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Dhea -- Mother Of All Hormones

Do we have symptoms of aging because this hormone goes down as we grow older? Or is the decline in DHEA simply one more symptom of aging? Nobody has a definitive answer, but it's true that people who take DHEA supplements often show a remarkable decline in other symptoms of aging, making them seem much younger than their years.

We produce DHEA in our adrenal glands starting while we're still a fetus in the womb. We continue to increase levels of DHEA until around age 25, when it drops off sharply and continues to fall as we grow older.

Symptoms of DHEA deficiency include: chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, hypersensitivity to noise, libido decline, dry hair, skin and eyes; and loss of hair on the head, armpit hair and pubic hair.

One of DHEA's primary functions is bolstering our immune systems to fight against infection from bacteria and viruses. As we grow older, the adrenal gland atrophies. This sometimes prevents the immune system from recognizing and fighting back against infections. This almost means that older people do respond as well to vaccines, which work by teaching the immune system how to defeat infections.

However, studies with mice found that DHEA promoted the production of T cells and enabled them to respond to vaccines as though young again.

DHEA also displays heart-protection properties. One twenty year study showed that men who die of heart attacks have lower than average DHEA levels. Rabbits given DHEA had reduced artherosclerosis. Studies have shown that oral DHEA can reduce cholesterol levels, especially LDL (the bad cholesterol).

Another one of DHEA's important jobs is maintaining the function of our brain cells. That's why our brain tissue contains five or six more times as much DHEA as the rest of our bodies. People with Alzheimer's Disease have abnormally low levels of DHEA.

DHEA decline is also associated with obesity, because it enhances fat-burning and cellular energy production. In a 1964 study of thirty-two elderly obese people with diabetes, no DHEA at all could be found in their urine samples. Some researchers believe that DHEA helps prevent obesity by blocking the enzyme glucose-6-phosphate-dehydrogenase (G6PD). This may help block the body from storing fat.

People given DHEA supplements in studies have demonstrated increased muscle mass and reduced fat.

DHEA supplementation is approved by the FDA by prescription only. It may be appropriate for elderly people who seem their age and for younger people who seem old.

By: Richard Stooker

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