Table of Contents
DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) is a neuroactive steroid that is produced by the adrenal glands, and which is a precursor (pro-hormone) for producing testosterone [1; 2; 3; 4].
DHEA mechanism and metabolism
DHEA metabolism provides around 50% of androgens in men and around 75% of estrogens in premenopausal women .
Through the action of the enzyme CYP17A1, Pregnenolone is converted to, firstly 17a-Hydroxypregnenolone and then to DHEA .
DHEA has been known to elicit multiple effects on brain function, antidepressant and anxiolytic effects .
DHEA injections into type I diabetes rats was shown to improve hypercalcemia .
DHEA was used to treat 22 individuals diagnosed with major depression . Nearly half the patients were shown to have 50% decrease (or greater) in depressive symptoms .
DHEA and erectile dysfunction (ED)
Lower DHEA levels are associated with a higher risk of erectile dysfunction in men . One study found that those with ED showed lower DHEA serum levels . Peer-reviewed shows that “[DHEAS] evaluation is not recommended until more definite evidence…in erectile [dys]function is agreed upon” . Other work has described DHEA and a strong inverse correlation to ED .
DHEA and body training
DHEA has been assessed for its potential benefits in muscle mass and strength .
DHEA replacement/supplementation and muscle mass and strength was investigated using a randomised double-blind placebo-controlled study. Results of DHEA treatment showed that 4 months DHEA therapy had impacts on weightlifting training on muscle strength .
DHEA levels increased post-exercise, with DHEA-S levels significantly increased only in females .
DHEA and weight loss
DHEA may provide improvements in insulin sensitivity which may affect weight  through its action on adipocytes. The effects of DHEA on a group of female rats fed a diet which included DHEA supplementation were studied. 
Results showed that DHEA-fed female rats has less liver steatosis – which is the infiltration of fat into liver cells – and had gained less weight, when compared to control rats .
DHEA for men and women
In elderly men, DHEA and DHEA-S levels decline over time , and these lower DHEA levels could influence testosterone levels. In women, DHEA has been shown to improve ovarian reserve .
Oral administration of DHEA was assessed in men aged 63 years old . This study included a 20-week, 50mg DHEA dose and results showed that the DHEA supplement treatment was able to activate immune function .
In sexual function in women, DHEA doses have ranged from 50mg to a larger dose of 450mg and 1600mg .
50mg DHEA daily oral dose administered to 110 and 115 men and women; 23 participants experienced adverse effects in which DHEA treatment was stopped . Other recommended oral DHEA dose is 25-50mg/day .
DHEA safety and symptoms
DHEA supplementation and common side effects which are presented with its use include, acne, skin side effects, hirsutism and effects on lipid metabolism . DHEA should not be taken to restore any cognitive or emotional imbalances .