Natural DHEA, or what is also known as dehydroepiandrosterone, is a steroid hormone produced naturally by the body during the third decade of life and usually slowly decreases with age. The production of this steroid hormone promotes testosterone and estrogen production in men and women, and has been promoted as a natural anti-aging hormone by some researchers and supplement manufacturers. The adrenal glands produce natural DHEA, yet some seek this hormone through supplementation when their levels are low. Some of the reported benefits of natural DHEA and synthetic DHEA include improved mood, weight loss and muscle building.
During the third decade of life, natural DHEA hormone levels are at their peak and are aiding in the production and conversion of testosterone in males and estrogen in women. These are the two sex hormones important in reproduction and the production of secondary sexual characteristics. As the levels of DHEA slowly wane and decrease in increasing years, this hormone has been sought after as an anti-aging hormone that may fight the signs and onset of aging. The connection between aging and natural DHEA goes even further due to low levels of natural DHEA corresponding with those affected with diabetes, cancer and compromised immune systems.
Often DHEA is purchased in a supplemental form, produced from diosgenin in a laboratory, a substance found naturally in soybeans and wild yams. Consuming these items cannot convert this substance in naturally occurring DHEA, making a supplement necessary for proper production of this hormone. Although supplements should only be seen as a natural approach to an all around healthy lifestyle, and not a magic pill solution, many people with declining DHEA levels prefer the supplemental method for increasing their levels of this hormone. More natural approaches to increasing DHEA are regular exercise, both moderate and intense, as well as safe and maintained calorie restriction, although more studies are needed to confirm this.
Many studies have shown that natural DHEA can increase a body's capabilities of losing weight and gaining muscle, reducing the risk of mortality from many diseases associated with obesity and undesired weight. One study looked at the effects DHEA had on depression, and showed that a small improvement was made in people with depressive symptoms compared to placebo. DHEA supplementation has also been shown to increase bone density, therefore showing promise in preventing and even fighting osteoporosis. Libido has also been shown to be improved in the older population, likely due to the fact that natural DHEA helps promote the sex hormones in humans.