The human body’s production of DHEA peaks at age 25, after which levels start to decline. By age 70, DHEA levels are likely to be 75 to 80% lower. In the past few years alone, significant scientific substantiation of DHEA’s anti-aging effects has emerged. Its neuroprotective effects are now recognized as being vital in protecting memory and reducing depressive symptoms in older adults.
What is DHEA?
DHEA is a hormone naturally produced by the body in the adrenal gland. It helps produce other hormones including testosterone and estrogen. Natural DHEA levels peak in early adulthood and then slowly fall as you age.
How DHEA Impacts Weight Management
New research has also shown that DHEA may play an important role in weight management. In fact, Harvard Health Publishing states that a study shows that the hormone could control the effects of obesity.
One of the ways in which DHEA plays a role in weight management is its ability to block an enzyme essential for the creation of fat known as G6PD (glucose-6-phosphate-dehydrogenase). Blocking this enzyme slows the creation of new fat, forcing the body to use existing fat as fuel. Another possible mechanism to explain the effects of DHEA is repressing activation of enzymes involved in fat synthesis. That means more fat is burned, and less fat is created and stored.
A study was published which observed 56 men and women randomly assigned to receive 50 mg per day of DHEA or a placebo over 6 months. At the end of the trial, the DHEA group lost a significant amount of both visceral and subcutaneous fat while the placebo group averaged a net gain of both subcutaneous and visceral fat. Evaluations also concluded that the DHEA group achieved a significant increase in insulin sensitivity.
A separate study involving obese postmenopausal women who received DHEA or a placebo for a period of 3 months found that DHEA led to improved waist circumference and obesity parameters including improved blood pressure, decrease in blood glucose, and a reduction in the total metabolic syndrome score.
DHEA has a pretty solid track record in animal experiements for reducing fat accumulation in both genetic and diet-induced obesity.
Effects of DHEA
Studies have shown DHEA may lead to:
- decreases in belly (visceral) fat
- decreases in subcutaneous fat
- increses in insulin sensitivity
- decreases in LDL (bad cholesterol)
- increases in HDL (good cholesterol)
- decrease in plasma triglycerides
- decrease in blood glucose levels
- reduced waist circumference
So what should we make of the studies done with DHEA related to weight loss and weight management? DHEA is neither a weight-loss pill nor a hormonal fountain of youth but it can contribute to weight management and may emerge as a way to help control some of the effects of middle-age weight gain.