March 16, 2023

Best DHEA Supplement for Hormone Balance and Healthy Aging

photo of Adam Felman

Written By

Adam Felman

photo of Alex Antoniou, MD

Medically Reviewed By

Alex Antoniou, MD

Lifeforce Physician

Best DHEA Supplement for Hormone Balance and Healthy Aging

Your body naturally makes dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) — a steroid hormone that supports the production of testosterone and estrogen. DHEA plays an important role in supporting your energy levels, sleep quality, sex drive, weight, bone health, and a host of other crucial body systems and processes.

DHEA by age graph
Source: DHEA/DHEAS system

Your DHEA levels will inevitably decline as you age. This decline, though natural, can cause a laundry list of health problems such as fatigue, depression, erectile dysfunction, muscle atrophy, irregular periods, skin issues, and difficulty sleeping.

Supplementing DHEA with a high-quality supplement can help you balance your hormone levels and overall health as you age. Unfortunately, not all DHEA supplements are created equal. Here’s how to spot the best DHEA supplements and use them safely.

Tony Robbins smiling
Based on research in the bestselling book Life Force by Tony Robbins, Lifeforce DHEA helps your body produce key hormones, including testosterone and estrogen to help enhance sexual function, metabolism, heart health, and immune function. DHEA levels peak in early adulthood and slowly decline as you age. With a unique formula of low-dose DHEA, Pregnenolone, and 7-Keto DHEA, Lifeforce DHEA helps you maintain the optimal hormone levels your body needs to function at your peak.

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by The Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

What Is DHEA — And Why Does It Matter?

DHEA is a steroid hormone your adrenal gland produces naturally in a form called DHEA sulfate (DHEA-S). Your body uses DHEA-S as a building block for male and female sex hormones. DHEA-S levels decrease with time, peaking in your mid-twenties and falling to 10% to 20% of their max by age 70 or 80.

“Peak DHEA levels most often hit around age 25. As the most abundant hormone in our bodies, DHEA decline inevitably contributes to the process of aging,” says Lifeforce Physician Alex Antoniou, MD, ABNM Board Certified in Nuclear Medicine. 

The good news is that you can supplement your DHEA levels with:

  • Tablets

  • Capsules

  • Gels

  • Creams

  • Powders

The best DHEA supplements aim to replenish low DHEA-S levels.

What DHEA Loss Means for Your Health

Your DHEA levels fall with age. Yet your body needs DHEA to maintain the levels of your all-important sex hormones, testosterone and estrogen. Though there’s no scientifically proven link between falling DHEA levels and a drop in estrogen or testosterone, it’s worth noting that levels of these hormones also decrease with age.

This natural decline can have dramatic effects on both men and women.

In women, low levels of the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone can cause the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue

  • Sleeping difficulties

  • Reduced libido and painful sex

  • Weight gain

  • Dry skin

  • Vaginal dryness

  • Concentration difficulties 

  • Negative mood changes

  • Weak bones

  • Headaches around the time of menstruation

  • Irregular or no periods

  • Hot flashes

  • Night sweats

Many of these symptoms also mark a woman’s transition into menopause and postmenopause.

In men, low testosterone can lead to:

  • Low libido

  • Fatigue

  • Mood problems

  • A drop in lean muscle mass

  • Erectile dysfunction

  • Depression

Can DHEA Supplements Fight Aging?

Many manufacturers promote DHEA as a miracle testosterone booster, a muscle factory, a fountain of youth, or an automatic brain tuner. No supplement is a cure-all.

Though more research is needed, we know something about DHEA from several small studies that point to benefits including improved bone mineral density and muscle mass, and reduced cardiovascular risk.

No supplement is a cure-all. However, as you age, supplementing your body’s natural DHEA reserves can positively impact many of the symptoms associated with aging. Therefore DHEA has a lot to offer as a controlled, tailored, and continuously monitored pillar of a clinician-driven health regimen.

white leggings DHEA supplement

How to Choose the Best DHEA Supplement

Choosing the best DHEA supplement is a challenging but often key step to boosting DHEA levels in your body. A small minority of DHEA supplements are high quality, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate supplements in the same way as medications.

Below, we’ll show you how you can make sure your DHEA supplement has the intended effect.

7-Keto DHEA

7-Keto DHEA is a natural hormone that doesn’t affect your sex hormones. Instead, studies have shown that it has thermogenic qualities — properties that might help your body burn calories faster for use in its basic processes.

7-Keto burns calories over twice as fast as a supplement containing just DHEA. A DHEA supplement supported by 7-Keto DHEA may maximize its energy-burning effects along with restoring DHEA levels.

"7-Keto DHEA is a unique metabolite of DHEA which has been shown to improve baseline metabolic rate, leading to enhanced weight loss,” says Lifeforce Medical Director Vinita Tandon, MD, a board certified endocrinologist. 

Pregnenolone

Pregnenolone is a hormone precursor that may suppress inflammation in the brain, bolstering immunity, improving memory, and supporting cognitive function.  

DHEA supplements that contain pregnenolone may help support your focus and alertness throughout the day.

"Pregnenolone has been shown to have beneficial effects in the brain, including enhancing memory recall and learning, as well as possibly improving mood and depressive disorders,” Dr. Tandon says.

Low Dose

A low dose of the active ingredient in a DHEA supplement gives you more control over your dosage. This lets you adjust your intake based on your body’s unique requirements.

Many DHEA supplements are only available in high doses. When it comes to hormone supplementation, more isn’t always better. Your DHEA needs are very specific to your own unique physiology.

Provides Clinical Support

The best DHEA supplement is best supported by regular monitoring from an experienced physician.

As levels change, your DHEA dosage should respond in kind. Your doctor should offer regular blood diagnostics and consultations to evaluate whether the current dosage and formulation are having the intended effect.

“DHEA continues to decline as you get older,” says Dr. Tandon, “so we want to check your levels every six to 12 months to keep you optimized. Lifeforce DHEA is safe and has no medical risks, so it can be a mainstay product to help support long-term healthy hormone function.”

supplements lined up on wood

DHEA Benefits

The benefits of DHEA supplements lie largely in their ability to restore your natural DHEA levels. The best DHEA supplement will do this in a safe, effective, and realistic manner. Several reviews and studies have uncovered promising advantages of DHEA supplementation in people who are deficient in it. 

As a supplement, DHEA helps you level the playing field, minimizing age-related hormonal decline as a roadblock on your journey to peak health.

To learn more, see our full article on DHEA benefits.

Reducing Some Effects of Aging

DHEA doesn’t freeze or reverse aging, but one placebo-controlled study found that it may slow some of its effects, including bone loss, skin damage, memory decline, and libido loss.

Boosting Hormone Levels During Menopause

Another study on 60 perimenopausal women concluded that supplemental DHEA significantly improved their hormone profiles. However, in this small study, the findings didn’t suggest that supplementation led to a noticeable change in symptoms.

Enhancing Sexual Function for Some People

A systematic review including 38 studies concluded that DHEA use might support several aspects of sexual function in certain populations. These aspects included:

  • Libido

  • Arousal

  • Lubrication

  • Reduced pain

  • Reaching orgasm

  • Frequency of sex

Increasing Bone Density

A research paper from 2020 suggested that DHEA may increase bone mineral density through its effect on increased insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) production and stimulation of bone building activity. IGF-1 may also support bone healing by enhancing how the body absorbs and re-uses bone minerals, although more research is needed to confirm this finding.

DHEA Cautions

Even the best DHEA supplement carries some risks, so it’s important to consult a physician about the safest and most effective dose before you take DHEA. In studies lasting less than 24 months, DHEA caused mild, temporary side effects in some people, commonly including acne.

Medication Interactions

DHEA can also interact with medications, including antidepressants, anti-psychotics, and sedatives. People taking supplementary estrogen and testosterone should avoid taking DHEA, since it can lead to excess levels of both hormones.

Professional Athletes

Professional sportspeople thinking of supplementing DHEA may need to consider alternatives, since its use is currently banned in competitive sports by the World Anti-Doping Agency. However, the Department of Defense permits DHEA use, and routine military drug tests don’t measure DHEA levels.

Monitoring

Using a high-quality, low-dose DHEA supplement under careful and continuous clinical supervision may decrease the risk of adverse effects. A clinical team should measure your DHEA-S blood levels periodically when you’re supplementing with DHEA, to optimize individual needs.

woman kettlebell exercising
Natural Ways to Balance Hormones

Even the best DHEA supplement is only part of a larger plan to maximize your body’s ability to balance your hormones.

You can start making lifestyle changes today that boost your levels of sex hormones and insulin while reducing cortisol, the stress hormone.

Exercise More

Physical activity can increase your levels of sex hormones. Exercise is linked to increased testosterone in older men, and it can also make your body more sensitive to the way hormones trigger important changes in your body.

For example, working up a sweat can make your cells more sensitive to insulin, the hormone that regulates blood-sugar control. This means cells will more readily accept sugars from your bloodstream, helping to balance your blood sugar and possibly reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Current physical activity guidelines recommend getting 150-300 minutes of moderate-to-intense physical activity per week.

Stop Guessing. Start Addressing.

Our at-home blood test measures 40+ biomarkers, including DHEA and other key hormones that drive your health and performance. All diagnostics include a telehealth visit, clinical report, and personalized plan created by a Lifeforce clinician.

Eat With Hormones In Mind

A balanced, nutrient-dense diet is fundamental for good health, hormones included. Be mindful of the following factors when planning meals:

  • Protein is essential. Your endocrine glands need the amino acids from proteins to make peptide hormones like testosterone and estrogen. You can get these from meat, fish, eggs, beans, legumes, ground chia, and dairy products.

  • Minimize sugar intake. Eating too much added sugar and fructose can increase insulin resistance.

  • Consume high-quality fats. Your liver immediately converts medium-chain triglycerides into energy, burning more calories and decreasing the likelihood of insulin resistance. Omega-3s are another important fat, possibly linked to lower levels of cortisol in response to stress.

De-Stress

Stress floods your body with cortisol, a hormone that prepares you for a fight-or-flight reaction. However, if you’re too stressed for too long, levels can stay high and disrupt your hormone balance. This can lead to weight gain, high blood sugar, and increased blood pressure.

You can control your cortisol with the following stress-management techniques:

  • Deep breathing, yoga, mindfulness, and meditation

  • Regular exercise and sleep

  • Taking time for yourself, investing in your relationships, and engaging in enjoyable activities

  • Making room to practice gratitude toward the good things in your life

Learn to recognize when you feel stressed, and take a moment to intervene. It’s not always possible, but knowing how and when stress affects you is the first step to forming a healthy response.

Learn more in our article on 5 Science Backed Ways to Reduce Stress.

Focus on Sleep Hygiene

Good sleep is a cornerstone of health. Disruptions to your sleep routine can affect multiple hormones, including:

  • Insulin

  • Growth hormone, which supports tissue growth

  • Melatonin, which plays a part in controlling when you sleep and wake

  • Leptin and ghrelin, which relate to appetite control

Try to get seven to nine hours of sleep every night.

DHEA Lifeforce Supplement
FAQs

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about DHEA.

What’s the best DHEA brand?

While there’s no scientifically proven best DHEA supplement, Lifeforce’s DHEA provides:

  • A flexible, customizable, low dosage

  • High-quality ingredients, including DHEA, 7-Keto DHEA (a metabolic by-product of DHEA that may help the body burn calories more efficiently), and pregnenolone (a supplement that may prompt the body to produce more of its own DHEA)

  • A filler-free formula

  • Regular monitoring, blood panels, and check-ins with clinicians to track progress as part of Lifeforce’s membership program

This supplement has all the hallmarks of safety and optimization that you should expect from high-quality DHEA.

Who should take DHEA?

People with low levels of DHEA-S would benefit most from a DHEA supplement. Anyone considering DHEA supplementation should first undergo a blood panel, like the Lifeforce Diagnostic, to confirm their DHEA-S levels.

At Lifeforce, our optimal DHEA-S ranges are: 

  • 400-500 mcg/dl for men

  • 250-350 mcg/dl for women

Who should not take DHEA?

DHEA raises safety issues for:

  • People with cancer or a high risk of cancer, as DHEA may increase their risk for hormone-sensitive cancers like ovarian, breast, and prostate cancers

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women

  • People with high cholesterol or ischemic heart disease, since DHEA may reduce levels of “good” HDL cholesterol

  • People with psychiatric or mood disorders, since DHEA may reduce the effectiveness of their medications or in rare instances may trigger mania

Speak to your clinician before considering DHEA supplementation.

When should you take DHEA?

Your body’s DHEA-S production is most active in the morning, so supplementing at this time can help the dosage timing feel more natural.

How long does it take DHEA to work?

DHEA’s timing may vary depending on the pre-supplementation deficiency level, the dose size, and other factors in your unique physiology. However, Lifeforce’s regular monitoring and consultation can ensure that you know when your levels have risen.

Are all DHEA supplements the same?

There are significant differences between the various DHEA supplements on the market. They vary in dosage, list of and quality of ingredients, price, processing method, and the level of clinical support the supplier offers. The best DHEA supplements have high-quality ingredients like 7-Keto DHEA and pregnenelone, and come in a low-dose profile.

tony-two-column-hero
Based on research in the bestselling book Life Force by Tony Robbins, improve your energy and optimize your health with the Lifeforce Membership. It empowers you with everything you need to track your body, get expert guidance, and take the right steps to live at your peak.

This article was medically reviewed by: 

Alex Antoniou, MD, ABNM Board Certified in Nuclear Medicine

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Consult physician prior to use if pregnant/nursing, taking any medication, have been diagnosed with or are at risk for prostate or breast cancer, or have any medical conditions. DHEA-S blood levels should be measured periodically when supplementing with DHEA to optimize individual needs. Do not use if inner seal is broken or missing. Store in a cool, dry place. Keep out of reach of children.

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