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DHEA and Adrenal Imbalance- Costly Mistakes People Make When Taking Over The Counter DHEA

DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is a hormone produced by your body’s adrenal glands, and in smaller amounts in the testicles and ovaries. These glands can be located just above your kidneys. DHEA is an important hormone precursor from which many other hormones are made.  When DHEA levels get too low or too high they can affect hormones like testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen.  DHEA levels like most hormones decline with age and can cause a variety of health problems. Studies show that DHEA levels peak at about age 25, then go down steadily as you get older. By the time people are 70 to 80 years old, their DHEA levels are only 10% to 20% those in young adults.

DHEA also has an activated version called DHEA sulfate, also known as DHEA-S hormone. DHEA is involved in the synthesis of testosterone and estradiol in men and women. And even if DHEA is not as potent as testosterone, it has a vital role in males and females with low testosterone levels. For instance, in men DHEA maintains DHT levels in the prostate when testosterone production is deficient.

In women, DHEA contributes to up to 90% of circulating sex hormones after menopause. As such, DHEA levels are important for both men and women.

The DHEA normal range depends on the individual’s age. It is very high during fetal life; it falls after birth and goes back up around 6-8 years of age.

After that time, DHEA levels keep rising until they reach a standard value of 1 to 10 µmol in healthy adults. After that, and as we age, DHEA levels start to drop, and some older adults have DHEA deficiency (1).

Many people who find themselves struggling with daily fatigue, nightly Insomnia, chronic pain, weight gain, thyroid problems suffer with adrenal imbalances. including excess or Low DHEA. What many don’t realize is just how powerful and detrimental prolonged stress is on the adrenal glands. Chronic stress whether real or perceived, taxes the adrenal glands to the point where you now suffer with more advanced stages of adrenal fatigue leading to low DHEA reserves.

Symptoms of  Low DHEA

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Brain Fog
  • Weight gain
  • Decrease in muscle mass
  • Decrease in bone density
  • Depression
  • Aching joints
  • Loss of libido
  • Low Testosterone in men and woman
  • Lowered immunity

Think you might have a problem with DHEA or Adrenal gland hormones? Take our Adrenal Quiz here

Weight gain

As we get older, our DHEA levels decline and weight loss becomes more challenging. DHEA levels fall with age in men and women, reaching values sometimes as low as 10%-20% of those encountered in young individuals. This age-related decrease suggests an “adrenopause” phenomenon. Supplemental DHEA, when levels have dropped, can help with weight loss, energy levels, heart health, cognitive function, sleep and som much more.

Depression, Mood disorder, Anxiety, Brain Fog 

Are your friends, coworkers, or spouse feeling complaining to you about your irritability, Do you feel anxious or overwhelmed lately? If so this may be another indicator of  low DHEA. Hormonal imbalance is the number one cause of mood swings. Since your body uses DHEA to make both estrogen and testosterone, supplementation with DHEA has the ability to increase sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen) in your body.

Supplementation with DHEA has been shown to help prevent or mitigate mood disorders, especially major depression, and to significantly improve cognitive and memory functions in older adults.


In men with elevated cholesterol studies have shown that taking 25 mg of DHEA daily for 12 weeks produced an impressive 115% improvement in endothelial function. Endothelial function is a measure of arterial health and resistance to atherosclerosis. The same study showed significant 44% reduction in plasminogen activator inhibitor, which is a measure of blood-clotting potential. This important finding indicates an independent reduction in cardiovascular risk.

Decrease in Bone Density

Osteoporosis is a serious condition that leads to brittle bones. Evidence shows that DHEA supplementation in elderly women and men with a low level of DHEA can improve age-related changes in body composition due to aging. Overall it can improve bone health and athletic performance.

While there are so many befits to DHEA supplementation. We want to be smart in how and when we use it.  The Goal of DHEA supplementation should always be to use the smallest dose possible to correct the imbalance or deficiency. It is also imperative to understand the root cause of why DHEA levels may be low. For these reasons testing cortisol and DHEA levels with an adrenal saliva test is so important.

Since excessive DHEA in the body can also bring negative results, DHEA supplementation is not always necessary or the best course of action for certain individuals even though DHEA levels are low. There are certain conditions like PCOS where supplemental DHEA may not be a good idea even though DHEA leves are low.

Assess your Risk for problems related adrenal problems and DHEA here

Symptoms and Side Effects Of Excessive DHEA

The most common DHEA side effects includes acne breakouts on facial and back skin, male pattern baldness, hair loss, stomach ache, emotional behavioral changes and high blood pressure. Side effects of too much DHEA in woman include excess body and facial hair growth, menstrual irregularities, acne and hair loss at the top of the head.

One of the most common sex related benefits of DHEA supplement is the increasing production level of testosterone and estrogen in males and females. This could be a great thing if your levels of testosterone or estrogen are low, but it could also cause unwanted hormonal problems if not properly tested prior to treatment or periodically to manage and optimize levels. We never recommend taking hormones DHEA or otherwise without first testing base line levels.

According to recent research on the side effects of DHEA, it is suggested that DHEA is highly unsafe for any age group when it is consumed in high level doses and taken continuously for long period of time. It is always recommended to seek help from a Functional Medicine Practitioner, who uses 24 hour Adrenal Saliva Testing or bloodwork to assess baseline levels of DHEA. If DHEA levels are low and your functional medicine practitioner prescribes DHEA, DHEA levels should be retested within 90-120 days to ensure your dosage is correct and you are not being overdosed.  This is one of the most common mistakes I see in practice.

Combined with nutritional support, dietary changes and lifestyle modification, DHEA supplementation (when needed) can make a huge difference in hormonal health.

Here are my tips

  1. Take the Adrenal Quiz here
  2. If your result come back indicated a high probability for Adrenal Fatigue, the next step is to get tested. We offer a consultation with all Adrenal Testing testing
  3. If DHEA levels are low begin Supplementation with DHEA. We recommend that you do this under the supervision of your Functional Medicine Doctor.
  4. Try to get adequate sleep.  People with adrenal fatigue often have poor quality sleep, but your adrenal glands will greatly benefit if you can be in bed before 10:30pm.  The hours before midnight are much more restorative to your body. Magnesium is a great tool to promote a deeper and more restful sleep.
  5. If you have low levels of cortisol (typical with adrenal gland exhaustion, and can be measured in a blood test), you may benefit from taking Adrenal Natural glandular capsules. They contain natural glandular material derived from government-inspected, range-fed animals, raised in New Zealand and Australia. This provides your body with natural adrenal gland hormones that help to relieve the symptoms of exhaustion and low stamina. It is important to take this in the morning.
  6. Try to reduce the stress in your life or find more effective ways of dealing with it.  Massage, meditation, yoga, Chiropractic care, dancing classes, facials, counseling, reading or going for a bike ride can all be healthy ways to unwind.
  7. Many people with a thyroid condition are low in the nutrients required for the production of thyroid hormones. Being low in these nutrients can result in fatigue, low mood and impaired concentration. If you have Low thyroid hormone levels consider taking these nutrients found in Thryomedica plus to support your thyroid. This formula can assist in the conversion of T4 into T3.
  8. Make sure you eat enough protein and healthy fats.  These two nutrients will help to keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day, thereby reducing energy slumps caused by a blood sugar crash.
  9. You may benefit from a tyrosine supplement.  Tyrosine is an amino acid that your body uses to manufacture adrenalin and noradrenalin.  It helps you to emotionally cope with stress more effectively and even helps mood and concentration.
  10. Most of the vitamin C in your body is stored in your adrenal glands.  Most people do not consume enough fresh vegetables and fruit to get sufficient vitamin C in their diet.  Your adrenal glands will struggle to function unless you consume enough vitamin C. If you have adrenal exhaustion you will need at least 1000mg of vitamin C daily.

Our Chronic Fatigue and Adrenal Recovery Program Is A Customized, Natural Treatment For People Who Suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, High DHEA, or Low DHEA.

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We use advanced testing methods, nutritional supplements, Dietary modifications, Hormone and endocrine support formula, and lifestyle guidance.

To see if our Adrenal Recovery Program is right for you, schedule a Free 15 minute Phone Consult by filling out our online questionnaire.

Still have questions? Our Free 15 minute personalized Phone consult is a great place to start.

Because each person who suffers with symptoms of  Fatigue, Brain Fog, hormonal imbalances, weight gain has a different root cause, Our office will personalize an Adrenal Restoration Program. This program will be based on your testing and tailored to your individual needs.

Learn more about Testing options for adrenal hormone imbalances Here

Think you might have a problem with DHEA or Adrenal gland hormones? Take our Adrenal Quiz here

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