In 1981, the Life Extension Foundation® introduced DHEA
(dehydroepiandrosterone) to its members through an article that described the
multiple benefits this hormone might produce. However, the general public did
not learn about DHEA until 1996, when its benefits were touted by the news media
and in several popular books. DHEA became credible to the medical establishment
when the New York Academy of Sciences published a book called DHEA and Aging.
That book provided scientific validation for the many life-extending effects of
It has been shown that the serum hormone DHEA often declines by 75–80% from
peak levels by age 70 or later, leading to hormonal imbalances that can affect
one’s quality of life.1-3 Peak blood
levels of DHEA occur at approximately age 25, decreasing progressively
thereafter.3 The marked decline in
serum DHEA with age is believed to play a role in health problems associated
with aging. Thus, scientists have been looking at ways of restoring DHEA to
youthful levels to prevent or reverse those health issues, and are now
discovering mechanisms by which DHEA protects against age-related decline.
Since 1981, several hundred studies have been published on DHEA’s various
benefits, including immunomodulatory properties as well as positive effects on
mood, quality of life, and body composition. It has been proposed that restoring
the circulating levels of DHEA to those found in young people may improve
well-being and sexual function. In a recent randomized, double-blind,
placebo-controlled study, ten months of DHEA replacement therapy has the
beneficial effect of enhancing the increases in muscle mass and strength with
the addition of resistance exercise in elderly individuals.4
The studies of DHEA therapy in women with adrenal insufficiency also suggest
beneficial effects on well-being, mood, and sexuality.5
DHEA could be of benefit to the normal aging brain.6-8
Some studies have reported DHEA may improve mood and alleviate melancholy.9
In addition, recent studies in vitro have shown that DHEA has the capacity to
improve endothelial function by increasing nitric oxide (NO) synthesis.10
In recent randomized, double-blinded, controlled trials, DHEA replacement
therapy for one year helped protect hip bone mineral density in older adults and
spine bone mineral density in older women.11
DHEA has also been shown to support a healthy circulatory system and joint/bone
DHEA usage and safety precautions
Life Extension® has been investigating DHEA for almost 30 years. Life
Extension’s DHEA directions for use are specially drafted to provide optimal,
but safe dosing.
The standard blood test to evaluate DHEA status is one that measures DHEA
sulfate levels (DHEA-S). The DHEA-S is calculated in micrograms per deciliter
(?/dL) of blood. A DHEA-S (dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate) blood test may be
taken three to six weeks after initiating a DHEA supplementation regimen to help
determine optimal dosing. When having your blood tested for DHEA, blood should
be drawn three to four hours after the last dose. DHEA testing may save you
money if it shows you can take less DHEA to maintain youthful DHEA serum levels.
Because of the overwhelming evidence connecting low levels of DHEA to
problems associated with aging, Life Extension suggests that all people over age
40 begin DHEA therapy. For most people, the starting dose of DHEA is between
15–75 mg, taken in one daily dose. Many studies have used a daily dose of 50 mg.
Ideally, DHEA replacement therapy should begin with blood testing to
establish a base range. Since almost everyone over age 35–40 has lower than
optimal levels of DHEA, most people begin supplementation and test their blood
DHEA levels later to make sure they are taking the proper dose. Normal serum
reference ranges and ideal ranges of DHEA-S are:
People over age 40 who do not supplement with DHEA usually have serum levels
below 200, and many are below 100 as a steady decline takes place after the
third decade in life.1,12,14 There
are different precautions for men and women that should be observed.
DHEA precautions for men
Before attempting to restore DHEA to youthful levels, men should know their
serum PSA (prostate specific antigen) level. Men with prostate cancer or severe
benign prostate disease are advised to avoid DHEA since it can be converted into
testosterone (and estrogen). Therefore, men are advised to have a PSA and
digital rectal exam before initiating DHEA to rule out existing prostate
When taking DHEA we also recommend taking the following other nutrients:
- Vitamin E (d-tocopheryl succinate) 400 IU daily
- Selenium 200 mcg daily
- Super Absorbable Soy Isoflavones 55 mg daily
- Gamma E Tocopherol with Sesame Lignans 200 mg daily
- Lycopene Extract 20–40 mg daily
- Saw Palmetto Extract 160 mg twice daily
- Pygeum Extract 50 mg twice daily
- Nettle Extract 120 mg twice daily
- Boron 3–10 mg daily
It is important for men over 40 to have a physician check their PSA and
DHEA-S serum levels every six to twelve months thereafter. Men should also
periodically check their blood levels for free testosterone and estrogen to make
sure that DHEA is following a youthful metabolic pathway.
Male Hormone Modulation chapter in the Disease Prevention & Treatment book
for additional hormone balance testing that can be done at the same time serum
DHEA and PSA levels are being tested.
DHEA precautions for women
Women should consider estrogen and testosterone testing when they take their
DHEA blood test in order to evaluate DHEA’s effect on their blood levels of
Women who have been diagnosed with an estrogen-dependent cancer should
consult their physicians before beginning the DHEA restoration process.
When taking DHEA we also recommend taking the following other nutrients to
maintain a healthy balance:
- Melatonin 300 mcg to 3 mg nightly
- Vitamin E 400–800 IU daily (d-tocopheryl succinate)
- Broccoli extract 400 mg daily (as found in Dual-Action Cruciferous
- Indole-3-carbinol 80 mg daily (as found in Dual-Action Cruciferous
- Vitamin D3 1000–2000 IU daily
- Gamma Tocopherol with Sesame Lignans 200 mg daily
- Soy Isoflavones 55 mg daily
Women taking DHEA should refer to the
Female Hormone Modulation chapter in the Disease Prevention and Treatment
book for information about restoring youthful hormone balance.
The Life Extension Foundation Buyers® Club offers DHEA supplements that
conform to the following specifications:
References Supplement Facts
- Micronized (for maximum absorption and utilization)
- Manufactured under GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) conditions
Dosage and Use
Serving Size 1 tablet
Servings Per Container 100
Amount Per Serving
Other ingredients: sorbitol, microcrystalline cellulose,
croscarmellose sodium, magnesium stearate.
Contains corn. This product contains NO milk, egg, fish, peanuts,
crustacean shellfish (lobster, crab, shrimp), soybeans, tree nuts,
wheat, yeast, gluten, or rice. Contains NO artificial sweeteners,
flavors, colors, or preservatives.
The exact number of tablets to be taken should be determined by blood
testing and the advice of a physician.
Generally, place one to four tablets under the tongue in the morning,
allow dissolving, and then swallowing.
Do not take in the evening, as it could interfere with sleep.
Take one capsule upon waking and one capsule before midday meal,
preferably on an empty stomach, or as recommended by a healthcare
Do not use DHEA if you are at risk for or have been diagnosed with any type
of hormonal cancer, such as prostate or breast cancer.