As evidence mounts regarding its vital role in maintaining robust health, more and more people are seeking out dehydroepiandrosterone, or DHEA for short. Some do so to try and bolster their weight loss efforts. Others to stave off the effects of aging. And still others use DHEA supplements to help build stronger muscles or to treat various types of sexual dysfunction (1).
Because of its growing popularity it seems new DHEA supplements enter the market nearly every day now. So keeping tabs on which ones are legit and which are basically sugar pills can be a daunting task. But fear not. We’ve done the footwork for you.
Below are the best DHEA supplements on the market today.
1. aSquared Nutrition DHEA 100 Mg
aSquared Nutrition DHEA is a potent supplement with each GMO-free capsule providing 100 mg of high quality DHEA. At these dosage levels 1 capsule per day should be more than sufficient even for athletes and bodybuilders. aSquared DHEA capsules are produced in the US in FDA compliant facilities and can be used with equal effectiveness by both men and women.
They are not only one of the most potent DHEA supplements on the market, they’re also one of the most affordable. Making them one of the best DHEA values you’ll find anywhere. aSquared Nutrition DHEA will help you build lean muscle mass, promote enhanced immune system function, increase your libido and help restore hormonal balance throughout your body.
2. Sundown Naturals DHEA 50 mg
At 50 mg per capsule Sundown Naturals DHEA represents a nice mid-way point between potent 100 mg capsules and 10 mg “starter” doses. While precise dosing levels will vary from person to person depending in large part why they’re taking DHEA (2) 50 mg is generally considered a safe amount and one the will produce a range of benefits.
Each Sundown Naturals DHEA capsule is vegetarian safe, free of genetically modified organisms, free of gluten and produced in a Good Manufacturing Practices facility. In addition, there are no artificial flavors, colors or fillers added and no sugar, starch, soy or salt. Sundown Naturals has been around for more than 40 years and has a solid reputation for producing high quality, competitively priced supplements.
3. Naturebell Pure DHEA 100mg
Naturebell Pure DHEA capsules provide a potent dose of 100 mg of pure DHEA for the treatment of cognitive issues, sexual dysfunction, mood disorders and low energy. They’re also great for athletes and bodybuilders and will help to not only build larger, leaner muscles but improve stamina and endurance. Naturebell supplements contain no sugar, soy or dairy products.
They are gluten and GMO free and are produced in California in an FDA compliant GMP facility. Naturebell Pure DHEA is also micronized. This enhances the bioavailability of the product and ensures you’ll enjoy optimal benefits from its use. Each bottle of 200 capsules is affordably priced and should last the average person for up to 6 months. Just be sure to store them in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.
4. Havasu DHEA Extra Strength
Havasu tends to go a bit overboard with their marketing. But if you can ignore the hype and focus on what they actually provide you’ll find high quality 50 mg capsules of DHEA that should help with the treatment of myriad disorders. Each capsule is completely free of artificial additives, preservatives, color or flavors.
Each is also free of dairy products, sugar and genetically modified organisms. And each is subjected to rigorous 3rd party testing at the company’s Good Manufacturing Practices, FDA-certified facility in the US. Just to sweeten the pot Havasu offers a 60 day money back guarantee if you are not completely satisfied with the effectiveness of their DHEA. Which essentially means you have nothing to lose.
5. Natrol DHEA 50mg
One of the many benefits of DHEA is its ability to help prevent bone loss, especially in older women (3). To bolster its effectiveness in this regard Natrol adds 60 mg of calcium to their 50 mg DHEA capsules. Natrol supplements are always vegetarian friendly and these capsules are no exception.
They’re also free of milk, soy, wheat, gluten, yeast and sugar and contain no GMOs and no artificial colors, preservatives or fillers. Bone loss in post-menopausal women is a significant issue. And with research indicating DHEA can help prevent or at least reduce bone loss Natrol DHEA with calcium would seem to be a smart choice for older women.
6. Jarrow Formulas DHEA 25
Jarrow Formulas DHEA capsules contain 25 mg of high quality dehydroepiandrosterone. This is a modest dose of this important hormone regulator and will likely be a good choice for those in early middle age simply trying to fend off some of the common effects of aging.
Those effects may include reduced cognitive function, reduced stamina, insulin resistance, reduced libido and more. Jarrow supplements are vegetarian-friendly and produced without any gluten, nuts, dairy products wheat or sugar. The company has been in business since 1977 and maintains an FDA certified manufacturing facility where they produce their entire line of supplements.
7. Biomatrix Liquid Micronized DHEA
Biomatrix Liquid Micronized DHEA is a bit of an outlier on our list of best DHEA supplements. It’s the only one that comes in liquid form and is dispensed (preferably two drops at a time) via an eyedropper. While this type of delivery method allows the company to cut back on production costs it’s not without its downside, since portion control can be inexact.
Also, raw DHEA administered in this fashion can sometimes produce a burning sensation in the throat both during and after swallowing it. Although that should dissipate fairly rapidly. Biomatrix DHEA is micronized to enhance bioavailability and is free of all artificial ingredients, flavors or preservatives. In addition, the company offers a 30 day money back guarantee.
8. Double Wood DHEA 100mg
Double Wood DHEA is another 100 mg capsule that’s super potent and perfect for bodybuilders or others interested in producing lean muscle mass. There’s nothing subtle about 100 mg doses of DHEA. They’re intended to get results. So whether you’re looking to ramp up your muscle building efforts or searching for an alternative form of ED treatment Double Wood 100 mg DHEA capsules may be just the thing for you.
Double Wood DHEA is produced in the US in a GMP certified facility under FDA supervision and rigorously tested for purity and efficacy. All Double Wood supplements are also gluten-free, soy and dairy free and free of genetically modified organisms.
9. Country Life DHEA 10 mg
Those seeking a slow, safe entry point for DHEA supplementation should consider Country Life DHEA. These high quality capsules provide a very modest 10 mg of DHEA each. An amount that can be gradually increased over time until you find a level that works for you. Country Life has been around for nearly 50 years and has a well-established reputation for producing high quality supplements in their GMP facility.
So there is little to worry about from a safety perspective. They cost a bit more per 100 mg than most other DHEA supplements. But they represent a safe and reasonable starting point.
10. Pure Encapsulations DHEA
Pure Encapsulations DHEA is another 10 mg capsule that should be attractive to those investigating whether DHEA has anything to offer them. As with all Pure Encapsulation supplements their DHEA is vegan and vegetarian safe. It’s also gluten-free, free of peanuts, eggs and wheat and free of all genetically modified organisms.
You won’t find any artificial colors or sweeteners here either. Pure Encapsulations DHEA is micronized for more effective absorption. Which means you’ll get the most from each very modest 10 mg dose. As is the case with Country Life this is a DHEA supplement for those wanting to ease their way into DHEA supplementation and likely won’t have much appeal to bodybuilders or athletes in general.
What is DHEA?
DHEA sounds like something you might add to motor oil to make your car perform better, but it’s actually a hormone (full name, dehydroepiandrosterone). DHEA is produced by the adrenal gland and is one of the most abundant hormones in the body. It’s primary function is to stimulate the production of other hormones such as testosterone, estrogen and progesterone. Production of DHEA peaks during a person’s 20s and typically declines as they get older.
Bodybuilders cherish DHEA supplements because of their ability to act as a kind of natural anabolic steroid. The fact that DHEA can stimulate testosterone production, for example, allows bodybuilders to build big muscles faster than if they didn’t take it. Because of this ability to mimic the muscle building effects of steroids DHEA has been banned by many athletic associations. Even though scientific studies confirm that DHEA is actually safe and does not create the kind of freakish physiological changes that often occur from steroid abuse (4).
Quite the contrary. DHEA supplementation is considered safe and is known to have beneficial effects. Including helping people retain strength and vitality as they age (5).
What Are The Benefits of DHEA?
A fair amount of clinical research has been done on DHEA and its effects and the results are generally positive regarding its ability to produce multiple benefits. In fact, the science has been compelling enough to cause the governing bodies in some sports to ban the use of DHEA. Not because it presents a danger to athletes, but because it will likely give users a physical advantage over their competitors. Here are just some of the known and suspected benefits of DHEA supplementation.
- It may improve cardiovascular health – While an ironclad link between DHEA supplementation and heart health has not yet been established, there is enough evidence to suggest the notion does warrant more study by the medical community (6). In fact, existing data suggests that low DHEA levels in men can put them at risk of experiencing a dangerous, even fatal, cardiovascular event.
- It lowers the risk of developing Type II diabetes – Enhanced DHEA levels are believed to play a role in helping the body stave off insulin resistance in adults. Insulin resistance is something that typically increases over time and is usually the result of a chronically poor diet. When insulin resistance hits critical mass the person lapses into Type II diabetes. In laboratory experiments DHEA has been shown to reduce visceral fat and fend off insulin resistance resulting from poor dietary choices (7). This not only contributes to a lowering of the risk factors for diabetes but may also help fend off the development of various forms of heart disease.
- It may help alleviate depression – There is some evidence to suggest that DHEA supplementation may play a role in helping to alleviate symptoms of depression (8). Depression can create a number of cascading effects including a lack of energy and enthusiasm, irritability, anxiety and a kind of emotional numbness. DHEA supplementation may help to alleviate these symptoms which in turn can help lift the cloud of depression.
- It may help stave off cognitive decline – One of the most exciting potential benefits of DHEA supplementation is that it seems to help slow or even reverse the decline in cognitive ability that befalls so many people as they age (9). While this by itself does not constitute a “cure” for Alzheimer’s or dementia it does open the door to a possible avenue for further research. And the fact that clinical proof exists that links DHEA with improved cognitive function is good news in and of itself for millions who experience minor cognitive issues as they age.
- It can improve sexual function – There is copious evidence to suggest that DHEA supplements can help a person overcome various types of sexual dysfunction. People with reduced libido, vaginal dryness, ED and various hormonal imbalances have all responded positively to DHEA therapy (10). While not a guaranteed cure for these various maladies the clinical data suggests that DHEA can be helpful in alleviating them to varying degrees in different people. This benefit is likely due to DHEA’s role in stimulating sexual hormones including estrogen and testosterone.
- Builds muscle mass – Bodybuilders and athletes have known for some time that DHEA can help build bigger, stronger muscles without producing the gruesome side effects of steroids. In fact, it is so effective in doing so that its use has been banned in many sports. The muscle building effects of DHEA can be traced to its ability to stimulate testosterone production. DHEA has also been shown to play a role in weight loss (11). Although if one wishes to maximize the weight loss abilities of DHEA it’s important that they also engage in regular exercise and healthy eating.
- May help lower inflammation and offset its effects – Studies have shown that DHEA not only helps lower insulin resistance, (thereby helping to prevent the development of adult onset diabetes), but that it can also reduce inflammation and its many odious effects (12). The ability of DHEA to reduce inflammation while at the same time balancing hormone levels can have the knock-on effect of producing higher energy levels and increasing a person’s vitality. Certainly, the weight loss abilities of DHEA play a significant role in increasing energy levels as well.
The full extent of DHEA’s benefits have yet to be determined as the study of this important natural compound is, in many respects, still in its infancy.
What are the Symptoms of Low DHEA?
In a many cases the first and most obvious symptom that a person is suffering from low DHEA levels is fatigue. Sometimes this loss of energy can be overwhelming and it may also be accompanied by a loss of libido. This is true of both men and women. Other common symptoms that your DHEA levels are not what they should be include:
- Mild depression or a general feeling of sadness.
- Noticeable muscle loss.
- Pain and stiffness in the joints.
- Dry skin and loss of body hair.
- Reduced sex drive.
- Short term memory issues.
- Unexpected weight gain.
While fatigue may come on fairly quickly the majority of these other symptoms are likely to sneak up on a person. The unexpected weight gain typically occurs even though the person has not changed their diet or their daily routine.
In addition, low levels of DHEA have been shown to negatively affect the function of the immune system making a person more susceptible to any number of maladies, including infections. Conversely, studies have proven that moderate levels of DHEA supplementation can work to significantly bolster the immune system in older individuals (13).
What Causes the Decline in DHEA?
While science has known for some time that DHEA levels decrease with age the exact mechanisms behind this decline are not yet fully understood. All we know for sure is that by the time they reach 40 most people produce about half as much DHEA as they did when they were in their mid-20s. By the time a person reaches 65 that DHEA production may be only 20 percent of what it was at its peak. And by age 80 the body is only producing trace amounts of DHEA. With everything that is coming to light about the role of DHEA in maintaining vitality and overall health this startling reduction may go a long way toward explaining why people experience many of the problems they do as they age. Although, to be sure, more study is needed before any hard and fast conclusions can be drawn.
Will DHEA Supplements Interfere With My Own DHEA Production?
In most cases the body responds to increasing or decreasing hormone levels by automatically producing more or less of a specific hormone as needed. Except in the case of DHEA. For some reason there doesn’t seem to be any “feedback” mechanism in place to alert the body about increasing or decreasing DHEA levels. This lack of a feedback loop would seem to explain, at least in part, why DHEA levels decrease as we age. At the same time it also suggests that if we increase DHEA levels through supplementation that the body won’t react by decreasing its own DHEA production. And this notion has been borne out through numerous studies. So, in a word, “no”. DHEA supplements shouldn’t interfere with your own DHEA production.
Are There Any Side Effects From Taking DHEA?
DHEA supplementation is considered to be generally safe in most cases. Indeed, some of the studies we have already cited followed participants who took DHEA supplements for up to a year and reported no adverse affects. That said, DHEA is not completely without potential side effects and some people may experience;
- Mild headaches.
- Intermittent insomnia.
- Mood changes.
- Increased facial hair (particularly in women).
- A deepening of the voice.
Some of these potential side effects are due to the ability of DHEA to increase testosterone production.
In addition, people with liver disease, diabetes, heart conditions, thyroid problems and ovarian cysts should consult their doctor before deciding whether to take DHEA. And because of its ability to influence hormone levels DHEA supplements are not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
The Bottom Line
DHEA plays an important regulatory role in our bodies, promoting the production of the vital sex hormones testosterone, estrogen and progesterone. Yet as we age our body’s own production of DHEA significantly decreases for reasons that are not yet completely understood.
Studies have shown that DHEA supplementation can effectively address a range of health issues including sexual dysfunction, depression and cognitive decline. It can also help build stronger lean muscle mass. Just to be safe, make sure you consult your physician prior to starting DHEA supplementation.