Atlanta Integrative and Internal Medicine
Forrest A. Smith, M.D. 45 W. Crossvi-
lle Rd, Suite 501 Roswell, GA 30075
770-594-1233
lthompson@aiimed.com    www.atlantaintegrativeandinternalme...



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Can DHEA Help Restore Your Youth?
(And If Not, What Can?)

© 2013 Health Realizations, Inc.


DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) is a hormone made in your body that helps to produce hormones, including the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen. Sometime during your 20s, your levels of DHEA peak and as we age, DHEA levels gradually begin to decline. By the time you reach 70, your DHEA levels will likely be just 10-20 percent of their peak amount.

DHEA may improve well-being, quality of life

Several studies suggest that DHEA may improve well-being, quality of life, exercise capacity, sex drive, and hormone levels in people with decreased adrenal function.

And so the premise was built that taking a DHEA supplement could potentially restore your youthful vigor, and give you the energy, stamina and sex drive that you had in your 20s. And that's not all.

DHEA has been marketed as the "cure-all" miracle supplement that can:

  • Slow aging and increase your lifespan

  • Boost your immunity

  • Lighten your mood

  • Decrease body fat and increase muscle strength

  • Improve your memory

  • Lower your risk of cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer's

  • Stabilize your blood sugar, and lower your risk of diabetes

  • Benefit multiple sclerosis, lupus and HIV

Is DHEA the "Fountain of Youth"?

There are some studies that show DHEA has promise. For instance, according to the Mayo Clinic:

  • Several studies suggest that DHEA may improve well-being, quality of life, exercise capacity, sex drive, and hormone levels in people with insufficient adrenal function (Addison's disease).

  • The majority of clinical trials investigating the effect of DHEA on depression support its use for this purpose under the guidance of specialist.

  • The majority of clinical trials investigating the effect of DHEA on weight or fat loss support its use for this purpose.

However, in all of these instances, the results are preliminary and more research is needed to confirm the results. In the meantime, at least one recent study has found that DHEA is not all it's cracked up to be.

In the two-year study led by Dr. K. Sreekumaran Nair, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, close to 150 people were given DHEA supplements or a placebo once a day for two years.

Although the participants taking the DHEA did have increases in their hormone levels, they did not have improvements in body composition, muscle strength, blood-sugar control or quality of life.

DHEA is a hormone

Because DHEA is a hormone, it could potentially increase the risk of hormone-related cancers like prostate, breast and ovarian.

"It's very disappointing," Dr. Nair said in a Chicago Tribune article. "I wouldn't spend any money on DHEA."

Are There Any Risks?

Despite the mostly unproven health claims, DHEA is widely available in health food stores and on the Internet, and sales are still going strong.

Please be aware that the yam-based DHEA supplements that are often advertised are not likely to be effective at all, because wild yam cannot be converted into DHEA by your body.

If you are considering a real DHEA supplement, you should know that there are risks involved. According to the Mayo Clinic, "Because DHEA is a hormone related to other male and female hormones, there may be side effects related to its hormonal activities. For example, masculinization may occur in women, including acne, greasy skin, facial hair, hair loss, increased sweating, weight gain around the waist, or a deeper voice. Likewise, men may develop more prominent breasts or breast tenderness. Men may also experience increased blood pressure, testicular wasting, or increased aggressiveness."

Because DHEA is a hormone, it could also potentially increase your risk of prostate, breast, or ovarian cancers, and there's also evidence from animal tests that it could increase your risk of developing blood clots or liver damage.

What Can You do to Avoid Premature Aging?

As it stands, a pill is not likely to keep you from aging with the rest of the world, but there are methods you can use now to live as long and healthy a life as possible:

  1. Eat a Healthy Diet, With Lots of Whole Foods. Uncooked vegetables can be rich in vitamins, minerals and enzymes. Fruits, nuts and other whole foods are important to include in your diet and supplements.

  2. Exercise Regularly. Exercise at a level that's comfortable for you, and do it regularly, rather than overdoing it by exercising too often or too strenuously. An excellent adjunct to every exercise routine is regular stretching. Proper stretching is one of the most widely recommended methods to help you look and feel younger, live longer, avoid and even overcome serious health issues, and increase your mental concentration and emotional well-being.

  3. Relax and Find Ways to Relieve Stress. Trying to fit too many tasks into a day, or filling your time with too many stressful activities, will wear you down, no matter how many fruits and vegetables you eat. Organize your life so you have time to appreciate little enjoyments, spend time with family and friends who make you feel good, and take time for yourself when you need it.


Sources

ChicagoTribune.com

MayoClinic.com DHEA


Dr. Smith's Comments

In my practice I "prescribe" a lot of DHEA.  However, I do not recommend it without testing levels first.  Problems are usually only encountered when doses are too high. 

Be advised of the warnings, as reported above, but taking DHEA can be very beneficial under the right circumstances.  It is known that DHEA levels fall as we age and that persons who retain higher levels have better quality of health in many ways.  Low levels are sometimes associated with adrenal insufficiency or fatigue.  Supplementation can help them recover more quickly.

It is easy to have levels checked.  Blood testing is accurate and inexpensive. Saliva testing can afford more information because it couples cortisol measurements at four points during the day, thus providing a fuller evaluation of the adrenal function.

Please Note: Above comment statements are not written by Health Realizations nor the opinion of healthrealizations.com

Address : Forrest A. Smith, M.D.
45 W. Crossville Rd, Suite 501
Roswell, GA 30075
Phone : 770-594-1233
Fax : 770-594-0037
Email Address(s) : lthompson@aiimed.com
Website : www.atlantaintegrativeandinternalmedicine.com
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