Before we get deeply involved in DHEA benefits, let’s do a quick refresher on exactly what we are talking about when we say DHEA for those who aren’t familiar with this acronym.
DHEA stands for dehydroepiandrosterone which is a hormone that is produced naturally within the body. The adrenal glands output this hormone, however it is worth noting that production slowly decreases over time, generally starting around the early thirties. DHEA is not available in any foods or naturally occurring substances; it can only be produced by the body or synthetically in the lab.
Why Take It?
Generally speaking the DHEA benefits for people are based around the concept of preventing illnesses and some health benefits. Certain diseases and conditions that area linked to aging might have low DHEA levels associated with them. This list includes: lupus, obesity, depression, diabetes, HIV, and even anorexia. Some theories point to adding DHEA back into the body as a way to combat aging, boost immunity, and increase muscle strength. Many people look for any way possible to boost strength and assume that adding in hormones produced from the adrenal gland should help.
While some of the theories may seem sound and look good on paper, how that translates to actual application within the human body is still unproven. The body doesn’t always react to substances that are foreign made in the same way it would be assumed that they should. Most of the studies that have been done don’t support any of these uses. That is not to say that they don’t work, but the results from studies have not been conclusive enough or consistent enough to merit published findings supporting using them across the board.
In this case it seems that DHEA benefits for bodybuilding falls under the category of ‘it could’ give you a boost in muscle strength, especially if you are over thirty. But how it actually interacts in your body is not guaranteed nor are any results, based on current studies.
The Good and the Bad
If you do want to try taking it for the possible strength gains or other DHEA benefits you should be aware of possible side effects. Since it is a hormone it could have mood altering properties as well as causing men to develop more breast tissue and higher blood pressure. Women could have masculine attributes begin to appear like facial hair or a deepening voice. Headaches, fatigue, and insomnia can also occur.
From a safety standpoint, high doses can be very dangerous to the body. In studies doses of 25 to 200 milligrams have been given in a day. But there is no standard dosage.
Reviewing the information available it appears the concerns and lack of evidence about this substance greatly outweighs any DHEA benefits you might have heard about. So far it appears that this hormone is one better left on the shelf if your goal is having a healthy body.