Dhea is the most abundant steroid hormone in humans. It is thought to be responsible for a large range of bodily functions including the production of testosterone.


  • Used to build muscle and boost energy [7][8]
  • Improves libido, may be effective for the treatment of erectile dysfunction [7]
  • Used for weight loss [7][8]
  • Provides a Boost to the immune system [7]
 What Is DHEA?

DHEA is the most common steroid in humans. [1] It is produced by the adrenal glands and gonads in the brain.[2] Though very abundant in young people, DHEA levels decline steadily with aging. This supplement has been implicated in various biological effects in not only humans, but also other mammals.It is considered a neurosteroid, meaning it can rabidly alter neuronal excitability through interaction with neurotransmitter-gates ion channels. [3]

Currently, DHEA is available in the United States as a dietary supplement, despite efforts made towards controlling it. A bill was introduced in March 2007, which attempted to reclassify DHEA as a controlled substance. This bill made it as far as the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it died.[4] In Canada however, a prescription is required. Many sports organizations test for DHEA and it is considered a prohibited substance with respects to the World Anti-Doping Agency. [6]

DHEA Dosage Information

Because DHEA levels in your system depend greatly upon your age, doses may vary. Usually people take between 5mg – 25mg. It is important not to take DHEA every day. Your body could get used to the supplement and fail to produce it without the supplement. You should use DHEA supplements no more then 5 days a week. It is also recommended that you discontinue use for a week once every two months.

How Does DHEA Work?

DHEA acts on the androgen receptor. First DHEA is broken down into its metabolites, androstenediol and androstenedione. Those metabolites are then converted into testosterone and estrogens which can directly interact with the androgen receptor. [3] The main function of the androgen receptor is to regulate gene expression.[5]

Safety and Side Effects of DHEA

DHEA is described as being “possibly safe” when used for a limited amount of time. It is recommended that you take DHEA for no longer than a couple months.[7] Possible side effects include things you would expect from a steroid. Acne, facial hair growth, a deeper voice, upset stomach, hair loss, high blood pressure, and for women changes in the menstrual cycle are possible.

There are also special precautions that must be taken into consideration. Do not take DHEA if you:

  • Are pregnant of breastfeeding
  • Have any hormone sensitive condition
  • Suffer from liver problems
  • Have diabetes
  • Have cholesterol problems

DHEA may also interfere with certain antipsychotic drugs such as Thorazine and Prolixin.


Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about DHEA. If you have a question that’s not on this list, send it to us at [email protected] and we will answer it for you.

Should I Take DHEA?

Because natural levels of DHEA decline with age, the usefulness of this supplement increases as you age. I would not recommend taking DHEA in your 20′s since this is usually when levels are high. If you do decide to take DHEA at a young age, consider a much lower dose (5mg per day). This supplement can also be dangerous if taken improperly. It may be beneficial to consult your physician, and measure your DHEA levels before taking DHEA.That being said, DHEA can certainly provide many benefits. For those who have low DHEA levels due to age or other conditions, It can be very helpful for weight loss, muscle gain, and restoring sexual drive.

What Are Some Notable DHEA Studies?

One study examined the effects of daily DHEA treatment on men and women aged 50-65. This study examined a daily dose of 100mg after a previous study showed results from only a 50mg daily dose. All subjects were given either a placebo or a dose of DHEA for 6 months.Results showed that levels of DHEA in the male subjects returned that of young men. The results were not as conclusive for women. Having normal levels of DHEA increase muscle gain and decreased levels of body fat. ,sup>[8]

Cited Studies

1. William F Ganong MD, ‘Review of Medical Physiology’, 22nd Ed, McGraw Hill, 2005, page 362.

2. Schulman, Robert A., M.D.; Dean, Carolyn, M.D. (2007). Solve It With Supplements. New York City: Rodale, Inc.. p. 100. ISBN 978-1-57954-942-8. “DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) is a common hormone produced in the adrenal glands, the gonads, and the brain.”

3. Mo Q, Lu SF, Simon NG (April 2006). “Dehydroepiandrosterone and its metabolites: differential effects on androgen receptor trafficking and transcriptional activity”. J. Steroid Biochem. Mol. Biol. 99 (1): 50–8. doi:10.1016/j.jsbmb.2005.11.011. PMID 16524719. http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0960-0760(06)00039-2.

4. S. 762 A bill to include dehydroepiandrosterone as an anabolic steroid

5. Mooradian AD, Morley JE, Korenman SG (1987). “Biological actions of androgens”. Endocr. Rev. 8 (1): 1–28. doi:10.1210/edrv-8-1-1. PMID 3549275.

6. World Anti-Doping Agency

7. Web MD DHEA 

8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9876338