as other hormones, scientists do not even know the full range of how it interacts with your other bodily systems, nor what its decline with age fully signifies.

DHEA Benefits

Because scientists are aware of some of the most important facets of the hormone, the value of taking it as a supplement has been taken seriously for years now. At worst, there’s definitely a negative correlation between symptoms of aging and the reduction in available DHEA in the body. At best, DHEA supplementation shows promising results in multiple aspects of total well-being.

1. Muscle Development

Because DHEA can convert to testosterone, it’s heavily implicated in the growth and maintenance of muscle mass, particularly in the late teens and early 20s. Because of the fact that muscle development during this period can be significantly easier than it is earlier and later in life, there is strong evidence that points to high levels of DHEA as the cause.

2. Fat Loss

Since the body responds to high DHEA levels so well in terms of muscle building, it’s surprising that it also responds to DHEA by making your body better at burning fat. It’s often thought that the human body cannot build muscle while losing fat at the same time – these are both different processes, one relying on the breakdown of tissue and the other relying on the building of tissue. Regardless, DHEA supplementation strongly correlates with decreasing body fat, and that’s never a bad thing.

3. DHEA and Bone Loss

A prominent sign of aging – bone density loss – is also thought to be linked to chronic, low, DHEA levels. With low mineral density in your bones, you’re at a much greater risk of fracturing or breaking something, along with a much greater risk of osteoporosis. The one caveat about supplementing DHEA for bone loss, however, is that bone regeneration is a painfully slow process, so supplementation needs to be a long-term endeavor, if not a lifelong one.

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4. Mental Health

While many risk factors are implicated in the development of mental health disorders, low DHEA is among them and is fairly easy to fix with supplementation. Age-related cognitive decline seems to also have low DHEA as a contributing factor, as do many mood disorders. Finally, supplements have shown to have a positive impact on simple, everyday mood and energy levels, irrespective of pre-existing mental health disorders. Read also how Nootropics can make you more productive at work

5. Heart Disease and Cancer

There is a definite link to lower levels of DHEA and the development of heart disease. While it’s known that DHEA can increase or imbalance levels of cholesterol in the blood, how it ultimately affects heart disease risk is still being studied. One thing we know for sure is that omega-3s(which can be supplemented using krill oil) is highly beneficial for a healthier heart.

A deficiency in DHEA, like a deficiency in estrogen, can be linked to the development of breast cancer. Because of its use in the easing of menopause symptoms, it’s also likely worth continuing supplementation if there’s even a small chance it could prevent breast cancer.

Related: Testosterone boosters – What are they?

DHEA Side Effects

Because DHEA is a precursor hormone, it can help solve many problems associated with decreased hormone levels in the blood, which is great! It can, however, have some side effects associated with excess hormone levels, some of which include:

  • Hair loss (in men and women)
  • Menstrual changes
  • Facial hair growth in women
  • Deepening of the voice
  • Fluctuations in fertility

Because of the fact that all of the potential effects of DHEA on the body aren’t fully understood, some other common side effects (due to the fact that this is an adrenal hormone) are:

  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Changes in serum cholesterol
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Insomnia

A common side effect of supplementation is an upset stomach, which can sometimes lead to vomiting. This, however, can be offset by building up your dose slowly, taking it with food, and staying within your recommended dosage range. Finding the best DHEA supplement for you can take a bit of investigating, but it’s completely worth it in the long run.

Related: The most dangerous threat to your immune system

DHEA Dosage

Dosage is pretty straightforward for all age groups, though it differs between the sexes. A male over the age of 20 should supplement about 50mg of the best DHEA supplement available. It’s also reasonable that men under the age of 25 take 25mg, as the body’s creation of the hormone, is still upregulated until the mid-to-late 20s, and taking too much via supplementation will cause the body to produce less, which is a waste.

For women 20 or older, 25mg is sufficient. It is worth noting, however, that women who suffer from adrenal insufficiency, autoimmune disorders, or a nutrition deficit (as would be caused by bulimia or anorexia) should supplement 50mg instead. When selecting your product, keep in mind that the best DHEA supplement will have very little other ingredients – don’t buy something that combines DHEA with another hormone or chemical. Supplements like that only dilute the positive effects of both ingredients, rather than enhancing the efficacy of either.

Related: Creatine supplementation to improve muscle mass

How long does is take DHEA to work?

This isn’t as simple an answer as you might think, as multiple factors go into it. One of the main questions is whether or not your adrenal glands are fatigued already. If the output of DHEA is low, supplementation is a stopgap at best and at worst, it will still downregulate the natural production of the hormone, which will mean increasing supplementation to get meaningful results.

Assuming your adrenals are reasonably healthy, it then depends on what you’re taking the DHEA for, and the dosage. For mental health, it can work within days, elevating mood and lowering anxiety responses. The same can be said for lowering stress levels and helping to burn fat more quickly.

For something like bone loss or muscle development, it can take much longer, and even with the best DHEA supplement, everything will go faster if you also add in exercise. Weight training has a powerful impact on bone strength and of course muscle development, so combining it with the best DHEA supplement available to you will speed up the beneficial effects.

No matter what, it’s worth talking to a medical professional about supplementing DHEA, and seeing for yourself the myriad of health benefits it has to offer.

Related: How to increase testosterone levels without supplements

The Benefits of Cold Showers for Your Health, Body and Mind!

If you could do one thing each morning to improve nearly every aspect of your health, would you do it?

Well my cautiously courageous reader, that one thing is simply plunging yourself into a crisp icy cold shower in the grey hours of the morning. Even the Tony Robbins and Tim Ferriss take cold showers every morning.

Still with me?

Good!

You are quite the little adventurer. This character building activity you so boldly agreed to do does indeed have numerous health benefits at the low cost of a few gallons of water and the bravery of your soul.

A Benefit of Cold Showers Gets the Blood Moving:

While you may think a cold shower would stop your heart outright, it actually improves its function. The cold water increases blood circulation which is needed for growth and repair of vessels. Plus, better circulation improves the ability to circulate the things in your body that you need, i.e. hormones, oxygen, and nutrients. On the flip side, it also works to flush out what you don’t want hanging around, like CO2 and tissue-damaging toxins.

blood flow in body

Increases Norepinephrine:

One hormone and neurotransmitter in particular that cold exposure increases is norepinephrine. If you were to immerse yourself into water temperatures of 40°F for 20 seconds or use whole body cryotherapy for 2 minutes at -166° F, increases in plasma norepinephrine of 200-300% could be seen. Although, if you drop the water temperature to 57°F for 1 hour, the release of norepinephrine increases by 530%!

So why is it important to boost the production of norepinephrine?

Norepinephrine is critical for alertness, focus, and attention. 

This is why after a cold shower you feel so refreshed and alert for hours!!!

This hormone has major impacts on pain, metabolism, mood, concentration, cognitive ability, and attentiveness. It even has the ability to decrease tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), which is known to increase inflammation and is associated with Type 2 diabetes, cancers, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Watch Dr. Rhonda Patrick talk about the benefits with Joe Rogan in episode #773.

Weight and Fat Loss:

The cold jolt you get from a chilly shower can help you shed some pounds and fat, via thermogenesis. Through this, you can get a boost in your metabolism, lower blood sugar, and spur brown fat (mitochondria-packed fat that generates heat…aka “good fat”) to burn your white fat (that’s the stuff that hangs around your belly and thighs…”bad fat”). The cold exposure accomplishes a lot of this because it releases the hormone adiponectin. This nifty little hormone helps to break down fat and shuttles glucose into your muscles. Low levels of adiponectin are associated with obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. So you definitely want more of that little helper hormone!

Improves Immunity:

Cold exposure can raise levels of white blood cells that help fight disease and infection. Due to cold exposure, norepinephrine release is stimulated, which encourages leukocytosis and granulocytosis, an increase in natural killer cell numbers and activity, and a boost in circulating levels of interleukin-6. All these things combined improve immune function. One step further, cold exposure increases your cell’s longevity. It works much like calorie restriction works to clean up damaged cells and keep the hardy cells kicking like they should.

Related: Enhance your immunity with green superfood drinks

Reduces Inflammation:

If you have soreness, fatigue, pain, or damage brought on by rigorous workouts, rheumatoid arthritis, or some chronic condition, then you know what inflammation is. Allowing your body to indulge in cold therapy can actually reduce the inflammation produced by those things. Doing this can reduce brain decline, premature body aging, and pain, as well as speed tissue healing, making your body feel better overall now and into the future.

Creates Happiness: Yes, when first thinking of subjecting yourself to icy temps of a cold shower your mind does not automatically go to thoughts of joy and bliss. However, the cold from the shower can actually enhance hormone production, including serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, melatonin, and testosterone. A boost in all these improves mood, reduces anxiety and depression, helps you sleep better, enhances libido, and gives you an overall sense of wellbeing. So yes, a frosty shower does equal the warm fuzzies.

Increase in Mitochondria:

RNA Binding Motif 3 (RBM3) is a cold shock protein in our brains, hearts, livers, and skeletal muscles that are of particular interest. When exposed to cold, synapses between neurons actually break down. However, as our bodies warm back up the lost synapses regenerate, but are dependent on the activity of RBM3. So, we have the amazing ability to regenerate parts of our brain if we have appropriate levels of RBM3 and cold exposure enhances our levels! Even a 2°F drop in body temperature will boost RBM3, which is a highly attainable temp drop. This could have astounding impacts on combating neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as well as muscle atrophy, particularly as we age.

PGC­1α is a gene that is activated by cold exposure. This gene is important because it is the master regulator of mitochondrial biogenesis. This action is extremely important because, as we all learned in grade school science, mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell! Therefore, creating more of them will increase the capacity of the muscles to resist fatigue and improve aerobic capacity, as well as boost our fat burning capabilities! All this will increase athletic performance and muscle building capabilities. In essence, bumping up your mitochondria numbers will make a leaner, faster, stronger, and better you!
Makes You Alert: If you don’t buy into any of the other benefits of taking a cold shower here is one more for you. This one is pretty undeniable. There probably aren’t many people around that wouldn’t be woken up and put on the edge of alertness the moment the cold water hits their skin. So beyond all other reasons for taking a cold shower, do it just to feel the honest goodness of being truly alive!

Related: Organic skincare and it’s numerous benefits on the skin

For the Greater Good:

So if you aren’t convinced to take an arctic shower for the improvement your own health, how about indulging in the idea to help out the rest of the world? For all those out there that are conservation and environmentally minded, you can take an icy shower in order to reduce your footprint. The power used to heat up water for a warm or hot shower won’t be needed if you are taking a cold power shower. Plus, you will have a reduction in overall water consumption due to taking the abridged version of your morning shower.

What are my Options?

While we are focusing on taking cold showers to improve health, understand that cold exposure can involve different options. For most of us cold showers are simply the most accessible cold exposure method to partake in.

However, in case you are interested, here are a couple other options you could look into:

Whole (almost) body cold water immersion: The idea of this is to completely immerse your body (sans the head) into very cold water. While ice has the greatest ability to take heat from the body (which is the idea behind cold exposure therapy) cold water is the very capable second runner-up. You could immerse your body in cold water by filling your bathtub or getting into a cold pool or lake. The longer you expose yourself the greater the benefits will be. As mentioned before, 1 hour of exposure at 57°F can increase norepinephrine production by 530%. The ability of cold water to allow us longer exposure times, which equal greater benefits, plus the low costs of this method, make this option rather feasible.

Related: Make taking a cold shower a daily morning routine

Whole body cryotherapy:

This method exposes the whole body, often including the head, to cold air (which isn’t as effective as water) to extract heat from the body. However, what’s amazing about cryotherapy is that it can expose you to temps clear down to ­289°F (­178°C), now that’s crazy cold!! Of course you won’t be staying in the cryotherapy chamber for more than a few minutes. And that can be a problem if you want to reap all the health benefits from cold exposure therapy. Many of the benefits discussed previously increase the longer your body is exposed to the cold. Another thing to think about is that cryotherapy treatments start to get expensive. In order to get that 300% boost in norepinephrine, you would have to go 3x’s per week for 12 weeks. So your cost benefit ratio needs to be evaluated here.

Related: Standing desk and improved heart health – What’s the connection?

cryotherapy man

The simple take home:

Cold exposure, with cold showers being the most accessible, makes a better you through improved health and environmental consciousness. What more could you ask for?

 

Read moreThe Benefits of Cold Showers for Your Health, Body and Mind!