What are the hormonal effects of DHEA supplementation?
In the United States, DHEA is considered a dietary supplement, and therefore, it is not an FDA-regulated drug. Hence, over-the-counter products vary greatly in the amounts of bioactive hormone they contain (if any) and may have quite different pharmacokinetic profiles. Even lot-to-lot variability within a brand can be large. Despite being labeled a “dietary supplement,” DHEA has measurable effects on concentrations of hormones. In older adults, 50 mg of bioactive DHEA per day results in a 300% to 600% increase in plasma DHEAS concentration in both men and women; a 100% increase in plasma testosterone in women with nonsignificant changes in men; a 70% to 300% rise in plasma estradiol in women and a 30% to 200% increase in men; and increases in IGF-1 of 25% to 30% in women and 5% to 10% in men. However, the physiologic effects of DHEA supplementation in humans appear quite variable.