Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a natural steroid hormone produced from cholesterol by the adrenal glands found atop of the kidneys in the human body. DHEA is structurally similar to, and is a precursor of testosterone and estrogen.
In blood, DHEA is found as its derivative dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, DHEA-S .
DHEA production peaks in early adulthood, around the age of 20, and declines afterwards. It is theorized by some that this decline may be due to reduced oxygen and glucose supply to the adrenal glands as a result of age-related atherosclerosis. It is the most abundant steroid hormone in the human body.
Disputed effects of DHEA
The significance of the hormone in health and disease is not fully established. It is postulated that DHEA supplements are beneficial in the prevention of:
- cardiovascular disease
- multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson's disease
- Alzheimer's disease
- disorders of the immune system
It is also commercially advertised that DHEA:
- helps decrease insulin resistance
- improves fat metabolism
- increases immune system function
- has anti-aging properties
- increases lean muscle mass
Some assert that DHEA should not be supplemented outside specialist centres under careful observation of experts in the field of endocrinology.
Side effects may include:
- ireversible male breast enlargement, gynecomastia
- prostate gland enlargement
- extensive growth of body hair, or hirsutism
Other useful information
Regular exercise is known to increase the amount of DHEA in the body. (Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol 1998 Oct;78(5):466-71), (Eur J Appl Physiol. 2001 Jul;85(1- 2):177-84), (J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2002 Apr;57(4):B158-65). Caloric restriction has also been shown to increase DHEA in primates (Exp Gerontol. 2003 Jan-Feb; 38(1-2):35-46).
Nutrition through the Life Cycle, Judith E. Brown, ISBN 0-534-58986-3
The DHEA Debate: A critical review of experimental data (Published 2004)
DHEA: Ignore the Hype (Published 1996)
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details