DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) has been widely available in the dietary supplement market for decades. Technically classified as an endogenous steroid hormone, this compound works primarily through its function as a metabolic intermediate in the synthesis of anabolics/androgens in this human body. Simply put, your body can use DHEA as a precursor to make hormones many people are familiar with such as testosterone.
What it does
As a steroid precursor DHEA has the ability to be converted into powerful anabolics such as testosterone in the human body. Numerous studies exist which show that DHEA can increase free testosterone levels (while not altering total testosterone) in middle-aged men. In young and healthy military subjects, DHEA has been shown to enhance anabolic balance (keep testosterone stable while cortisol is lowered).
Unlike middle-aged to older men, DHEA supplementation does not appear to benefit young men in regards to free testosterone/total testosterone output (most likely due to younger men having high concentrations of DHEA still present in their body). Similarly, DHEA supplementation has also been unable to show a direct correlation to increases in lean body mass or strength in the average user.
How it works
DHEA’s purported benefits come from its ability to convert into androstenedione and then testosterone. While it is true that DHEA is capable of converting into these compounds, it does not appear that this conversion is at a high enough rate to cause increases in lean body mass or significantly enhanced testosterone levels (at least in healthy young volunteers).
As men age their circulating levels of DHEA decline which may mean middle-aged and older men could see some benefits from supplementing with DHEA, however, significant benefits have yet to be thoroughly discovered.
DHEA is dosed between 25mg and 100mg per day in 1-2 doses. For strength and muscle growth, doses of 100mg/day are suggested, while for general anti-aging benefits 25-50mg are acceptable.